For pilots who need a Citation type rating, Carlsbad, Calif.-based Loft offers an alternative to the big three simulator training companies (FlightSafety International, SimCom and SimuFlite). Formerly known as Flight Crew Systems, Loft offers both simulator and in-aircraft training for Citation pilots, and the company has its own Level C-certified CitationJet simulator as well as a Touch Flight cockpit trainer for differences and avionics training. Loft is a first-time NBAA exhibitor (Booth No. C9438).
Loft is a Part 142-approved school that specializes in the entire Cessna CitationJet (Model 525) line from the CJ1 to the CJ4 and the Citation 500 series through the 560 (but not including the XLS), according to company part-owner, instructor and vice president of sales Richard Sears. The CJ training is done both in the simulator and in a CitationJet, while the Citation 500-series training is done in a Citation. Both aircraft are based at McClellan-Palomar Airport in Carlsbad, and the simulator is housed off-airport, about 1.5 miles from Loft’s airport offices. “We can do the same type of training that the big guys do,” Sears said. “The atmosphere is more personal, with a much smaller class size.”
Loft is unique in that it combines simulator and in-aircraft instruction, unlike most simulator training companies, although SimCom instructors often fly with trainees in the customer’s own airplane. “It definitely sets us apart,” said Sears. “Few [companies] can do in-aircraft training.”
“People don’t want to touch just the simulator, they want to fly the aircraft,” said Christina Middleton, director of training and a Loft principal. Like most of the Loft personnel, Middleton is an experienced charter pilot and teaches in both the Citations and the simulator. Principal Noel Yantos is an experienced charter, corporate and airline pilot and also teaches at Loft.
The advantage of being able to train in both the simulator and the jet is that a pilot who is obtaining a jet type rating for the first time can remove the supervised operating experience (SOE) restriction. By training in the Loft simulator and then flying in the CJ1, the 25- to 50-hour SOE requirement is removed when the student graduates with the type rating. “It looks better on the resume,” Middleton said.
Loft customers can get a single-pilot or crew type rating in the CitationJet, entirely in the simulator or all in the aircraft (at additional cost, of course) or combined for SOE removal. The 10-day CJ type-rating course costs $11,550 and includes six days of ground training (eight hours per day), 12 hours in the full-motion simulator, all materials and the check ride. SOE removal costs an additional $3,750 (in the CitationJet). In the Citation 500, the type-rating course costs $10,900, but this is done entirely in the jet, which is a two-pilot airplane.
Loft also offers recurrent training, either in the simulator or the jets, something that pilots who fly single-pilot jets now need to do every year to stay current.
According to Sears, Loft’s next training programs could include a Citation Ultra simulator “to cover the entire 500 range. We’re talking to simulator manufacturers.”