ABACE Convention News

Sim Manufacturers Awaiting Growth

 - April 12, 2019, 1:00 AM
FlightSafety International MissionFit training system.

The two dominant business aviation training providers, FlightSafety International (Booth A239) and CAE (Booth B417), both express “cautious optimism” in the Asia-Pacific market, but have no near-term plans to deploy additional full-flight simulators (FFSs) in the region.

FlightSafety (FSI) has a Gulfstream 450/550 level D FFS at the Cathay Pacific Training Centre, Hong Kong International Airport, and pilot training sims for three regional jets in Tokyo, but the slowed growth in China has reduced the likelihood of any new FFSs. “We’ve continued to look at the region for additional simulators,” said Steve Gross, senior vice president, commercial. “The issue is having enough of a density for one particular model of aircraft.”

Nick Leontidis, CAE group president of civil aviation training solutions, said, “Signs of improvement are evident in business aviation, even though new jet deliveries have remained flat since 2012.” He views last year’s spike, “between 3-5 percent,” and new models preparing to enter the market (Dassault Falcon 6X, Gulfstream 500/600, Bombardier Global 7500) as encouraging. CAE has one FFS in the region, also a G450/550, at the Shanghai Eastern Flight Training Center in the Waigaoqiao Free Trade Zone.

FlightSafety has placed emphasis recently on a couple of relatively inexpensive flight training devices. They are developing a business aviation version of a mixed-reality (MR) training system, leveraging a test program for the T38C Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program at Sheppard AFB, Texas. 

Using a commercial-off-the-shelf headset and the company’s high-end VITAL 1100 visual system, the MR system allows a pilot to see and interact with a virtual cockpit, as well as checklists and notes. It can incorporate flight controls for fixed-wing or rotary-wing aircraft. “When they're interacting with the panel, they can see their hands; they can see what they're doing,” Gross explained.

The company’s Simulation Innovation Lab in Tulsa, Oklahoma, unveiled in December a new glass-and-graphics technology branded as MissionFit. A single piece of “smart glass”—with built-in projection, wireless connectivity, and touch-screen—is used to display an aircraft’s avionics panel. The glass can also accommodate tactile components such as a flight guidance panel, gear handles, and throttles, and customers can add a separate out-the-window visual system with a large-screen television or a projection technology.

CAE last month acquired the business aircraft training business of Québec neighbor Bombardier, essentially transferring ownership of a dozen FFSs, built by CAE, which were already located in CAE facilities in Montréal and Dallas, Texas. Leontidis stated: “The acquisition expands our ability to address one of the largest and most valuable in-service fleets of business aircraft in the world [consisting of 4,800 Bombardier bizjets].”

FlightSafety’s Gross noted that many of the company’s Asian customers travel to the U.S. for training. “That’s why we offer the Gulfstream G650 in Long Beach.” FSI features simulators for several Gulfstream models at its southern California location, as well as three Textron Aviation types.

FlightSafety and Textron’s TRU Simulation + Training recently announced their intent to form a joint venture to combine their simulators, courseware, and staff to address training for Textron’s business and general aviation aircraft.