EASA has granted the first certificate for a rotorcraft virtual reality (VR)-based flight simulation training device (FSTD) to VRM Switzerland. The FSTD is qualified as flight and navigation procedures trainer (FNPT) level II for the Robinson R22 Beta II. Approval for the Airbus H125 is expected shortly.
Depending on the training concept, EASA will provide users of the device with up to five hours of training credit for a private pilot license, 10 to 20 hours of training credit for a commercial certificate, and five hours of nighttime credit. VRM developed the device in partnership with Air Zermatt, and launch customers include Mountainflyers and the Heli Academy.
In granting the authorization, the European regulatory agency applied special conditions from the existing regulations that take account of new technology adapted to cockpit, display, and motion systems to ensure an equivalent safety level compliant with the FSTD certification specifications. Its evaluation confirmed the suitability of VR for helicopter flight training particularly for autorotations, hovers, and slope landings where exact height perception and wide field of view are required.
Device approval “aligns with the safety objectives of the EASA rotorcraft safety roadmap to review the most critical training scenarios and promote the use of simulators for high-risk training operations,” said EASA flight standards director Jesper Rasmussen. “This evolution will make a wider range of cost-effective training devices available to complement full flight simulators and is being driven in part by training needs for new VTOL aircraft.”