Can immersive technology help address the rising global pilot shortage?
Loft Dynamics, previously referred to as VRM Switzerland, has unveiled what the company claims is the “world’s first” VR full-motion helicopter flight simulator qualified for use by an official national aviation regulator. Put simply, this device can be used as a legitimate tool for pilot training while reducing training costs and improving pilot safety.
The full-motion rig features a high-resolution VR system and full-scale replica cockpit mounted on a 6DoF (six degrees of freedom) motion platform. In the headset, trainees see panoramic views of various locations and hear authentic sound emitting from their virtual aircraft. Meanwhile, the motion rig delivers realistic force feedback and motion.
According to the company, the entire package is 10x smaller than conventional full-motion simulators and roughly 20x cheaper to own and operate. Despite being able to fit comfortably in the loft of a hangar (hence the name Loft Dynamics), the system can supposedly cut air time training by a whopping 60%.
“It’s hard to overstate how monumental this is for aviation,” said Sky Dayton, Loft Dynamics’ main investor and board member, in an official release. “You don’t have to travel to train anymore, away from work and family and be gone for weeks or months. These new simulators will be integrated into all bases of operation, and pilots will be able to train all the time — not just for required regulatory checks, but to regularly hone and add to their skills.”
Dayton, a jet pilot, elaborated on his time in the Loft Dynamics simulator, claiming he could feel the texture of the asphalt beneath the virtual helicopter as he landed. The full-motion rig moved in sync with the virtual aircraft, simulating the feeling of flying through the air at high speeds. According to Dayton, he was able to practice emergency manuevers that can be dangerous to perform in a real helicopter.
With a global pilot shortage expected to continue through the next decade, this cost-effective flight simulator could be invaluable moving forward. In addition to its rebrand to Loft Dynamics, the company has raised an impressive $20 million in additional financing from Craft Ventures, Sky Dayton and UP.Partners.
“Our rebranding is critical to reflect the current global nature of our steady growth,” added Loft Dynamics CEO and founder Fabi Riesen. “We chose the word ‘loft’ carefully as it reflects an upward movement in the air, but it also refers to the fact that our full-motion VR simulator is so small that it can fit in the loft of a hangar or other small spaces, such as a trailer. Our growing team is proud of the new name and to be expanding the training of pilots with our highly efficient, exceptionally realistic, and dramatically less expensive simulator.”
Moving forward, Loft Dynamics is working with Airbus Helicopters to develop a simulator for the Airbus H145, a model of helicopter often used in emergency medical services. The company will also be expanding its portfolio to include fixed-wing sumlators in an attempt to target the eVTOL market.
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Feature Image Credit: Loft Dynamics