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Bunner Elektronik has developed a full motion, portable flight simulator that utilizes a virtual reality/mixed reality (VR/MR) headset integrated with FlightSafety’s VITAL 1150 visual system, to bring an immersive training experience to student pilots.
The simulator, called the NOVASIM MR, provides a realistic training experience where students are able to interact in the cockpit, see their hands, and feel the motion/direction in which they are flying — thanks to Brunner’s motion compensation algorithms and latency-free motion cueing algorithms. Brunner said the NOVASIM is the world’s first full-motion, mixed reality flight simulator.
While the full-motion aspect of the simulator creates a more immersive training experience, it also helps to combat motion sickness “because what you see is what your body expects to feel,” said Mario Ackermann, sales and marketing manager at Brunner. “And if you don’t give that to your body, you get sick very quickly.”
Being a smaller platform, the NOVASIM is a fraction of the cost of typical full flight simulators, Ackermann said. The simulator is also mobile; lifting the feet of the platform a few inches will put it on wheels, allowing it to be moved around easily, if needed.
The NOVASIM features Varjo Technologies’ XR-1 VR goggles, which Brunner said are some of the most sophisticated VR goggles currently available. “Varjo uses the slogan, ‘Human eye resolution,’ and you really can see all the dials and everything crystal clear,” said Ackermann. “And that’s really important if you do some emergency recovery procedures where you really have to focus on the dials — RPMs, altitude, etc.”
The XR-1 VR goggles also come standard with eye-tracking technology, which quantifies the amount of times the student looks straight ahead, looks at the controls, etc. — allowing the flight instructor to give more precise, constructive feedback.
Ackermann said the idea behind the NOVASIM is to make flight training more affordable, efficient and safer for students before getting behind the controls of a helicopter for the first time.
“Whenever you have the possibility to have the first few hours on the system, you learn to hover, you learn to recover, you do take-offs and landings. And then you reduce the total hours of training quite drastically . . . which saves a lot of money, a lot of time, and it’s safe,” he said.
Unlike full flight simulators, the NOVASIM MR can be reconfigured from rotary-wing to fixed-wing by simply removing the collective and cyclic and adding fixed-wing controls. Different aircraft models can also be added to the visual system software; there are currently numerous helicopter and fixed-wing types available on the NOVASIM platform, including the Airbus H145, Boeing AH-64 Apache, and various Robinson models. But Ackermann said the capability is there to add any helicopter or fixed-wing model to the software.
Brunner and FlightSafety recently partnered with Schweizer RSG to develop the NOVASIM VR S300, configured for the S300 helicopter, which is a popular aircraft for flight training.
“The NOVASIM presents a new category of training simulators,” said Rudolf Iten of Iten Consulting GmbH. “You have the advantages and benefits of the moving platform, as well as affordability and the ability to move it. Any flight school can have it.”
Brunner and FlightSafety brought the NOVASIM to this year’s Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California, allowing showgoers to experience the immersive and realistic features of the simulator.