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Flight simulator manufacturer Frasca International, Inc. is celebrating its 60th anniversary this year. The company was founded by Rudy Frasca in 1958 and remains a privately held, family-run business. Over the past six decades, the company has become well known as a quality supplier of flight simulation equipment for hundreds of flight schools worldwide.
Rudy Frasca founded the company after working as a flight simulator instructor and maintenance engineer while serving in the U.S. Navy. The company started out building general aviation “trainers” for smaller flight schools and colleges with aviation programs and developed a strong customer base with its 141 and 142 product line. Today, Frasca simulators are used by more collegiate aviation programs than any other brand of simulators.
As the company grew and technology advanced, Frasca began providing more complex and customized devices to airline training programs, military organizations and larger flight schools. To keep up with the growing demand for certified devices, product range grew to include flight training devices and full-flight simulators (FFS). Frasca began developing custom devices for a full range of aircraft, both fixed- and rotary-wing.
Frasca became known for its ability to meet technical requirements, customers’ budgets and delivery timelines, but even more importantly, Frasca earned a reputation as a company that truly understood the industry and cared about its customers’ success. Rudy Frasca believed in partnerships and developed hundreds of friendships throughout the industry. To this day, visitors stop by the Frasca booth at industry trade shows and ask about Rudy. Even in retirement, he is fondly known as the personable and gregarious founder of this successful simulation company.
In the 60 years since it’s founding, Frasca International has delivered over 2,600 flight simulators to approximately 70 countries worldwide. Along the way, the grass roots heritage remained. Rudy Frasca, an avid pilot, bought a small airport and moved his company adjacent to the airfield in 1990. He spent years collecting rare and vintage aircraft. He also raised eight children with his wife Lucille, making sure that they all had the opportunity to learn to fly and several are still active pilots.
Rudy’s son, John Frasca, took over as CEO several years ago and has overseen much of the engineering and technical growth of the company. An engineer by training, John is very hands-on with product development. Other family involved in the business include David Frasca who serves as director of strategic planning, Bob Frasca as project manager, Peggy Frasca Prichard as advertising manager, and Tom Frasca as airport manager. Two other siblings have retired from the business and Rudy’s eldest son Joe, a talented aerobatic pilot who passed away in 1991, is still remembered for his amazing piloting abilities. The company has over 140 full-time employees, many who have been with the company over 20 years.
Over the past 60 years, the company has had many milestones with respect to technological breakthroughs, new product announcements and contract awards. In 1983, the company transitioned from analog to digital simulation, utilizing PC technology. In 1984, it developed electric control loading which improved the feel of the controls. In 1985, Frasca introduced its first visual system which has evolved into TruVision Global. In 1987, motion bases were applied to general aviation devices. In 1991 Frasca introduced its Graphical Instructors Station (GISt) which became an industry standard and was only recently replaced by a new IOS named Simplicity.
In 1992, the company delivered it’s first FFS followed by several additional FFSs including a Level D CJ1+ to a customer in China in 2014. In 2003, 16 Level 6 FTDs were delivered to Embry Riddle Aeronautical University (ERAU), the first of their kind. In 2005, a Frasca KingAir FFS with TruVision was approved to Level C. In 2007, Frasca delivered the first Level 6 Helicopter FTD and introduced TruVision Global, a highly detailed visual system, to the industry. In 2009 Frasca delivered an FAA Level 7 FTD, in 2010 it delivered a dual-qualified Level B FFS and in 2011, a dual qualified Bell 429 L6 FTD, JAA FTD 2. In 2012 Frasca became ISO 9001:2008 certified.
Mostly recently, in 2017 Frasca delivered its first Level 7 Helicopter FTD with its new Frasca Motion Cueing System (FMCS). The company is currently launching a new lower-priced Helicopter Training Device (HTD) to meet customer needs in this market. Other new products and technology are under development and will be announced later the year.
Frasca provides simulation equipment to airlines, flight schools and military organizations worldwide. Key customers include large university aviation programs such as ERAU and the University North Dakota (UND); hundreds of flight schools; military organizations such as the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Army, The Indonesian Air Force, The Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS), the NYPD and others; and helicopter operators including PHI, Air Logistics, Bristow Helicopters, Air Evac, Bell Helicopters, Era Helicopters and many more.
Thousands of pilots worldwide have trained on Frasca equipment.
Frasca plans to celebrate its 60th anniversary with various events and celebrations throughout the year.