VRpilot adds C172 to its ‘virtual’ training fleet

Danish company VRpilot has announced that its VRflow training platform – an interactive cockpit procedure trainer built on Virtual Reality (VR) – is now available for the iconic Cessna 172 in two variants, the classic ‘N’ model and the modern ‘S’ model featuring G1000 avionics.

With the advent of consumer priced VR hardware, such as the Oculus Rift, HTC Vive and others, the use of VR training platforms is fast becoming a popular choice for flight training organisations, airlines and even individual pilots.

As VRpilot explains, the main benefit of virtual reality to the flight training industry is the immersive representation of the flight experience, providing some important learning advantages over traditional flight simulators. Key benefits for flight schools include reduced training costs, cost savings on aircraft familiarisation training and faster training of students.

VRpilots cites a number of practical training benefits, including the ability to judge distances correctly, explaining that this aspect of flight training is difficult to deliver in traditional simulators where there is no depth perception.

This is because the screen onto which the outside world is projected is placed at a fixed distance from the eyes of the student pilot, and every object projected onto the screen would appear to be at the same distance from the pilot – whether it’s the runway five metres from the pilot or a tower 2km away.

Virtual Reality goggles offer stereoscopic screens that present two slightly different images of the same scene. This gives the sense of depth and distance in the same way we are able to judge distance with our natural, stereoscopic vision. Thus, VR is able to accurately and intuitively represent distances in a flight simulation where this aspect is crucial, such as when to flare on an approach to landing.

Another important lesson every pilot must learn is to perform a proper lookout. As VRpilot explains, traditional flight simulators rarely have a field of vision of more than 180 degrees, which limits the possibility of performing a proper lookout. In these simulators, pilots who train must often resort to alternative methods of reference, such as timing their turns, because they cannot use the lookout procedures they would use in the real aircraft.

Virtual Reality goggles allows the student pilot to look in any direction using accelerometers and gyroscopes, meaning the student may look beyond the 180-degree field of view provided by traditional flight simulators.

A final advantage promoted by VRpilot is the scalability and modularity of its systems. A major cost of flight simulators is the physical cockpit itself. The components used to build the cockpit are often the same, certified aircraft parts used on the real aircraft, making these simulators expensive pieces of hardware.

Depending on the fidelity of the VR simulation, only the basic flight controls are physically available while the rest of the cockpit is represented purely with computer graphics presented via VR goggles. VRpilot says that this is not only much cheaper to make, but it also allows the same simulator to take the appearance of a completely different aircraft in a matter of seconds. For flying schools operating more than one type, this has the benefit of the school only having to invest in one simulator for all the aircraft types they operate.

To date VRpilot has developed VR training platforms for the Diamond DA40 single engine trainer, Diamond DA42 twin-engine trainer and the aforementioned C172 variants. Its airliner training fleet platforms meanwhile comprise A320, 737MAX, 737NG and E175 types, with development underway for the ATR42/72-600 and A330.

The company is also able to produce customised VR training platforms, such as the T-17 VR trainer it has designed for the Royal Danish Air Force.

Image accredited to VRpilot.

Author: FTN Editor

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