In this installation of AVweb’s series on flight simulators we’re going to take a look at a company that uses an innovative program to bring access to sophisticated—and expensive—flight simulators to users who otherwise could not afford them. Started in 2010 by Xylon Saltzman, a flight instructor and charter pilot who was unhappy with the level of access to high-fidelity simulators in general aviation, one-G Simulation (www.flyone-g.com) makes a series of Advanced Aviation Training Devices (AATD). These are simulators that can be used for experience that can be credited toward ratings and recency of experience for instrument pilots. In keeping with the American spirit of innovation, Saltzman built the first one in his garage.
Eight years later one-G’s FAA-approved AATD series of four simulators emulate the four Cessna singles, the Beech Bonanza and Baron, the Socata TBM 700 and the Pilatus PC-12. A Robinson R44 sim, making extensive use of virtual reality technology, has recently been put on the market, although it is not approved as an Aviation Training Device. Focusing on Saltzman’s philosophy of integrating flight simulation into flight training from day one, one-G opened sister company Modern Pilot, a flight school in the Puget Sound area that makes extensive use of one-G simulators in a focused training program. It also established its Youth Access program to expand aviation career paths for youth interested in flight.
In the course of our flight simulator series, we’ve focused on simulators suitable for home use. Accordingly, we’re going to focus on one-G’s Foundation simulator here because, while it is designed for flight schools, we consider it suitable for home use.
The Foundation, the first simulator created by one-G, is designed to replicate the Cessna 172, 172RG, 182 and 182RG. It offers wireless connectivity to ForeFlight, WingX Pro and FlyQ apps and one-G’s 1G-650 GPS emulator (Garmin GTN 650) is standard equipment. Priced at $30,000, the Foundation is not a desktop simulator but a one-piece unit including seat, instrument panel and 27-inch retractable LED monitor mounted on a castor-equipped platform that will fit through a standard doorway. It comes assembled and installation involves wheeling it into place and plugging it in to a power outlet and Ethernet connection. Options include three to five screens for a field of view up to 220 degrees—something we feel is of significant value for initial flight training. 80 percent of a human’s perception of motion comes from the eyes, which, we were told, makes a wide “out of the window” (OTW) view more important for initial training than the ability of a simulator to replicate motion.
The Foundation is aircraft model specific, which Saltzman told us he considers important for positive transfer of learning from the simulator to the airplane.
As an AATD, there is a sophisticated level of ability to simulate weather conditions, including cloud bases, wind layers, payload and center of gravity, ice buildup and wind shear.
Also, as an AATD, the Foundation includes an instructor operating system (IOS), so that a flight instructor can work directly with the pilot/student to create flight scenarios and inflight emergencies, fail systems and record and review the flight path and options available to the pilot during an operating session. Further, the FARs require that for the time spent in an operating session be credited toward a rating or for recency of experience of an instrument rating, an instructor must be present and sign off the pilot’s logbook.
From the point of view of an instrument pilot who needs to do the required tasks to stay current, we have previously editorialized about the oddness of the fact that an instrument pilot may meet those requirements by flying under the hood with just a safety pilot who is not instrument rated but that if the same pilot uses an FAA-approved simulator to do the same tasks, he or she has to do so with an instructor present to supervise and make a logbook entry. In talking with Saltzman about the Foundation, we learned that one-G has received approval for the instructor to supervise a training session remotely—he or she doesn’t have to be sitting in the same room as the simulator. It is a part of the one-G Portal program that also provides automatic logging of instructor and student hours and tracking of training programs. There is an installed equipment requirement; however, we think that having approval for instructor supervision from a separate location—in real time—is of tremendous value to individuals and flight schools looking at maximizing the use and value of a simulator.
Frankly, at a price point of $30,000, we initially did not think the Foundation simulator was a consideration for a home-use simulator or one that an individual might acquire—and therefore not appropriate as a subject for our series on simulators. What changed our mind was one-G’s Access program. It can be compared to “power by the hour” programs for turbine-powered aircraft operators. The user doesn’t buy the simulator; he or she gets one on site and pays an hourly fee for using it.
Saltzman told us that individuals who wanted a flight simulator with the capability and sophistication of the Foundation have teamed with nearby flight schools to acquire one through the Access program. The pilot gets access to a simulator and the flight school gets to have one for its flight training program—without the capital cost of a major purchase. While there are minimum use requirements, we think the option offered by one-G’s Access program opens up high-level flight simulation to individuals and flight schools who would not have it.
As a closing note, we’re interested in the use of virtual reality in flight simulation. It’s already being used in medical training. One-G is applying it in its Torrence 44 (Robinson R44) simulator and we think it holds a great deal of promise in cutting down the cost while increasing the capabilities of home flight simulators. We think one-G’s early foray into virtual reality flight simulation is in keeping with its creative approach to bringing high-end sims to more users through its Access program.
Rick Durden is a CFII who holds an ATP with type ratings in the Douglas DC-3 and Cessna Citation and is the author of The Thinking Pilot’s Flight Manual or, How to Survive Flying Little Airplanes and Have a Ball Doing It, Vols. 1 & 2.