WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. — The PlaneEnglish Aviation Radio Simulator (ARSim), already used widely by general aviation pilots to master radio communications, will now be deployed to train future U.S. Air Force pilots thanks to a recent $2.4 million, 3-year contract.
Under the contract, the U.S. Air Force Life Cycle Management Center Simulator Branch will fund the use of ARSim for the undergraduate pilot training program across units in the Air Education and Training Command.
The three-year Air Force contract is being funded through the highly competitive Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) program, which encourages small businesses to engage in federal research and development of products and services with potential for commercialization. Phases I and II of SBIR funding, totaling $1 million, began in 2020 and over 15 months enabled PlaneEnglish to develop its mobile and Web-based ARSim into a rich, robust, and reliable training platform. The Phase III effort transitions ARSim from a research and development effort into an acquisition program and expands its use across the U.S. Air Force. Additionally, under this effort, PlaneEnglish will complete the FedRAMP cyber-certification process, paving the way for the ARSim’s integration with other Air Force training platforms to facilitate its use and adoption across Air Force and Department of Defense training units.
Created by three Purdue University alumni, ARSim simulates exchanges with air traffic control using a variety of scenarios pilots might encounter through every phase of flight, from taxiing and takeoff to landing and emergencies. Pilots receive instant feedback on their performance, explanations of the communication procedures, and progress tracking as they develop their skills.
ARSim is synched across mobile and desktop devices, so users retain all of their progress and experience a seamless transition switching between platforms. Since its release in 2019, ARSim has been downloaded by more than 175,000 users.
“Air Force pilot trainees face many of the challenges those in general aviation do when learning how to fly, including how to use radio communications with confidence and skill, but the stakes are clearly even higher,” said PlaneEnglish CEO Muharrem Mane, a graduate of Purdue University’s School of Aeronautics and Astronautics. “We’re honored to support the training mission of the Air Force, and to help future military pilots overcome one of the biggest challenges during aviation training: mastering the radio.”
Separately, PlaneEnglish announces the addition of a new TRAINER mode for ARSim that offers a progressive radio communications training curriculum with “Stage Checks” that unlock more complex levels of training and gives users the chance to earn an Aviation Comms Wings badge for completing all the modules. The addition makes ARSim a turn-key solution for training institutions as well as individual users.
Mane said the new TRAINER mode will expand ARSim’s capabilities for both general aviation and military pilots, and that the feature will be especially useful to flight schools and ground schools. He said each level in the curriculum includes lessons related to specific aspects of aviation communication, phases of flight, airports, and airspaces. There are modules for both VFR and IFR flying.
“Pilots receive roughly six hours of radio communications practice while flying during their entire training,” Mane said. “Many of those interactions with Air Traffic Control (ATC) will be routine and repetitive. But what happens when a pilot flies into a different airspace, talks to a different ATC facility, or encounters unusual circumstances and needs to quickly and effectively communicate? ARSim provides hours of unique radio communications training to ensure pilots are prepared for any situation they encounter and have the skills and confidence to communicate with air traffic control.”
The PlaneEnglish Aviation Radio Simulator is available for iOS and Android on the AppStore and Google Play Store, as well as on the web. The app offers a seven-day free trial as well as customization options and licenses for flight schools and other institutions interested in using the app in group settings.
Headquartered at the Purdue Research Park, PlaneEnglish also offers a companion comms manual, “The Easy Route to Aviation Radio Proficiency: Training Manual with Activities Using ARSim Aviation Radio Simulator”, and ATSim, an app-based simulation comms trainer for air traffic controllers.