With the increasing worldwide need for airline-focused training to address the looming shortage of pilots, the Multi-crew Pilot Licence (MPL) is gaining popularity. One of the most efficient and cost-effective ways to address this ICAO initiative is via the extensive use of professional, authentic flight simulators. French simulator company Alsim has already achieved significant success in South Africa.
TWENTY-FIVE years ago, the founders of Alsim shared a vision to develop flight training by uniting different aircraft types into a single simulator. This vision resulted in one of the early Alsim products known as the AL200 MCC which is still in service with many operators today. The AL200 incorporated a wide range of different aircraft; from a 172 through to the twin-engine jet class, which was a unique capability at the time. This early product essentially evolved into the ALX, Alsim’s latest offering. Today Alsim has more than 400 certified flight training devices in service with more than 300 clients worldwide.
Alsim’s latest development is simply known as “The Airliner.” The device is a versatile multi-purpose hybrid (B737/ A320) airline training simulator designed to address medium to large ATOs’ needs for advanced MCC, APS MCC, JOC, LOFT and UPRT training as well as airline selection programmes (preparation and skill tests). The Airliner will give you the highest fidelity level you can imagine in a non-type-specific simulator (MPL Phase 3) while embracing the new competency-based training (CBT) philosophy as no other product on the market. It is the answer to counteract the future pilot shortage currently predicted by Airbus, Boeing and many others in the industry. The development of ‘The Airliner’ demonstrates “Alsim’s strength in its in-house engineering expertise: they do as much as possible in-house. All their hardware and software is done by their own engineers. The versatility of doing it all in-house allows the company to operate in over 50 countries and it also allows them to continually modernise and incorporate new technology. The big focus of the company has been on the immersion of being in a simulator – that feeling that you’re not actually in a sim, but you’re closer to being in an aircraft as much as possible.
The Alsim range of flight simulator devices has been particularly popular in southern Africa – with many flight schools investing in these top of the range devices – and some operators such as 43 Air School having three Alsim simulators. Nicolas de Lassus, Alsim’s Sales Manager for South Africa explains: “Alsim is a leader in flight simulation for initial pilot training. We have recently opened an office in the US and in China as our business is increasing tremendously worldwide. We are glad to have installed seven devices in South Africa and believe that this is just the beginning as the need for pilots is growing. Thanks to our high-technology simulators we will improve training quality and meet the market demand. With the ALX, South African students from schools such as Aeronav, Central Flight Academy and Superior Air Services can benefit from a state-of-the art simulator to enhance their chances to work in the best airline companies.”
The underlying training principle applied by the Alsim technology does not limit the student to learning to fly just one specific aircraft type, but rather to understand and be familiar with the logic and procedures common to each class of aircraft. The instrument panel therefore needed to not mirror the design of any one specific type of aircraft, but rather to reproduce all the systems that might be found in each aircraft class. This makes the ALX a scalable device, designed to fit and grow with flight school customer demands.
Alsim’s ALX features a superior degree of realism, with VFR-VS, Alsim’s high-definition visual system, and force-feedback to the controls. By applying what Alsim terms a ‘generic’ cockpit design, the ALX simulator caters for up to four classes of aircraft and ten flight models in a single device. The classes include single piston, twin piston, twin turbine and medium category twin jet.
The ALX complies with all Phase I and 2 training requirements, and most of the features required for Phase 3 are taken into consideration as well. This means that the ALX can be used to extend Phase 2 and therefore minimise expensive Full Flight Simulator time in Phase 3, saving costs for both flight schools and pilots. The simulator can be easily upgraded to support higher ‘levels’, which integrate a greater number of aircraft. Thus, a flight school can choose the best level to fit its needs, but can also upgrade its simulator at any time, allowing for training on more advanced aircraft, without the need to purchase additional simulators.
The range of training functions includes: single, multi-engine and turbine aircraft integrated into one simulator, advanced instrument capability, such as RNAV, Traffic Collision Avoidance System (TCAS) and weather radar. The ALX also features both analogue and glass cockpits, a GTN650 GPS autopilot and a Multi-Crew Coordination (MCC) functions.
A number of respected South African flight training organisations have adopted and applied the time-efficient, cost-effective Alsim ALX technology. The primary objectives being to improve the quality of training delivery, to decrease the timespan needed to produce a capable pilot and to reduce the costs applicable to training airline capable pilots.
Aeronav Academy at Lanseria Airport is a typical South African Alsim customer. They operate a modern fleet of predominantly Diamond Aircraft, namely the DA20 Eclipse and diesel-powered, Garmin 1000 equipped DA42 Twinstar. Their instrument, multi-engine and multi-crew training needed to be complemented by a simulator. After much research of a range of companies and simulators, Aeronav has added the Alsim ALX Simulator to its fleet.
The Alsim ALX is an EASA and FAA-approved FNPT II single and multi-crew simulator. It supplies a comprehensive training encounter where ab initio students with zero experience can be trained to airline-type rating standards on the same device. Aeronav says the ALX has all the functionality they require to cater for a range of trainees, from PPL students through to multi-crew ATPL pilots.
Also, Grand Central based Superior Air has an Alsim ALX flight simulator which enables Superior to provide advanced scenario based training, such as emergency training, which is often either difficult or dangerous to do in an aircraft. The simulator is CAA, EASA and FAA certified and has a worldwide database, allowing students to train at familiar airports.
Wonderboom-based Blue Chip Aviation has also invested in Alsim technology with an ALX, which enables the flight school to offer a Jet Orientation Course with Multi Crew cockpit training.
As the worldwide need for capable pilots grows more pressing, training school decisions will be driven primarily by the ability to provide airlines and Part 135 Operators not only with the required quality, but also with the necessary quantity of new pilots. There is no doubt that the application of Alsim’s state-of-the-art simulator technology will go a long way towards the achievement of these objectives and Alsim is already well-placed to be on the forefront of growing demand for professional flight simulator application in South Africa.