May 25, 2011 by Craig Fuller
I’m in Austin, Texas, this week for the Texas State Aviation Conference, and I took some time out to visit the Redbird Flight Simulations’ manufacturing facility where I was joined by John and Martha King and we received a tour from founder Jerry Gregoire.
It was remarkable to see how this relatively new company is lowering the cost and improving the quality of flight simulation. From desktop sims to full-motion units, they can recreate just about any aircraft. In fact, a flight school can change its full-motion simulator from a Cessna 172 to a Cirrus SR20 simply by turning a few hand screws and swapping out components–no special skills or tools required.
Redbird is also making owning a simulator more affordable for flight schools by lowering the cost of acquisition and making it easy to for schools to update and repair their sims. Fully interchangeable components make it inexpensive to swap out just about any piece of the simulator from the control yoke to the monitors.
Cessna Pilot Centers are taking advantage of this technology as are King Schools and numerous aviation universities. Insurance companies are using them to understand accident causes and even the FAA is putting them to work with an order for King Air sims.
Innovation has always been a hallmark of the GA community, and Redbird is a great example of how creative thinking can improve the flying experience. It’s exciting to see what’s going on at aviation businesses around the country, and I can’t wait to see how today’s developments change the way we fly tomorrow.
The view from the cockpit of a Redbird full-motion simulator.
One of the things that’s so exciting about the Redbird simulators is the way they’re being put to use to make training more affordable and effective. For example, a “student key” allows instructors to give each student access to specific scenarios appropriate for their training level. The student can use the key to fly the scenarios, then the instructor can use the key to review how the student performed. That lets the student practice exactly what they need to know on the ground and without their instructor present–a major cost savings.
A specialized crosswind simulator can let you experience the toughest landing conditions without endangering yourself or the aircraft. And, because you can focus your time on the trickiest part of an approach, they estimate you can simulate a decade of crosswind landings in about 2 hours. Of course, expect to be tired when you’re finished–the experience is very realistic and just as exhausting as wrestling the plane through the real thing.