Sporty’s took delivery of a Frasca Mentor Advanced Aviation Training Device in December, as part of a collaboration with Frasca International, Inc., to develop training products that leverage the flight training expertise of Sporty’s and the flight simulation expertise of Frasca. The ultimate goal of the partnership will be to create training materials, course content, and programs to enhance the learning experience through the efficient integration of flight simulation in basic flight training.
Frasca’s research in the use of simulation in basic flight training goes back more than 40 years to studies conducted in cooperation with Purdue University in an effort to improve the flight training experience. Sporty’s use of Frasca simulation dates back more than 20 years, when the Frasca Model 142 was integrated into curriculum used as part of the University’s of Cincinnati’s Professional Pilot Training Program. The advancements in simulation technology and visual systems, along with the amazing capability of modern devices, have made it possible to renew our efforts at utilizing simulation to its maximum potential.
The first step in this partnership is for students at Sporty’s to begin utilizing the Frasca Mentor Cessna 172S Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) flight simulator. The Mentor features a 200-degree visual system and Frasca’s TruVision technology.
TruVision provides worldwide visuals, including more than 20,000 runways, coastlines, rivers, roads, and more, allowing the pilot to fly anywhere in the world. In addition, the Mentor at Sporty’s comes with detailed satellite imagery within 150 miles of the Sporty’s/Clermont County Airport (I69). This visual enhancement allows for realistic, scenario-based training, meaningful VFR cross-country flying, and even ground-reference maneuvers.The Mentor replicates a Cessna 172 cockpit layout, complete with an authentic Garmin G1000 panel. The advanced aerodynamic modeling and robust customization options of the Mentor deliver realistic scenarios, including communication with ATC, interaction with advanced flight deck technology, and the ability to practice visual maneuvers and pilotage, just to name a few.
A planned outcome of the Sporty’s/Frasca partnership is to create systems which make the flight training process more efficient, making learning to fly easier and faster, thus maximizing the financial investment of every flight student.
Sporty’s initial plans are to concentrate on scenario-based training that will address those skills we know historically to be challenging for new pilots and a major source of course “overruns.” This includes mastering basic visual maneuvers and traffic pattern operations, as well as overcoming obstacles found in cross-country flying. Specifically, students will have the opportunity to fly scripted, detailed cross-country flights in the simulated environment before embarking in the aircraft. The TruVision system will allow students to identify VFR checkpoints, such as railroads, rivers, and towns, using satellite imagery, while interacting with the capabilities of the Garmin G1000. In terms of radio communication, which we also know to be a common source of angst for pilots, students will be able to open flight plans, receive flight following, and interact in other ways with flight service and ATC.
Students undoubtedly will have the opportunity to contend with unforeseen weather phenomena, traffic conflicts, and equipment failures, just as one may find in the airplane. We anticipate being able to hone our students’ aeronautical decision-making skills and judgment and to give them confidence in managing contingencies while in the controlled environment–with the added ability to discuss options with an instructor.
We plan to continue building our scenario library to include instrument and eventually, commercial training. The initial feedback we have received has been overwhelmingly positive. Students training toward instrument ratings have been able to accomplish a high volume of instrument procedures experience in quick succession to help solidify their own cockpit flows and procedures mastery. The ability to fly in unfamiliar areas across the United States has also been a tremendous confidence booster.
We are optimistic about what the future holds and look forward to providing updates of our results. While currently most of you do not have quick, easy access to such an advanced device, we believe there are efficiencies to be gained, even with the most basic, desktop “gaming” programs–provided the right guidance is used. Sporty’s has some tools available right now to provide that guidance, and I look forward to sharing more in a future post.
–Eric Radtke, Sporty’s Academy President