Low cost flight training simulators to aid pilot training


Chief pilot for the Auckland Rescue Helicopter
Trust Dave Walley with Massey flight simulator
expert Savern Reweti.

When the Auckland Rescue Helicopter Trust was looking for a way to cut the high cost of pilot training, the solution came from an expert in flight simulation at the University’s School of Aviation, lecturer Savern Reweti.

Mr Reweti has based his PhD thesis on several low-cost flight simulation development projects. Working with the helicopter trust, he has played a key role in the development of a BK117 helicopter procedural simulator. Based in Auckland at Mechanics Bay, the simulator is providing ongoing training for the trust’s seven operational pilots who regularly fly on rescue missions across the region.

Trust chief pilot Dave Walley says the high cost of instrument training – almost $300,000 an hour on a real helicopter – was stretching the operational budget of the charitable trust, and the need for a cost- effective simulator was urgent.

“Because we fly on instruments, our pilots have to practise constantly to keep their skills up," Mr Walley says. "Without this simulator we would have to spend huge amounts of money flying around in helicopters for skills training. Massey and Savern Reweti have been very important in making this happen.”

Mr Reweti, who has been involved in the development of simulators for more than a decade, says the project was a perfect fit for him because he is dedicated to developing low-cost simulation devices.

He was responsible for all the software design and the customised scenery and software links with the hardware control modules. He says the next step is to gain Civil Aviation Authority certification, which would give the simulator considerable commercial potential. With private funding now available, he has begun designing a second simulator.

The trailer-mounted simulator will also be an important promotional and marketing tool for the trust.

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