Tactile simulator to assist with training its pilots
In its fledgling years, Swiftair operated two airplanes, and today there are 44 aircraft in its fleet. Over 400 employees work for the company. The models employed on its regular and charter lines are: ATR 42, ATR 72, Boeing 737 300, Boeing 737 400 and Embraer EMB-120.
It flies to destinations in Europe, Africa, the Middle East and Central America. Its main base of operations is at Madrid Adolfo Suárez Airport.
The need outlined
In 2014 Swiftair management asked Simloc to develop and manufacture a simulator with the differences between the ATR 42 and ATR 72 models. The simulator had to reproduce the aircraft of the company’s ATR fleet as faithfully as possibly, concretely the ATR 42 registration EC-JAD and the ATR 72 registration EC-KKQ.
The training device would have to provide crews with both normal operations and abnormal emergency procedures. As well as take-offs, ascents, cruise ship flights, automatic pilot operations and approaches.
The specifications required:
- A navigation database that included at least the entire Spanish air space
- The selection of navigation assistance and VOR and ILS approaches
- Visual system that would allow for the selection of different weather conditions, day or night and at least three Spanish airports, including the main Madrid airport, Adolfo Suárez
Solution provided by Simloc
The project kicked off with a simple demo: only one computer and one touch screen with a primary ATR model. The company liked the idea and the next steps consisted of creating an ‘embryo’ that would eventually be converted into a simulator that would include eight tactile screens and three mega-screens for visuals. A project that was unprecedented and never before attempted or executed as a whole in Spain.
Further, the company decided to incorporate physical controls, such as a throttle identical to the real one, a control column and pedals. The development team also managed to reproduce operation gestures with absolute faithfulness in a tactile environment that were easy for pilots to interpret.
Hardware and software ideated and developed by Simloc
When designing such as essential part as the throttle, Swiftair’s assistance was inestimable by providing us with access to an aviation unit that was used as the reference for reproducing functions and behaviours. The next step for an initial prototype manufactured with ‘easily mouldable materials’, which was created in record time: only one month. This let the controls be tested for ergonomics and operating ease to later delve into a research process of tactile multiple engines that—as mentioned—had never been done before in our country.
Regarding the software requirements, Swiftair also chose Simloc due to the delivery timeline and economical cost that it could commit to. The company made the right decision by picking Simloc and—even though our IT team spent many long sleepless nights—it achieved the target, consolidating each phase: overhead, autopilot, cap, FO and pedestal until the complex visuals were fully integrated.
We must stress that Swiftair helped and verified the entire process, sending over two experienced pilots to perform intensive tests with the aim of debugging any failures, adapting to precise specifications, cleaning, black box data, FCOM…
In short, an endless number of software and hardware developments that met with great success by obtaining AESA recognition so that a Simloc simulator of differences was certified as a suitable tool for its professional undertakings.
The solution provided by Simloc was the right and excellent choice for our company. Since the ATR differences simulator was commissioned that we operate, the advantages obtained for our company have been extraordinarily positive. Its immediate usability, positioning and repositioning all merit mention, in mere seconds. Its resistance to failure and errors are also notable, as well as its low maintenance and consumption.
Finally, due to implementing the simulator at our Madrid facilities, we have obtained great improvements from a work viewpoint, as we no longer need to send our crews outside of Spain to receive this type of training.Swiftair senior management
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