Making Sims Affordable

Redbird Flight Simulations is on a mission to extend the reach of training technology

“We actually care about general aviation. If you look at the state of general aviation in other countries — like Europe with its user fees — without organizations like GAMA and AOPA the U.S. general aviation industry would quickly get to that point too. User fees would just kill us.”

Redbird is exhibiting at the 2010 AOPA convention, and Gregoire says the annual National Business Aviation Association meeting is on its 2011 target list. The company hasn’t entered the turbine arena yet, but it remains a possibility.

Explains Gregoire, “We wouldn’t limit ourselves; we’ll develop what people are asking for. The FMX was developed as a single-engine piston aircraft trainer primarily. As we get into larger aircraft we’re developing new sims for those. Stretching something from a 172 to a King Air essentially makes a mediocre King Air sim; and we don’t want to make mediocre.

“As we get into larger sims like the King Air or a Citation or Gulfstream, we’re building cockpit-specific sims that are specific to that cockpit.

“Every time we build a new panel we submit for certification. The TDs — tabletop displays — are certified as basic aviation training devices; the FMX, the SD, and the LD are AATDs. The King Air will be an AATD as well. “

Cockpit-specific sims are more expensive than the existing FMX, but are still less expensive than other units on the market, according to Gregoire. Besides the King Air Simulator for the FAA, Redbird is developing a Piper Meridian/Mirage matrix, cockpit-specific simulator that it is building for a training school in Vero Beach, FL, near the Piper factory.

The company is willing to work with customers of new models when it comes to research and development costs, if there is a market for more units. “If you want a sim for a Beechcraft Starship, we might have to have you cover all the R&D costs,” comments Gregoire.

Among other products, Redbird offers the XWind Crosswind Trainer which simulates winds up to 30 knots. It is currently developing the Parrot, a fully integrated artificial air traffic control simulator to facilitate pilot/ATC communication.

Explains Gregoire, “It’s an add-on that will work with all of our sims, including the very first ones we ever sold. It’s another computer, essentially, that networks with our sim computer, and we install some software on that to handle the communications.”

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