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Simulator allows students virtual helicopter experience

Central Oregon Community College has a new, technologically advanced helicopter simulator.

The new simulator is roughly 20×20 feet, and it nearly takes up the whole room that Leading Edge Aviation keeps stores in it at Bend Municipal Airport. It is powered by a computer the size of a large filing cabinet. Three video projectors cast a virtual world onto a 180 degree wraparound screen. The Simulator models an Robinson R-44 helicopter, and allows aviation program students to virtually fly around about half of Oregon.

This new flight simulator is so advanced that aviation program students can log flight hours toward their helicopter pilot certifications with it because it is certified by the Federal Aviation Administration. The F.A.A. is the official authority of all aspects of civil flight. For simulator flight hours to be counted toward pilot certifications the simulator must, in all technological aspects, be the aircraft.

The flight instructor that administrates the use of the simulator can make changes to the environment, such as weather conditions, obstacles, and can even impose technical malfunctions to the helicopter so that the student can have experience dealing with problems in a safe and controlled manner.

Flight simulators typically last about ten years before new technologies make them obsolete. However, it is projected that this new simulator will last longer than a decade. But like all things, it will eventually be replaced when it is no longer the most current, useful thing around and when the means to replace it are available.

“This is a level 5 helicopter flight training device,” said Karl Baldessari, COCC’s aviation program director.

The simulator is among the most advanced in the whole nation because level 5 is the highest level that has been reached by helicopter simulators.

“There’s three of these in existence right now, this one, one [Frasca] sold to the Chinese government and one that’s sitting in their factory,” said Baldeserri.

Aviation program students will benefit from this new piece of tech because it is a much more cost effective and safe way to log flight hours as opposed to the traditional alternative; flying a real life helicopter.

 

Larry Farington | The Broadside

Contact: lfarrington@cocc.edu

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