Amazing Technology Now Being Fielded Worldwide (Part
By ANN Correspondent Kevin "Hognose" O'Brien
The GL-1500 is still on
the drawing board today. The next step down from the G-FET-II in
the regular ETC line, regularly being delivered, is the Gyro-IPT.
IPT stands for "Integrated Physiological Trainer" and ETC is on its
second generation of these machines. This machine doesn't have the
centrifugal acceleration cueing or the plug-and-play
interchangeable cockpits of the G-FET-II. It doesn't have the same
degree of customer customization. It also doesn't have the
treasury-busting price tag.
The Gyro-IPT can imitate multiple machines, but it doesn't do it
with quite the verisimilitude of the G-FET-II. For one thing,
everyone gets the same stick and pedals (there is also a collective
available for VTOL craft). The instruments are software-generated
(they are in the G-FET-II also, but it has a plastic overlay that
increases the realism). It can move to a limited degree in all
axes, and it can spin round… together with the visual and
aural cues it adds up to quite a realistic flight. The Gyro-IPT
might be a good choice for smaller militaries and larger pilot
training academies and colleges. It is less costly to operate that
an actual airplane, and, like all ETC's simulators, you can do
things in it you simply wouldn't do in a real airplane.
Thanks to ETC I was able to spend quite a bit of time in a
Gyro-IPT that was completed and being prepared for shipment to its
new owner, the Air Force of the Czech Republic. This trainer is
configured for several aircraft, among them the L-159 ALCA, the
MiG-21MFN, a twin-turbine (Mil?) helicopter, and the Zlin-142.
Given my general aviation/ultralight background, I should have
stuck with the Zlin. Instead, I boldly grabbed the L-159. It turned
out to be a good choice; the plane is stable and viceless. In other
words, it made my ham-fisted flying look acceptable.
One anomaly struck me - the gauges of the L-159 were metric, and
the HUD was in knots. Apparently that is because the HUD is a NATO
I boldly zoomed off down the runway… "Er.. what are the
v-speeds on this thing?" From the control desk, one of the
Turkish software wizards replied: "Heck, I don't know… I'm
an engineer, not a pilot!"
Kids, don't try this at home…
I discovered a lot of things about the L-159 (assuming the air
data model is good). Spin entry and recovery are normal, but it'll
also recover if you just remove spin-inducing controls. On the
other hand, in the landing configuration stall warning is just
about absent, so the airspeed indicator is your friend. As is usual
in ETC sims, the spins feel like spins (except for the one I
entered at ten feet above the runway - see comments above on stall
warning). For situations like that, ETC thoughtfully provides
something you won't have in the real plane: a big red RESET
One nice feature of the Gyro-IPT is that all of the
disorientation programs developed for the GAT-II have been carried
over perfectly. Hazardous disorientations can be induced in a safe
training environment - which sure beats experiencing them for the
first time in flight.
Like all of ETCs simulators, except the theme-park rides which
rely heavily on hydraulics, the Gyro is electrically actuated. The
electrical functions of the machinery can be monitored in real time
from the operator's console. The machine includes diagnostics and,
of course, the necessary safety interlocks.
Later, I was able to observe a lady who was a helicopter pilot
flying the Gyro-IPT in helicopter mode. She had a lot of hours in
Robinsons and a few in a JetRanger. She was impressed with the
panoramic view and with the "feel" of the simulator.
One big advantage to the Gyro-IPT is that, unlike the
centrifugal sim which of necessity must be a fixed installation,
the Gyro can be transported and set up quite quickly in any regular
The Affordable GAT-II
OK, so you want full motion flight simulation… but you
can't spend the cost of a military fighter (G-FET-II) or a bizjet
(Gyro-IPT). Well, ETC also makes an excellent general aviation
trainer, which sells, oddly enough, for about the cost of a
trainer. We've covered the GAT-II extensively before so I won't
dwell on it too much. They have gone to Embry-Riddle, to UND, and
to foreign universities and air forces as well as to flying schools
here in North America. The GAT-II has enough movement about its
axes, along with 360º rotation, to be completely convincing in
normal GA maneuvers. For example, a spin really feels like a spin,
although neither the entry nor the recovery is quite as dramatic as
it is in a real airplane - this machine can do it all, except put
the Gs on you.
When we flew it a few years ago, it was hypersensitive in yaw,
kind of like a Pitts rudder mated to the 172 that was supposed to
be the air data model. That, I can tell you, has been fixed. It
appears to be a sales success for ETC with several GAT-IIs on the
floor, approaching completion, and a couple running, ready to
ETC expects improved FAA certification for the GAT-II trainer,
allowing more time to be logged in the machines and increasing
their utility to flight schools. You can find out if a school near
you has one by checking the ETC GAT-II web site at www.etcaircrewtraining.com/gat2.
There is a helicopter version of the GAT-II as well, called the
GAT-II Helo. I didn't fly this for two good reasons - it had been
cannibalized for components for one of the other sims, and more
seriously, I'm not a helicopter pilot. This machine has a
historical and engineering tie to the G-FET-II, though: it was the
first ETC simulator to use a panoramic viewscreen. It was
necessary, of course, because helicopter pilots are accustomed to
looking through the chin bubble at the ground.
Versatility is an ETC Hallmark
There are a lot of uses of this kind of imaginative engineering,
apart from the flight simulators we are most interested in. I have
already mentioned the curious case of the Disney Mission: Space
ride. Another theme park ride, Wild Kingdom, puts the riders at the
wheel of a Jeep in the African savannah.
ETC's simulation prowess extends to many other types of
simulation as well: industrial process simulation,
disaster-recovery command-post simulation.
Another ETC line includes medical devices: hyperbaric chambers.
We'll spare the Michael Jackson jokes; these machines have many
medical uses. Specialist doctors use hyperbaric chambers to treat
decompression injuries such as "the bends." hyperbaric
chambers routinely are used to treat burns, and are becoming more
common for treating wounds.
ETC continues to make
neat things that train better pilots, but the neatest that we have
seen so far is the G-FET-II centrifugal flight simulator. We're
hoping to get in and get a chance to fly it before this one ships
to its waiting customer.
Such devices are probably going to remain in the realm of
militaries and other large organizations for the immediate future,
but some of the technology has obvious potential to adapt to
general and transport aviation.
In the meantime, if you get a chance to fly any of ETC's
devices, don't pass it up.