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Frasca Completes TH-73A FTD Simulator

Smaller, Non-Moving Flight Training Device is More Efficient, Low-Profile Aid

Department of Defense contractors at Naval Air Station Whiting Field have completed new design to provide affordable flight training to pilots of the Navy's upcoming TH-73A.

The TH-73A Part Task Trainers (PTT) and Desktop Avionics Trainers (DAT) could prove to be a cheap, simple training option for future naval pilots, allowing instructors to perform basic flight procedures and lessons without using up the extensive footprint of a full-flight moving sim. A full suite of training adjuncts will likely find their way into Navy hands, since the TH-73A helicopter will be replacing a collection of 36-year-old TH-57B/C Sea Rangers.

While the essential elements of the PTT system look no different from many other FTD's in use throughout the country, it will be a decidedly more efficient change of pace for IP's. The smaller, non-motion footprint allows more effective use of floor space in training facilities, and its fairly accurate cockpit layout manages to ape the most important aspects of a real TH-73A without too much systems depth. That combination should allow students and instructors to spend their time better, getting the virtual aircraft up and running so they can focus on the lesson at hand. While the larger, more fancy full-flight simulators are the gold standards as an overall training aid, they are overkill for certain phases of training, like holds and instrument navigation.

“FRASCA is working to install eight new TH-73A Flight Training Devices and modifying the 10 existing TH-57B/C models to better reflect the Navy’s TH-73A aircraft,” said Randy Gawenda, business development manager at Frasca. “Frasca’s mission here is to build a training ecosystem that will guide students from familiarization to being proficient and ready to take on more advanced training scenarios.”

“Aechelon’s mixed reality seamlessly blends tactile components of the cockpit, like the knobs, pedals and other individuals in the cockpit, within a high-fidelity virtual world, which supports the same extreme 3D high-density databases in use on the highest-end simulators,” said Javier Castellar, Chief Strategy Officer at Aechelon Technology Inc. “Most notably, because of the support of fully simulated Night Vision Goggles on a mixed reality environment combined with the stereo camera processing and merging between real-world and virtual in day and night, students can more effectively train muscle memory, so it becomes second nature when the time comes to fly.”

“Because the TH-73A PTT was built to have a smaller footprint than traditional Flight Training Devices, it’s more cost-effective to manufacture,” added Gawenda. “A smaller system also allows more devices to be operated at once and exponentially more students to gain the experience they need to become fully operational pilots as soon as possible.”

“Even though the simulator’s virtual components were formed around the TH-73A, the general framework can be repurposed to create other simulators for other airframes and any advanced sensor suite configurations,” said Castellar. “Everyone on this program has a hand in pioneering a new era in mixed reality simulators, and it’s absolutely monumental.”



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