• Pipistrel's X-Alpha virtual reality simulator. (Pipistrel)
    Pipistrel's X-Alpha virtual reality simulator. (Pipistrel)

Pipistrel Aircraft this week introduced their latest training concept: a virtual reality (VR) flight simulator for the Alpha training aircraft and the Alpha Electro.

The simulator consists of several elements that, when combined, offer a what the company claims is a unique, "99% realistic" VR experience of flying.

The simulator cabin is identical to the cabin of the real aircraft, and has two seats; one each for pilot and instructor. Controls such as the yoke, flap, rudder pedals, throttle and brake are all the same as the real thing, and the flight controls provide dynamic control loading, often known as "force feedback".

Virtual reality covering the cockpit and the outside landscape is delivered via a headset, which provides the pilot with a 360-degree view of the inside and outside environments.

According to Pipistrel, the VR headset enables the pilot to perform such tasks as leaning closer to the instrument panel to read the indications written in smaller fonts, look out through the window to check if the landing gear is still in one piece after the landing or check to see if the flaps are set as required.

Audio is fed directly through the VR headset, replicating real-world throttle settings and sound from actual aircraft recordings. The experience is highly immersive, and designed to mimic the actual aircraft experience as closely as possible.

The X-Alpha was developed in cooperation with Pipistrel test pilots and flight instructors, who were tasked with ensuring the behavior of the sim matched the actual aircraft.

Pipistrel believes the simulator can be used for basic flight instruction, as well as currency training.

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