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Redbird rolls out Alpha, STEM labRedbird rolls out Alpha, STEM lab

Redbird Flight Simulations displayed a small-scale version of a manually operated full-motion simulator during EAA AirVenture that the company hoped would lower the cost of flight training. The all-metal proof-of-concept Redbird Alpha deploys weights, pulleys, gears, and jack screws for six-degrees of movement, said Redbird’s Josh Harnagel, as he swung the pilot’s platform to and fro, up and down, side to side.

Redbird Flight Simulations Marketing Vice President Josh Harnagel explains a mockup of the firm's Alpha simulator concept that uses weights, counter balances, and jack screws rather than hydraulics to operate as a six-axis training device during EAA AirVenture on July 22. The company hopes to bring the device to the flight training market if it can be produced at an affordable price point. Photo by David Tulis.

The design idea is based on maximizing fulcrum and balance points for movement rather than through hydraulic and motor assistance for climbing, turning, and rolling motions.

Harnagel said that Redbird intended to produce the simulator in a full-size version if it could be made substantially less expensive than multi-million-dollar devices currently in the professional pilot training marketplace. “It certainly will be less [money] than what’s out there or we won’t make it,” he said.

Air carriers require their pilots to regularly attend full-motion simulator training sessions where they are exposed to routine and emergency scenarios. The training devices are very expensive and very large—American Airlines had to break through concrete walls and rebuild them after adding newer hydraulically operated simulators to its Dallas/Fort Worth facility.

The Alpha is “smaller, lighter, and has less power requirements” than a traditional hydraulically operated system, Harnagel noted, and could lead to “a more affordable price point” for the airlines.

In other news, the Texas-based simulator company’s science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) lab introduced during 2017 EAA AirVenture drew a steady stream of young people to the company’s red-and-white tent display. Redbird education department’s Joey Colleran said students brushed up on their skills during aviation-themed classes conducted at the STEM lab during EAA AirVenture. Some of the courses covered an introduction to aviation, aerodynamics and design, aeronautical decision making, airspace and navigation, aviation weather, and more.

Elsewhere on the AirVenture campus, the firm’s full-motion Xwind crosswind training device tested the mettle of flight instructors and pilots who visited the Pilot Proficiency Center. Redbird said the Xwind simulator was conceived to help pilots become proficient at battling crosswinds and wind gusts, which the company noted were key factors in weather-related landing accidents.

The booth at Redbird Flight Simulations draws a crowd at EAA AirVenture on July 22. Photo by David Tulis.
David Tulis

David Tulis

Associate Editor Web/ePilot
AOPA Associate Editor Web/ePilot David Tulis joined AOPA in 2015 and is a seaplane-rated private pilot who enjoys vintage aircraft, aerobatic flying, and photography.
Topics: EAA AirVenture, Pilot Training and Certification

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