5 December, 2022 — Zurich, Switzerland and San Francisco, CA - Loft Dynamics AG, creator of the world’s first and only virtual reality (VR) simulator authorized by a major aviation regulator, today announced it has re-branded and raised $20M in financing. This is the company’s first institutional round, led by U.S. technology investors Craft Ventures, Sky Dayton, and Up Ventures. The funding will accelerate Loft Dynamics’ growth into international markets, particularly the USA. The rebranding from VRM Switzerland to Loft Dynamics positions the company for global expansion at a time when the pilot shortage has reached a crisis point and the need to reduce air pollution has never been more urgent.
Helitrans has already been using the VR simulator internally for its own pilots, but will now also rent it out to other operators. “At Helitrans, we are concerned with flight safety, not only for our own pilots and machines, but for the entire industry. This simulator moves flight safety, in the domestic segment, quantum leaps forward, and it is important for us that the entire industry can benefit from this.” says Melhus. Helitrans has invested in two Airbus H125 simulators, one located at CAE's training and simulator centre at Gardemoen, by Oslo’s main airport, together with other flight simulators based there, while another has been installed at a mobile facility that can be moved as needed. This provides great flexibility for both the company's own and for others' needs.
Loft Dynamics has further enhanced its innovative VR technology that was first qualified in 2021 for a different aircraft. Backed by Airbus Helicopters’ expertise, the newly qualified H125 simulator meets FTD Level 3 requirements and achieves a very high representativity level. An in-house developed electrically driven high-dynamic motion platform and our full replica cockpit layout in combination with the Loft Dynamics pose-tracking system, allow the pilot to operate the helicopter like real. The VR system with 3D vision and high-resolution sceneries rounds up the full- body immersion. A novelty is the common tablet with stored checklists and other documents which is fully integrated in the virtual world. This allows the pilot to operate a real tablet in VR for the first time ever.
EASA, Loft Dynamics and Airbus Helicopters open the door to new standards in helicopter pilot training by qualifying an Airbus Helicopters H125 flight training device (FTD) Level 3 with Virtual Reality (VR) technology at Helitrans in Norway. This training device is approved by Airbus Helicopters and enables pilots to fly and feel the H125 with a level of fidelity very close to the real helicopter in all phases of flight and during emergency situations. The simulator will be used for pilot training and checking and will provide training credits.
At the 2021 European Rotors rotorcraft trade show in Cologne, Germany, Airbus Helicopters and Loft Dynamics announced that they have been cooperating during the development phase of the simulator manufacturer's H125 full-motion virtual reality simulator, which offers a very realistic rendering and representative pilot experience that will help enhance operational safety.
CHH has been in contact with Loft Dynamics throughout the development of their product. Since the debut of the prototype and our presentation at the Heli-Expo in 2019, I had the opportunity to demo the machine at that time and found it to be profoundly unique. The fidelity of the VR interface and the response of the machine allow for immersion and realism that is unparalleled. A simulator of this quality allows for additional practice of basic maneuvers, but additionally allows emergency procedure recognition and recovery to a level that is not prudent or possible in an actual aircraft. The unique capability of this machine, however, is the ability to track and quantify the pilot’s visual response and reference. This allows new insight into why maneuvers are successful or unsuccessful and empirical data to compare.
As a world premiere, EASA qualifies a type-specific Robinson R22 Virtual Reality Training Device developed and built by Loft Dynamics. The version for the Airbus H125 will follow shortly. Thanks to a unique technology developed in-house, the Swiss high-tech training solution provider is the first to receive approval for a VR training solution from an aviation authority. Pilots can now have simulator time credited to their flight training and benefit from the high training value of the device. Flight schools and helicopter companies thus increase flight safety in the operation of their helicopters.