Success Story of Loft Dynamics
Loft Dynamics, Formerly VRM Switzerland, Raises $20M to Transform Virtual Reality Pilot Training
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.
The world's first mobile approved Airbus simulator
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.
AIRBUS Approved Training Device
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.
Loft Dynamics and Airbus Helicopters cooperate and qualify under EASA regulations the world’s first H125 Virtual Reality Flight Training Device Level 3
In May 2022 the first VR Airbus H125 FTD level 3 was qualified by EASA in Oslo at Helitrans. One as a fix and one as a mobile version. Which is the world’s first qualified mobile training device with motion. In the following weeks the simulators at Mountainflyers and Air Zermatt were qualified. This allows now to execute type ratings, licence and operator proficiency checks on these devices.
European Rotors 2021
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.
Colorado Highland Helicopters is the first US customer
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.
World’s first qualified Virtual Reality Training Device allows time to be credited towards flight training.
In April 2021 VRM Switzerland was the worldwide first company which was able to qualify a virtual reality training device. EASA the first authority which proved this technology. The development of the Airbus H125 was already started at that time. Airbus Helicopters became aware of the project. In a collaboration the H125 training device was optimized.
EASA Partnership / EASA Rotorcraft Safety Roadmap
To work towards a qualification an innovation partnership contract with EASA was signed. The focus was to qualify the Robinson R22 training device. Many tests and evaluations with test pilots, flight instructors and pilots helped to prove the technology and to optimize the accuracy of the simulation.
VRMotion AG / VRM Switzerland
EASA became aware of VRM Switzerland. A delegation of specialists visited us to evaluate the potential of the system. Mountainflyers and Heli Academy could be won as launching customers. Air Zermatt joined the project as development partner. The importance to qualify the device to get credits towards training was obvious.
Many trade fairs and events followed to demonstrate the new technology. Feedback from more than 500 pilots was received to improve the simulator continuously.
HSR Research Partner
An exclusive commercial partnership with IPACS, the developer of Aerofly, was established. This software is especially suitable because of the own graphic and physics engines. From now on everything of the training solution is developed in house.
Research Partner HSR / OST
A collaboration with the Technical University of Rapperswil, today named OST, arose. Many research projects were launched. A milestone was the development of the motion compensation algorithm which enabled to use a VR Head Mounted Display on a moving platform. At that time the resolution of the displays was a restricting factor to generate an immersion as desired. The motion platform and the motion cueing were continuously optimized.
VRM Switzerland discovered the virtual reality technology. The potential of the new 3D visual system in combination with a motion platform was obvious.
The first simulator was built. However, not a flight simulator, but a train simulator. It is still used at railway research laboratory.