Flying in the
Test pilots and researchers are flying a
one-of-a-kind flight simulator the FAA
has built from a decommissioned
helicopter to enhance rotorcraft safety.
// CHRIS TROXELL
The FAA Technical Center has a new simulator,
and it may be the only one of its kind – anywhere.
Built and operated at the Laboratory Services
Division’s Cockpit Simulation Facility (CSF) from
the front end of a decommissioned Sikorsky S-76
commercial helicopter, the center’s new flight simulator
provides realistic fidelity while simultaneously serving as a
low-cost tool for engineers to conduct research into
improving rotorcraft safety.
The research couldn’t come at a better time, as the FAA
saw a surge in fatal helicopter accidents during the first
half of 2019. Some 15 accidents resulting in 27 fatalities
occurred between January and June in the USA— placing
it on track to be the deadliest year for helicopter pilots and
passengers since 2013.
The CSF team acquired the front end of the chopper about
three years ago from a salvage wholesaler in Florida. The
helicopter had been flown around the Caribbean for
28 SHOWCASE 2020 \\ AEROSPACETESTINGINTERNATIONAL.COM
1 // Practicing an oil rig
approach on the simulator
1 (Photo: FAA)