VRM Switzerland has received approval from the European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) for pilot training credits in a type-specific Robinson R22 virtual reality flight simulation training device, the world’s first VR-driven FSTD to receive approval from an aviation regulatory authority.

Qualification for an Airbus H125 VR-FSTD is also expected soon.

The VRM Switzerland simulator features the Varjo VR-3 head-mounted display, a motion-mounted replica cockpit representation which combines VR imagery with haptic touch for key controls, an innovative camera and sensor system which tracks the pilot’s head, eye and body positions and movements, plus an array of sophisticated algorithms to create the levels of visual, motion and aural cues required for rotorcraft pilot training scenarios.

The breakthrough device was evaluated by an EASA team which included test pilots, operations pilots of various nationalities from industry and regulators, and helicopter flight instructors.

“This evaluation confirmed the suitability of the VR concept for training purposes,” said Fabi Riesen, CEO or VRM Switzerland, “particularly for cases such as autorotation, hovering and slope landing where exact height perception and a wide field of view are required.”

The VRM R22 VR-FSTD has been qualified at a current-regulation FNPT II level, for which EASA permits up to five hours of training credit toward a PPL licence, 10-20 hours for a CPL(H), and five hours of night training.

Because of limited availability of EASA examiners, only 15 “qualification slots” are offered by VRM in 2021. Norway’s largest inland helicopter company, Helitrans, has already reserved two of the slots.

The Airbus H125 trainer will be available with a sling load training option (HESLO).