So numerous are the ways in which electric vertical take-off and landing aircraft differ from conventional aircraft that one aspect is often overlooked: many eVTOL designs have only a single pilot station, meaning that traditional dual flight instruction in these models won’t be possible.
Complicating things further is the fact that each of these novel fly-by-wire aircraft will likely have a different control scheme. Most airplanes fly like airplanes, and helicopters like helicopters, but a Joby aircraft doesn’t fly like either of them, and it also doesn’t fly like Beta’s eVTOL. While eVTOLs are designed to be easy to fly, they won’t be trivially so, and pilots who come to them from other aircraft will be limited in how much they can draw from their previous flight experience.
All of this will make simulation critically important for eVTOL pilot training, and many eVTOL developers have already struck deals with simulator providers as they begin creating their training programs. Less obviously, it’s also possible that solutions developed for the eVTOL space — where training costs could have a big impact on profitability — will benefit the entire aviation industry in the future.
Simulation is core to pilot training at the airline level and is used to train in many smaller aircraft types for safety reasons, but full motion flight simulators that cost millions of dollars only offer a significant cost benefit for aircraft that cost tens of millions. The eVTOL sector’s existential need to scale these economics down without sacrificing training quality may provide a boost for new tech that could help train more airplane and helicopter pilots, too.
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