ALsim Interview at Airventure 2018

August 2, 2018 / Comments (0)


/ By Gabriel Accascina

AFSBI: Let’s start with a little overview of the company for our readers and members. Give me an idea where you’re based, how you started.

ALsim (Mike Tonkin, Business Dev. Director): Based in the west of France, for almost 25 years. Next year is Alsim’s 25th anniversary. The company was born with two people working out of a garage, Jean-Paul Monnin who is a software engineer, and Jerome Binachon who was an Air France first officer. Jerome felt that the flight training to arrive his position he was 20 at the time, was not sufficient. He wanted a better level of training for ab-initio pilots. They came together, basically were friends in university, and they started to build a simulator. The first simulator was just a single engine, no screen, just for procedures. We find ourselves 25 years on now! We are now forty five employees producing around 35 sims a year at the moment. Here we are in the AL250 (see flight review here). This is a sim reconfigurable between a Cessna 172, Piper PA28 and a PA44 with a glass configuration or with six pack with a standard analog configuration. This switches via the instrumentation in a matter of minutes including the throttle quadrant from single to twin.

AFSBI: So you are in France and you have representation in the US?

ALsim: We have an office in Austin, Texas where we have sales business development and marketing. Hot line technical support is local too, based out of Virginia, In the US we have a local installation team based out of Florida. We are very strong in Europe, Western Europe, U.K. Spain, Holland, France, and across Canada we have a quite large amount of clients. Asia is becoming a growing market. We’re now focused in the USA heavily, opening offices here. We’re looking at opening a production facilities here from second half 2019. So we plan for the U.S. within the next year or two to be independent able to sell, market, produce, install and support.

AFSBI: Alright so from certification viewpoint, AATD?.

ALsim: AATD in the US and FNPT II in Europe. In the machine we have next door which is the specific Cessna Skyhawk we are Level 5 FTD. We have 330 sims in 52 countries around the world, all certified by their relative authorities. I think we have about 20 simulators based around the U.S. We just placed two with our new client, Cirrus Aviation in Sarasota, Florida. They have this simulator, that’s the AL250, which they bought last year. In about 30 minutes today they’re arriving here in Oshkosh to collect the new 172 FTD simulator, which we will crate for them, leaving here and going straight to their premises. We have another large client in Kent State University, they bought four sims last year after trying them here. Since then, we’ve been through a long tender process with them. Obviously it was a published tender so it was up to all the manufacturers, and we won the deal for four sims. So they’re taking two AATDs and two of the FTDs which will be delivered to their new building next summer. So, type-specific, we have the C172 for single and and the DA 42 for twin. We are looking at making it interchangeable DA-40, DA42 because it is a large demand for this on the European market. More and more we see increasing demand in the U.S. market as well because Diamond is starting to take their place in the US. Other than that we focus on generic. A new product we will launch next year which we are developing with APS, Aviation Performance Solutions, were based in Arizona, the world leader in upset recovery training is the “Airliner”. This will be a reconfigurable Airbus 320, Boeing 737. We’ll be delivering to them third quarter 2019. We are already taking pre-orders for 2019, 2020 on Airliner.

AFSBI: So tell me a little bit about the technology.

ALsim: It’s all our technology, we don’t use any third party software, external software we develop all our own visual system. We decided to do this a long time ago because we don’t want to be held by third party sources. If there is problem we can fix it. If there’s evolution we can evolve. This is something our ALsim always believed: flight models, for the time being, are generic but very close to the aircraft characteristics. In the cockpit a lot of the components we build ourselves. There are some specific parts, like in the 172, that we buy directly from Cessna. The only parts off the shelf are Dell PCs and Canon or NEC projectors.

AFSBI: So what are we looking at in terms of visuals and realism?

ALsim: Three Short Throw NEC projectors. We have our own blending software that we use. We look for immersion. Motion is perceived 80% through the eyes. So we focus on the visual and we focus on the control loading system. So we have electronic servo drive systems on the pedals and on the yoke. When you synchronize this well with a good visual system refreshing at 60Hz. There is really no need for motion.

AFSBI: Avionics?

ALsim: We do have specific Garmin and real Garmin from their factory so that we can have real database, that you can subscribe to, so any procedures or approach that you wish to take are there. On aircraft-specific we have the G1000. We have a direct relationship with Garmin. We interface their avionics with our simulation software and they help us write the software for it.

AFSBI: Price tag?

ALsim: The AL250 is marketed in the US at about $200,000. The C172 FTD with Garmin 1000 is marketed at $300,000. Prices also depend on other factors of course.

AFSBI: Support?

ALsim: As far as support we have sims in operation for 25 years on we’re still supporting today, they’re still certified today. We have since ended  upgrades for the older ones so we can’t develop new technology but we continue to support them.

AFSBI: Thank you for your time.

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