Recently, we had the opportunity to visit Entrol’s factory in Torrejon de Ardoz, Spain. We demoed one of their advanced helicopter sims and visited their production floor. Probably the first thing to say about this OEM (original equipment manufacturer) is that, as it should, Entrol designs, develops and manufactures all components in-house. The only exceptions are parts that are already branded, such as radios, which are purchased directly from those companies.
Our guide for the day was business manager Nacho Navacerrada, whom we previously interviewed by phone and who was as friendly and competent in person. At the EATS conference in Madrid in the days preceding our visit, Entrol had displayed their en-4000 (FNPT II MCC / AATD simulator SEP / MEP / JET) which we saw being flown in its jet configuration. Check out this perfect landing in the video below.
The 4000 is a flexible solution for fixed wing. Fully reconfigurable it should appeal to flight schools who are looking for a sim to use through the entire range of training from ab-initio to multi-crew coordination. At the Entrol facility, we had the opportunity to fly the popular light twin engine Eurocopter 135 sim and learn about new effective solutions to simulate critical issues in this class of aircraft. (See the video below for a snippet of our flight.)
One of these solutions is the use of small actuators to simulate critical rotor conditions such as rotor vortex. The sim is mounted on four actuators with a travel of about one inch. This provides a very realistic rendition of the flapping and cockpit shaking created when entering the vortex and enough movement to recover when pitching down.
Of note is the dome display which allows the pilots to see under their feet and be able to better approximate ground proximity for landing. The scenery we used, flying around Madrid, was exceptionally sharp and developed by Entrol through satellite imagery.
In the video below, Nacho explains how important motion and vibration are, especially in helicopter training.
The magnitude of the vibration and its frequency was, to say the least, very convincing. Control forces, control positioning and feel was as it is in the real aircraft.
Nacho took us on a tour and gave us a glimpse of the production floor. Essentially, Entrol builds each simulator to suit after conferring with the client regarding their needs and specifications. On average, the time to completion is about 6 months. If the product is new, i.e. representing a type of aircraft Entrol has not made before, the research and development adds more time to the production cycle. Research on the flight model, physical characteristics and “look and feel” of each simulator is painstaking. Entrol actually rents the real aircraft, measures it, flies it, and collects data from the flight recorder to model the simulator performance on it. And it shows.
On the factory floor we saw four new sims being assembled, including the en-1000 which Nacho described as “the little brother” of the en-4000 in the early stage of preparation. The impressive thing about the factory is how quiet and professional everyone was, and how professionally detailed the components we saw were. from the seats to the cyclic and collective or yokes, throttle quadrants, overhead panel and cabins. Each of the sim representing an actual aircraft were exact replicas. The generic ones made you wish there was an aircraft looking like that. They were that good.
Overall, our impression of Entrol was extremely positive. We have included some of their AATD/FNPTII in our comparison list and we believe their cost-effectiveness makes them a very attractive choice in their sim categories.