With high-end products, a targeted marketing philosophy and worldwide support, Entrol, a Spanish company based in Madrid, is a manufacturer to watch.
The company employs 25 people in their headquarters, which also serves as showroom and support center. The factory is attached to it, making it a more efficient and cost saving enterprise. All software and hardware development is done in house, in true OEM fashion, with the exception of actual aircraft avionics and controls which are acquired directly through the original manufacturers as needed.
The company was established in 2005 by brothers Luis and Pedro Olarte. Luis, the current CEO had a background in business, and Pedro, an aeronautical engineer decided to develop the first Flight Navigation and Procedures Trainer or FNPT for short, EASA’s denomination defined as follows: “Flight and navigation procedures trainer (FNPT) means a training device which represents the flight deck/cockpit environment including the assemblage of equipment and computer programmes necessary to represent an aircraft or class of aeroplane in flight operations to the extent that the systems appear to function as in an aircraft. It is in compliance with the minimum standards for a specific FNPT level of qualification.” The FAA equivalent of an FNPT is an FTD. Their first FNTP was developed for a Spanish flight school. Attracted by rotary wing simulators, they built and delivered a Dauphin simulator to NVH, a Belgian operator, thus going over their countries borders for the first time. At this point of the evolution of the company history, unfortunately, the economical crisis hit hard. The company survived especially through their helicopter portfolio, which made it for a niche market. This became part of their overall philosophy: build high-quality training devices of a specific aircraft type. As a market strategy it’s sound, there are simply not as many manufacturers in this niche as we find in AATD-type training devices.
The company has since then grown faster. In the past six years it has placed simulators in Vietnam, Malaysia, Argentina, South Africa and in and around Europe in countries like Italy, Germany, France, Belgium, Sweden and Estonia. This year their first simulator will be installed in the USA. Entrol is making the expansion into the US market a strategic priority. South Korea and Japan will also be targets for 2018.
We spoke with Nacho Navacerrada, Entrol’s business manager: “The difficult thing in the US market is to place the first but once you are in it will be easier for us to place more units.”
He adds: “The capability to develop new models is one of our main strengths. So on the one hand we have our already rich portfolio (see some of their offering on our comparison review), but our capabilities allow us to develop new models at any time. So if an operator or a school is interested in a specific aircraft we can develop it for them. We have developed several in the fixed-wing market, including the Airtractor, the Piaggio Avanti, Socata’s TB20, a King Air family. At the time of this writing an FAA-approved AATD model is also available and another is under construction. It is also important to notice that many of our simulators have an MCC denomination, an add-on that allows any level of FNPT to be used for Multi Crew Coordination training”
Nacho explains that Entrol is more focused on FTD Level 5 and 6 simulators for general aviation and helicopters. “In many projects – he says – we compete with Frasca, they have a wide range of FTD Simulators. In developing FTDs we are very efficient and can bring a new model out in a relatively short time.”
“Our models are in a solid niche market. They may not be as popular as other simulators, like Piper or Cessna, but they fill an operator niche which is important providing a solution which balances quality and cost. We specialize in FTDs and we do not compete much with AATD, against Redbird and such, we don’t have to do that.”
So far, their market in Europe has been flight schools and operators, aviation training companies and they will continue to be in that market segment.
As mentioned, Entrol does everything in-house. Their visual displays are about 180° by 40° for fixed wings. For helis they provide larger displays up to 200° x 70°. One of the innovations they bring to the market is a vibration option. This option, which is meant to provide realistic movements, creates an authentic flying environment by replicating real flying conditions. In their helicopters simulators vortex ring, translational lift, turbulence and engine issues are all much more realistic than in static models. An excellent sound system complements the sensory inputs provided.
Nacho adds: “Our simulators add a very realistic, true to the aircraft cockpit and sensory inputs. There are many certified simulators today that don’t look and feel anything like an airplane. We try to replicate all that a crew would feel.”
Also offered as options are the “missions” which provide very specific scenarios for training, including fire-fighting missions, oil rig landings, search and rescue and more.
Across the board, Entrol offers real instruments and controls to be interfaced with their simulators, GTN 650/750, Bendix-King lines, Collins and more. Training sessions can be rehearsed in the “debriefing station” allowing instructors to look at students’ performance and go through each flight’s issues. For helicopters, there is also an option to simulate a FLIR forward looking camera.
Nacho feels optimistic about the future of the company, given the high-quality for their products and the growing simulator market worldwide. There has never been as good of the time for aviation training as the one we are currently living.
We look forward to test-fly their simulators in Madrid this fall, and to continue to follow their progress and inroads in the FTD market.