We started our all-sim and aviation tour in Lelystad, Netherlands at the Aviation Museum during the two-day FSWeekend. What a great venue for a great show! Our booth was right under a Dutch-made Fokker F27 Friendship. We took that as a good sign of things to come and indeed many new friends we made.
The show brought together simulator professionals, enthusiasts, virtual ATC groups, and many virtual airlines in an amazing space full of real aircraft, helicopters and even a KLM 747 parked outside the door for visitors to explore.
The stats were impressive, over 1,200 visitors a day. The organizers told us that on sunny days they usually get less people, but the sun was shining and people kept coming. A good sign for the sim industry which seems to engage more and more people every year.
An entire section of the venue was taken over by home-builders and makers, some very young kids, as well as college students, showing off their simulators, and teaching other kids how to take-off and land. Some of these sims were pretty impressive, mounted on home-made motion platforms. The University of Delft School of Aviation was well represented, with a regular simulator and a VR based system. Lots of competence and energy there. The kids of the Air-Scout troop of Lelystad built an excellent and very cute simulator, and we saw a pretty spectacular F16 AM sim.
In the entrance hall, a variety of retailers were selling parts, software, and new and used equipment. Several virtual flying clubs set up camp in two large meeting rooms covered with wall to wall monitors and full of very active virtual flyers. We interviewed KLM Virtual Airline, and a number of other enthusiastic attendees.
Around us were many manufacturers of professional sim components. We had a chance to interview some of these exhibitors on video as well and will post more info about their products in full details.
Here is a rundown of the most interesting conversations we had: Hanne Koole, the managing director of ProSim Aviation Research who talked about the two different market segments they engage: prosumers and professional training simulators. As a Dutch company, they were right at home in Lelystad. Their software offerings, behind many of the advanced B737 and A320 sims we see today, keep impressing for their faithful accuracy and sophistication (see interview here).
Next to our booth, Jose’ Manuel Roldan whose ClearToSim‘s amazingly faithful replicas of aircraft pilot seats turned many heads. From original fabric to accurate seat belts, these are the seats you want in your sim. We see them integrated in many of the professional simulator offerings for airline training around the world.
Mario Ackerman, at Brunner told us about their product line. Their world renowned force feedback yoke is a pleasure to operate and worth the expense if
you are serious about how control forces need to be addressed in training (see interview here). We had the chance to experience the smoothness of their 6DOF motion platform a day later at TRC Simulators, and we really (really) liked its realistic response, lack of jerkiness and smoothness of movement. Andreas from FS-Flightcontrol spoke to us about his instructor station, which we reviewed in a recent post (see interview here).
Alain Loiseau’s Blue Cockpit, a consulting company assisting flight schools with setting up and even leasing professional-grade simulators opened our eyes on how many of the products we saw here are finding their way to the professional market (see interview here).
What to say of Claudio Azimonti’s team at CPflight? Their products are a work of art. From B747/737 to the A320, their pedestals, overhead panels, MCPs and FCUs are as real as if taken right out the aircraft, down to the smallest of details, including back-lighting, knobs and displays.
A number of European vendors are entering the market with A320/B737 completely integrated sims and components, such as Marcin Kapera’s British SKALARKI (video) and Polish SimOn Solutions by 4Fly (video), among others. Their demo simulators were very impressive, and popular at the show.
Finally, let us give a special mention to legendary Russ Barlow, evangelist for SimInnovation‘s AirManager, the now ubiquitous instrument panel software reproducing quite an amazing number of avionics on your desktop, tablet or even phone display. Russ treated us to a rundown of AirManager and even gave us a primer on LUA programming (see interview here).
Overall this show was really dynamic, mainly because of the range of attendees’ age and interest. Quite differently from other simulation events, FSWeekend was attended by a crowd ranging from 3 to 90 years old. Little kids, eyes wide open to see up close such an amazing number of simulators and real aircraft dangling from the air, teens and young adults who impressed us with their technical know-how, and simulator and aviation veterans who have been attending for years. The event was extremely well organized and the setting in the Aviodrome Aviation Museum is unbeatable.
For additional reporting from the show check back here in the upcoming weeks and subscribe to our YouTube channel to see all our videos and interviews.