one-G is the company to look into for innovative financing solutions in bringing simulators to flight schools at no upfront cost other than shipping, a physical space and the utilities to run them. We interviewed one-G’s Dave Rider in a post last year and revisited them now to ask about new and noteworthy progress with their programs. Today, their Access Program puts simulators in the hands of flight schools in North America on a pay-per-use formula, which frees the school-owners from costly investments while providing their students with FAA-certified simulators.
To unpack the offering a little more, we called Dave, the company’s VP, and ask him how did they come to this specific financing mechanism and how’s it performing. Dave’s logic appears to be solid: simulators are good business, especially when they are acquired at no upfront cost.
Firstly, he maintains, consider what happens when students first start training. They are essentially learning the basic controls and behavior of the aircraft while flying. Dave says that flight schools lose more students in the first 10 hours of training than any other period. This could be attributed to the cockpit environment which could be unfamiliar and a bit confusing at first. Flight simulators greatly help in getting students acquainted and comfortable when, or even before, stepping on the real aircraft, minimizing the drop-out rate. A second reason is softening aircraft wear and tear. Once they have accrued some experience in the sim, students are more likely to develop correct habits, and may be more mindful about treating the aircraft well. This potentially decreases maintenance cost and the risks of accidents especially in those first, critical, 10 hours.
Secondly, Dave described the advantages of buying into Access Program: “We send you a simulator at no capital cost to you, you paid only for shipping, and you run it in your school. As for the process, you first contact us to apply for the program. Once you meet our acceptance criteria, we deliver the sim and you can start training.”
Managed in a tier system, the program cost less the more it’s used. For the Foundation sims, one-G tiers go as follows: between 0-20 hours per month at $55/hr for the six-pack configuration ($70 for the G1000). After this initial tier the prices for either configuration (six-pack or G1000) is the same and prices go down for each 10 hours of additional use per month: 20-30 hrs of use charged at $49/hr; 30-40 at $46/hr; 40-50 at $43/hr decreasing further for additional hours. Maintenance is provided by one-G which still owns the simulators through the program. We checked flight simulator prices in US schools and found them ranging from $60 to over $90 per hour, depending on the type of simulator and if analog or digital panel. An instructor adds a minimum of $40/hr and as high as $70. With a revenue margin which could easily exceed $30 per hour plus, possibly, instructor time, you can see why this could be a good way to go versus a straight purchase. Check our ATD comparison table to see the cost of over 50 ATDs.
From a user perspective, charges start once the student or instructor click on the “begin session” button and end once they log off. Students routinely sign themselves in and out, sometimes avoiding ‘whole hour’ price (no fractions) that some schools charge. The software that operates the sim is part of the suite of management tools that one-G offers optionally as well. The software, called the one-G Portal, includes an array of helpful tools to streamline the administrative aspects of pilot training including logging instructor and student training hours, training related documents and resources, record keeping, account maintenance, and billing.
So far one-G offers the program only in the U.S. but is considering expanding into Canada and outside North America into Europe once they receive EASA certification. one-G currently has more than 30 Access Partners and the number is growing rapidly.
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