The market for helicopter training is controlled by the same forces that any other market is. Although we might like to think safety is first, we know that money is.
As the data continues to pile up, supporting the fact that helicopter flight simulation is an affordable and effective means to train new helicopter pilots, helicopter simulators will only become more popular, more affordable, and more accessible to every helicopter flight training program.
Helicopters are expensive to purchase, operate, and maintain. The insurance requirements for covering them are getting more complex every year. All of this simply means that it is becoming increasingly difficult to attract new students and to get student helicopter pilots into the cockpit of a training helicopter. When it comes to helicopter training, a student's money doesn't go very far these days. No matter how you cut it.
So do we predict a future where every mom-and-pop helicopter flight school has a full-motion level-D helicopter flight simulator available to their students? Of course not, and this is one of the biggest misconceptions of helicopter simulation as related to helicopter training. What we DO predict is a ton of new, and relatively affordable, helicopter flight training devices of all shapes and sizes. Many running commercial-off-the-shelf software as their operating platform.
The complexity of helicopter flight training devices is being driven down as the research indicates that it is not necessary to have a full-motion and 100% ergonomically accurate helicopter simulator in order to achieve practical and safe training results. As the complexity comes down, so do does the cost.
The cost of a good helicopter flight training device is becoming so accessible that we have met helicopter pilots that have bought or created their own, because their school did not have one, or the one that they had was out-dated or too expensive.
Each helicopter training school has a student pipeline. That pipeline is a little different from school to school, but it is basically the same everywhere. The current pipeline requires too much focus on using real aircraft for simple training lessons and procedure tasks that can easily be accomplished in a helicopter simulator. The market from both sides will pressure the move to increased simulation in helicopter training program.
Helicopter flight schools will increasingly adopt this new training capability, as other shools lower their costs doing the same. Once helicopter training schools begin competing against eachother in this way, the prevelance of helicopter flight training devices in helicopter training programs of all types will increase dramatically. Students will be attracted to schools that can offer more training for less money. Only the schools that have embraced a strategic use of helicopter flight training devices will be able to provide this value. The others will come to be seen as inefficient and expensive.
Fact is, the future of helicopter flight training leads to helicopter simulation.