As you can imagine – we get this question more than any other. The simple answer is: It depends on your needs. Due to the tremendous difference in simulator products we offer, simulator cost can range in price from several thousand dollars to many millions of dollars. To get a more meaningful answer, we need to break it down to product levels.
Entry Level Reconfigurable Device (RTD)
Our least expensive simulator, the Frasca Reconfigurable Training Device or RTD, represents simple systems and aircraft. This Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) is ideal for small single-engine aircraft flight training and recurrency. The device features a simple open cockpit, highly standardized instrument panel and flight controls, and the ability to represent multiple aircraft. Because of its simplicity and standardization, this simulator is produced in large numbers, allowing us to keep costs down. This multi-purpose simulator cost starts at $50,000 for a single aircraft model with steam gauge configuration and a single channel visual system. We offer several options to further customize the device to your specific needs – multiple aircraft, Garmin G1000 NXi glass cockpit, and multiple video channels – which can increase the cost to $120,000 or more.
Full Flight Simulators (FFS)
At the opposite end of the spectrum are the highly customized FAA Level B-D Full Flight Simulators (FFS), which typically cost between $5 and $15 million. What drives simulator cost for the FSS is the highly customized design built to the customer’s specific needs. Heavily regulated by the FAA and EASA, they include six axis motion systems, control loading systems, visual systems, instructor stations, exact cockpit replicas, and a sophisticated aircraft data package. While most of these features are common with lower Level FTDs and the FFSs, in the case of the FFS, they must meet the exacting requirements of regulating authorities, including initial approval and quarterly tests to maintain the approval. These approvals are handled by Frasca and are included in the price.
Additional items factoring into Full Flight Simulator cost include; real aircraft parts from the OEM, avionics from the avionics OEM, 6-axis motion system, advanced visual system and many other customizations. Cost also includes licensing intellectual property and data packages from parties involved in the aircrafts design and manufacture, which is a significant investment covered by Frasca.
Flight Training Devices (FTDs)
While there is a wide price range between Frasca’s lowest and highest priced simulators, Frasca offers a large selection of options and devices priced between the two extremes to fit your training requirements and budget. These include FTDs for both fixed wing and rotary wing aircraft.
Frasca offers a number of fixed wing and helicopter Flight Training Devices (FTDs) that are built to print (BTP). These units represent specific aircraft and are typically configured for FAA AATD, FTD5, and FTD6 approval as well as EASA FTD 2 and FNPT 2 approval. Frasca’s BTP FTDs are existing designs which means that we amortize development costs over a large quantity of units. Available for Cessna, Piper, Diamond, Cirrus and other popular fixed wing aircraft, our build to print FTDs include standard features as well as many options, such as a choice of avionics packages and visual systems. The simulator cost of a fixed wing FTD is largely dependent on a customer’s configuration and options chosen. Frasca’s BTP FTDs start at $200,000 for a piston aircraft and $700,000 for a turboprop or jet aircraft.
Frasca’s helicopter FTDs are also built to print and available to represent a variety of rotary wing aircraft from Airbus, Bell, Robinson, Leonardo and others . The range of options for helicopter FTDs is even larger than those for fixed-wing. Cockpits and visual systems can include NVG stimulation and complex display systems with up to 10 channels and projected field of views up to 80 degrees vertically and 300 degrees horizontally. Additionally, specialized mission simulation for EMS, law enforcement, firefighting, etc. is available with specialized equipment and databases.
Generally speaking, because of their increased complexity and options, helicopter FTDs have a higher simulator cost. With demand for these FTDs lower than fixed wing FTDs, lower production efficiencies and fewer units increase the cost to absorb Frasca’s engineering investment. Considering all of these factors, helicopter FTDs costs typically start at $350,000 and can go up to $4,000,000 for the most complex, turbine-engine aircraft with additional features and mission scenarios.
As you can see, there are a lot of factors driving simulator cost. Frasca’s pricing is based on our operations and product line. Other simulator manufactures will have different product lines and pricing. However, if the price ranges offered here are substantially different from those of a different simulator manufacturer, it’s prudent to make sure the comparison is to a device with similar features and qualification levels. It is also important to take into consideration customer service, installation, training and warranty.
Feel free to contact us anytime to discuss the details of our simulators, cost, design, and return on investment with respect to your needs and your budget. We’re happy to answer any questions you may have.