The FAA has given the nod to the TouchTrainer – a home-based basic avionics training device (BATD) based on the X-Plane software with which you can stay instrument current in the comfort of your own home. You can even log up to 10 hours toward your instrument rating with this system, as long as you have an instructor by your side. The producer of the TouchTrainer, a company called Fly This Sim, claims this as the first touch screen, home-based simulator to be certified by the FAA.
The simulator displays the cockpit view – the outside view as well as the avionics panel - on a large Acer touch-capable computer screen. Some avionics input is done on a separate auxiliary display. This setup appears to be very logical since avionics input is often completed in a separate column in the airplane. The setup also allows for a larger sized instrument panel on the main display.
The screens are incorporated with a PC-based computer as well as a control stick, rudder pedals, keyboard and mouse. The computer can also be used for other home computer uses. Skype is already preloaded for product support purposes.
Fly This Sim has been producing simulator software for years, but this is the company’s first attempt at a complete simulator solution. Currently, the system includes Cirrus’ instrument panels. You can switch between Perspective by Garmin, the Avidyne glass panel and the round gauge version. All the buttons on the screens look identical to those in the airplane and they are all functional. The system is set up so that you have to input information just like you would in the real airplane. You even have to prime the airplane in order to make it start. There is also a button that allows you to pull the parachute, though naturally the simulation of this action is very different from the real-life activation of the system.
Because all buttons on the panel are incorporated into the touch screens it will be reasonably simple to add functionality to the system. Fly This Sim is currently working on incorporating Cessna’s instrument panels into the system.
The logical upgrade would be the new touch screen avionics, such as Garmin’s GTN 650/750 and G2000 systems. However, at this time, Fly This Sim’s Co-founder Eric Paton would not comment on whether this upgrade is going to be available any time in the near future.
The price of the TouchTrainer varies. The home-based, FAA-certified version costs $3,900 and the Commercial version $4,900. A non-FAA certified system is also available for $3,500. This version does not include the rudder pedals and there are some minor software differences, but the functionality is otherwise identical to the other versions. The cost of the sim includes one year of software updates.