Partner with ELITE for your FTD simulators

With 30+ years of experience, in-house hardware and software teams and a number of high level military and civilian customers.

The impact of FTDs (Flight Training Devices) in the flight simulator industry and how ELITE has secured its position in the worldwide market with these full-size replicas

After the success of continuous production and sales of FSTDs such as AATD, FNPT II and FNPT II MCC, things have taken a huge step forward with the additional task of providing custom built FTDs. These are full size flight training devices with a grounded base, designed and manufactured with the latest cutting-edge technology. They are also called FBS (fixed base simulators). For all the projects, ELITE has been able to build the simulators in original aircraft and cockpit frames and bodies. This approach caters towards customers and their special requirements, in this case for specific aircraft types and a realistic flight experience.

 In the aviation industry there has been a long going trend of customer wishes to purchase and operate a custom built FTD. The aim is to give the pilots and students the chance of experiencing an even more realistic flight simulator environment in original cockpits. «It feels like stepping into the real thing», is the common feedback of pilots when entering one of ELITE’s FTDs. Such an addition to a flight training organization or flight operator gives an extra value to both line pilots, student pilots and is considered as a safe investment with high returns.

What is surprising for our present FTD clients is, that both purchase and operating costs of an FTD are much cheaper than those of a full flight simulator. This is a fantastic opportunity to cut down overall expenses by opting for a cost-effective ELITE flight training device.

With a strong Systems Engineering competence in flight simulation, we make sure that each project follows all required phases and milestones: from requirements gathering to preliminary / critical design review, through the development and manufacturing phase, and ending with a managed integration and qualification phase leading to the successful On-Site-Acceptance. At ELITE there are no limits in terms of aircraft types and designs. More than 30 years of in-depth knowledge, thanks to the team of engineers, that have close ties to, and in some cases have graduated from the renowned Zurich ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule), even the highest expectations can be met. ELITE guarantees the requested aviation authority certifications as the QTG Team is highly versed on the respective aviation authorities requirements, whether that be EASA, FAA or any other local legislation.

What defines this new training device? An FTD represents a full size replica of a specific aircraft type’s instruments, equipment, flight dynamics, panels and controls in an enclosed aircraft flight deck. However, it does not include a motion system and has different sophistication levels, which are marked by numbers instead of letters in this case. EASA qualifies FTD Level 1, FTD Level 2 and FTD Level 3 (helicopters only) training devices. Furthermore, an FTD is mainly used to train standard operating procedures but also checklist flow and aircraft systems. An FTD doesn’t replace an FFS (full flight simulator), however recent EASA regulation changes now allow type ratings on an FTD. Flight operators are currently also allowed to use an FTD in part 1 and part 2 of the ATPL or CPL syllabus.

Whenever an FTO customer has approached flight simulator producers, ELITE has been known to be a company that comes up with the most cost efficient, technically advanced and sophisticated flight simulator hardware and software.  In the recent past numerous air force and civil customers were able to experience ELITE’s full size FTDs enormous range of capabilities and fidelity. ELITE has the know-how and manpower to provide solutions to even the most complex requirements, as has been proven by the orders from our clients worldwide. The “can-do attitude” of ELITE’s engineering team has convinced many world-wide flight training operators. If there is a flight simulator producer that can meet any request, then it is ELITE.

From scratch to on site Acceptance, ELITE’s marketing, sales, engineering, technical and QTG team are known to follow any FTD project through right from the start. Each FTD is basically the result of a carefully evolved process which enables the customer to accompany the project through each milestone very closely. A critical design review makes sure that all expectations are met. The results are individually designed and manufactured flight training devices that have been delivered to the customers in the shortest possible time whilst keeping up the highest possible quality standards.

In the past ELITE has successfully equipped customers in Europe, Africa and Asia with a good dozen of PC-9 M, PC-7 MkII and PC-7 FTD systems plus an Avionics Part Task Trainer (APTT), two Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT) and multiple Debriefing Stations. Ireland’s Irish Air Corps (IAC), India’s Air Force (IAF) and the South African Air Force (SAAF) are among the armies that are equipped with ELITE FTDs.


Pictured is the Pilatus PC 9M FSTD manufactured by ELITE for Pilatus Aircraft. This is a detailed replica of the original PC 9M, with full glass cockpit instrumentation, 220° external visual system with customized visual landscape featuring high resolution satellite imagery and DEM. It meets the EASA CS-FSTD(A) Issue 2 certification requirements. It is used by the Irish Air Corps as an integral part of a ground-based training system delivered to them as part of a contract from the Irish Ministry for Defense for eight PC 9M advanced turbine training aircraft.

Latest FTD job by ELITE constructed in tailor-made fashion

ELITE is very proud to be working currently on a Learjet FTD for GFD GmbH (Gesellschaft für Flugzieldarstellung). This German company performs highly specialized tasks in the aviation sector and is fully certified and licensed as an aviation company. For more than 50 years, GFD has been a reliable training partner for the German Armed Forces. GFD has a fleet of 15 specially equipped Learjets 35A/36A.

This current Learjet FTD project shows that ELITE has the necessary know-how to quickly interpret customer wishes and offer a flight simulator represented by a full-size replica of a specific aircraft type in an enclosed aircraft flight deck. The original Learjet cockpit was recently shipped to ELITE’s Headquarters in Dübendorf, Switzerland, where it is at this very moment being equipped with state-of-the-art flight dynamics, instruments, equipment, panels, and controls.

ELITE’s Chief Commercial Officer Christopher Reville is proud of his engineering team: “We have incredibly talented people who can offer tailor made solutions to satisfy even the most daring ideas.” Reville points out that under the recent EASA regulation changes FTDs are going to play an even bigger role in aviation training. This is why ELITE has made a big push with its new engineering program for FTDs, represented by yet another order won in June 2022.

Brand new order shows that ELITE is establishing itself and making a clear statement- in building FTDs

ELITE has just received a very prestigious order from a Scandinavian flight training operator who chose ELITE because of the excellency in high tech engineering. This FTD project “ELITE 723T FNPT II MCC & FTD level 2 Helicopter Flight Simulation Training Device” is a dual control seat Flight Simulation Training Device replicating an Airbus H135 helicopter, capable of representing all aspects of the operational envelope and featuring a Central Panel Display System (CPDS), incl. VEMD and CAD and fitted with two GTN 750 GPS.

Flight Deck controls, panels, knobs, switches and other components found in the actual helicopter are replicated in size, look, feel and functionality in the Flight Training Device. In addition to helicopter hardware, the helicopter systems and avionics are simulated in great detail to ensure the ability to train all phases of flight under normal, abnormal, and emergency conditions. Behind the Flight Training Device’s Flight Deck is an enclosed Instructor Operator Station with sufficient room for the instructor and an observer.

The ELITE training device comes with an ELITE automatic Qualification Test Guide (aQTG). This is an extensively developed application, created, and continuously improved by our engineers and developers. It assists in the execution of the objective tests and their results can be exported to PDF instantly. The validation data originates from engineering data, flight data and real firsthand flying experience. The ELITE aQTG meets EASA CS FSTD (H) Initial Issue requirements.

The entire ELITE team is dedicated to continuously proving that our direct, hands-on, no-nonsense approach to offering the most cost-effective, custom build FTDs, will convince many more customers, as in the past that the future of FTD lies within the inventive and reliable services of ELITE.


René Huddlestone

+41 43 355 19 40

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