Aereform, aviation technology llc. has started investing into development of flight simulators in early 2015. This was due to a technological development of VR googles into such an extent that they became commercially available and viable.
Over the next two years we slowly developed our proof of concept simulator – which simulated the supersonic interceptor of the Soviet Union – MiG-21bis.
This unusual choice was made because of three elements:
The Aereform and Aeronavt teams loved the experience and from what started as a research and proof of concept project grew into an VR based mechanical sculpture. Linking original, unrestored MiG-21 parts from the seventies with the latest VR technology produced a creative outlet for a very contained aviation team. It provided an outlet in which we could show our unrestrained energy, passion and love.
The MiG-21bis simulator probably is the most unbridled symbol of our core values.
Incredibly the Mig-21bis simulator is also commercially successful. Being a piece of art it was rented by the Cultural Centre of European Space Technologies. There the impressiveness of VR flight was experienced by thousand of visitors.
The rent contract of the simulator ended in November 2017, but was extended to end of January due to the high popular demand and acclaim. With March 2018 the simulator will be available as a part of a high quality museum exhibition. A business model is starting to emerge to place VR simulators into museum or specific cultural organisations.
During the development of the MiG-21bis simulator we applied our gained experience to another simulator – this time the development being more complex.
The second series of simulators we built is named X-ALPHA. It is a simulator for two Pipistrel aircraft – the Pipistrel ALPHA Trainer and Pipistrel ALPHA Electro. Since it can simulate both – it is a cross, fusion, therefore named X-ALPHA.
The knowledge we took forward from the MiG-21 bis is how to seamlessly fuse the virtual audio-visual experience with mechanical tactile experience. In this we became masters and is the key to the incredible immersion we achieve with our simulators.
With this project we had to develop the aerodynamic and 3D model of the aircraft. This forced us to study how to convincingly make a virtual 3D environment suited for VR goggles, wrapping it with convincing textures, but all the while making it acceptable for frame-rate counts of the normal gaming computers.
The X-ALPHA is a commercial success. In less than a year since the introduction, there were seven simulators sold and more imminent orders on hand. It is very likely that the number will exceed ten simulators sold in the first year since the introduction of this model.
This success has also been recognised by the wider audience. Our company with at that time six full time employees received the national Chamber of Commerce award for innovation in 2017, which is nationally the only innovation award, the importance of which was underlined by the president of Slovenia giving the opening address to the ceremony.
This was further enforced by the visit of Primer Minister of Slovenia Miro Cerar PhD to fly the X-ALPHA at our workshop in December 2017.
Now our team is in a perfect position to develop and build VR flight simulators. We can develop aerodynamic and VR models and we build all the mechanical and sensor systems in-house. And we look forward to all the wonderful challenges coming our way.
But our greatest asset is that our extensive experimentation with the actual use of VR simulators enables us to know what works and what not and in which areas the development and potential lies.
All the while we will seek to design and build the simulators with exploring of deeper rules of VR integration, with aesthetic and mechanical integrity and above all, we will attempt that the final results will show our passion for creative exploration of new fields.