A dedicated and exciting flight training centre in the heart of São Paulo.
Delta 5 has an impressive line-up with six fixed base flight simulators on-site, from the Baron 58 to the A320 and B737. Despite a very busy training program for jet courses and instrument rating (IR) training they provided time for us to fly each simulator.
The other unique aspect of Delta 5’s operation is that they assemble their own simulators and manufacture many of the parts, in particular the plastic facings. This provides them with an ability to deliver on the quality of parts but also an additional line in their business through selling simulators and support packages to other training and simulator businesses.
The two Baron 58s are classified as Advanced Aviation Training Devices (AATD). Under the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA)’s Regulations, these types of trainers can be used for a lot of the training for an instrument rating.
The two Barons are identical in construction, visual displays, single pilot operations, seats, feel etc. The only difference being them is one is setup with a traditional flight instruments arrangement, with a supplementary basic GPS Navigation unit, while the other has the impressive Garmin G1000 integrated flight instrument system, with two displays; the left being the PFD and the right being a multi-function display unit.
The visual are a single projector unit onto a flat panel. Even though AATD’s are not designed for training in visual conditions, the detail around the Sao Paolo area was still impressive, including road traffic, and was more than enough for the setup.
The next simulator we tried was the King Air, with its multi-pilot setup and the Garmin GPS 500 high-resolution display unit. The King Air is a Flight Training Device (FTD) Level 4 training simulator (or the more technically correct name is “device” as under the FAA rules only those simulators that move can be called a simulator). This means that the “simulator” is “similar to a Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT). This level does not require an aerodynamic model, but accurate systems modelling is required” (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_simulator).
The King Air is an impressive setup, being a true representation of the real cockpit, with flight controls both sides for multi-crew operations as required and a 110 degree curved visual display screen using a single projector unit. This, along with the Prepare 3D software package, provides a good level of detail and a really nice visual picture. The visual were smooth, well lit and the curved screen provides just that touch more realism when compared to the flat panel.
We then moved onto the A320, which is a FTD Level 4 unit with 210 degree three projector display visuals. Along with the B737 simulator this is a busy simulator for Delta 5 with regular jet courses passing through their eight day training program.
We tested the feel of the simulator for taxiing and a departure, along with visuals which included rain and snow. From the side displays the weather looked very realistic compared to the real thing, but the front display wasn’t quite as that experienced in real life. However, although the display panel was made up of three flat panels there were no light or dark areas in the joins and the projected movement was smooth and realistic. As with the Barons and King Air, the graphics package is the Lockheed Martin Prepare 3D. The airport and terrain detail was very good and gave one a real sense of being on the flight deck.
As with most simulators ground maneuvering isn’t quite like the real aircraft. However to be fair, even the Full Flight Simulators (FFS) Level D that I have used also struggle to accurately represent the feel and dynamics of ground movement. So in comparison to those simulators the Delta 5 devices do a good job.
The flight deck is an accurate representation of an A320 setup, even with a full circuit breaker panel (which is for show, but does add to the feel of simulator). The switches and buttons operated as they should and the overall layout look is very realistic providing an immersive environment.
The instructors panel, behind the two pilots’ seats, provides full control of the virtual environment and aircraft. This enables the aircraft to be flown in all weather conditions and non-normal scenarios, with fully functional switches and buttons on the flight deck to deal with such situations.
Following the Airbus we moved onto the B737, an aircraft I’m much more familiar with having flown the 300, 400 and 500 versions previously. This Level 4 FTD is based on the B737-800 NG model and looks very impressive. The visuals are the same setup as the A320 with three flat panels and three projectors providing an immersive 210 degree Prepare 3D display, again with excellent airport detail and surrounding terrain. Although the visuals seem to struggle a little more, when compared to the A320 and there are noticeable, although minor, lighter and darker join lines where the flat display panels meet on the left and right sides respectively.
We taxied off stand for a rolling start departure following a standard instrument departure. The aircraft handling is accurate in roll but a little more sluggish in pitch. A fully functional flight management computer (FMC) provides the pilot with all that is required, including of course vertical navigation (VNAV). All flight modes worked well and the autopilot functioned as one would expect in the aircraft.
An instrument landing system (ILS) CAT 1 was performed in good visibility; very good terrain and weather detail. The flight director (FD) function seemed to struggle a little with the ILS in pitch mode, as it failed to provide correcting guidance as we moved away from the glide slope. Even at one dot low the FDs did not provide correcting pitch guidance to bring the aircraft back onto the correct path. As we only did the one approach and so did not test it again, this could be due to the simulator just having a bad day, as they (and pilots) sometimes do.
Like the A320, the B737 simulator instructors panel provides full control of the environment and aircraft systems.
Agusta AW139 Helicopter
The final simulator looked at was the Agusta AW 139 helicopter, which was quite the experience as one has never been in a helicopter (simulated or real). Let us say my helicopter handling is going to take a little more practice – José is a most patient instructor.
The Agusta, like the Barons, is an AATD with a flat panel single projector visual display setup. The only difference in visuals is X-Plane is used as the software package.
This is the first simulator business the Simulator Review team has reviewed that has a helicopter and so is another real positive for Delta 5, providing something to the public that few other providers do.
Due to the lack of experience in the team with helicopters there isn’t a lot we can comment on regarding the handling of the device compared to the real setup. However, the fully functioning cockpit, including autopilot capability, FMC, multi-function display and PFD, and standby instruments was impressive and provides a very immersive environment.
An excellent setup of simulators providing a variety of experiences in realistic environments with very good visuals. The only niggle that some very keen flight enthusiasts might find are the seats. Remembering this is primarily a training business setup for jet and IR courses, seats are therefore not very important. However, if you are looking for say the full electric moving Airbus seat etc, these are not fitted. Actually none of the seats had a vertical adjustment option, so one may need a more manual device option (often called a cushion) if that is something needed.
Delta 5 has a great location, based on Campo de Marte Airport. Opened in 1919 Campo de Marte was São Paulo’s first airport and so is a real link back to aviation’s heritage.
The premises were easy to find on google. I used Uber from my hotel and the driver dropped me off right outside their door. Signage on the building is good and the security staff at the gate know exactly where it is and can point this out as you come through.
As mentioned, access to Delta 5 is through a security check-point. Although there is a charge for parking at the airport, Delta 5 will often assist with this; it just depends on how busy their simulators are at the time, in particular with the jet course training that is currently in full swing. Therefore if they have any spare allocated parks available these are available for visitors.
The premises are clean and tidy: a ground level building with Delta 5 having use of the whole premises. There is a welcoming entrance with seating, including an original aircraft seat row for the true enthusiast. Free WiFi is available while you wait and toilets are just down the hall. Being a ground level building access for those less mobile is made easier, although there is the usual small small step-up into the flight-decks of the A320 and B737. Based on our experience in dealing with Delta 5 we are sure they are very happy to talk about any needs or concerns you may have here, so just reach out to them beforehand and speak with them about your requirements.
Right from our initial contact with Delta 5 by email to organise a visit, their communication has always been friendly and prompt. And this experience carried on in meeting both the owner, Mauro Ramalho and his right-hand man José Olyntho Machado Jr. José spent over four hours with us going through each simulator, explaining the business and even providing a tour of the land-side part of the airport and a look at the many different operators based there. One derived a real sense of passion and enthusiasm for flight training and the desire to provide a quality service to their customers from José.
At any time there are 12 to 15 instructors who are a mix of current or retired airline pilots. Standard Airbus and Boeing operating procedures are used in training, with full Quick Reference Handbooks (QRH) on the flight decks for the jet training. So if you are interested in trying something more challenging in the simulator Delta 5 can certainly help.
There are two, very well priced, simulator experience products available from Delta 5. The first under “Professionals” is tailored for the professional pilot looking for jet familiarisation, preparation for selection, IR training or even hiring a simulator with or without their own instructor (you make the selection from a drop-down menu). While the “Entertainment” packages are tailored for either buying a gift voucher for someone else or buying the excellent “Pilot for a day” option. They describe this package as “… an experience in flight simulators of the most popular aircraft of Brazilian aviation (Boeing 737 or Airbus A320) with 90 or 120 minutes in duration”. And at R$350.00 this is very good value!
Delta 5 is a business that has a real passion for flight training and provides a quality, excellent value for money, choice for those wanting to further their career through jet training, IR training, or someone just wanting to further their interest in flight simulation. It’s a business we can recommend to our readers and look forward to seeing the business grow and visiting it again when back in Brazil’s most populous city, São Paulo.
Review by Andrew, March 2020.