Recently I came across a company called Throttetek, a flight simulator throttle manufacturer. Their products are very unique and in an excellent quality. I was wondering why this guy is so fancy on throttle.
Today, Mr. Roberto Soriano, the CEO of Throttletek, is going to tell us why he specifically put his time on developing throttles.
(S – SIMGAZINE , R = Roberto)
S: For those simmers who know throttletek, they must know that your company is a flight simulator throttle specialist. In case they do not know throttletek, can you please give us a little bit more backgrounds of your company and yourself?
R: Our company is based on my home country El Salvador, we are a small 4 person company that started in 2009 with a small CNC machine nowadays we have 2 Laser cutter/engravers and a couple of high END high precision CNC machines, plus several other things to create throttles. My background is in the aviation industry. I have been an Airline pilot for the last 13 years and have been flying for 19. I am currently Captain in the A-320, having also flown as a Captain in the Embraer E-190 so I am one of the few people in this business that when we make a product I try to integrate the feel and realism to our products that I experience on my day to day line of work.
S: Are you working in your company in full-time basis? Or this is just your part-time job?
R: It is a full time job as I design every single throttle. I am in charge of sales and after sales support. I have to balance my real life flying with my business at throttletek.
S: How can you manage to be a pilot and at the same time having a business at throttletek? It would be very difficult to manage two full time jobs at the same time.
R: Well one thing complements the other my experience is traduced into my products plus it allows me to be able to visit simulators and aircraft in order to get the info needed for the throttles we design, it is quite a challenge but have been managed both jobs the last couple of years.
S: Why do you start developing and producing throttle in specific for flight simulator?
R: I started flying simulators since 1995 when I was 16 years old and since the beginning there has always been a lack of hardware specially throttles on the market. You always had joysticks and yokes buy never something as important as throttles being developed realistic and more important at an affordable cost.
S: Are your products hand-made or in mass production?
R: I am proud to say they are all precision cut and milled but they assembled and finished by hand. We are not like the huge joystick manufacturers that make generic hardware out of molded plastic we try to put a lot of work and detail into our products and this take time and a lot of artistic touch.
S: If the finishing is by hand, would it take a very long production leadtime? And would it limit the capability of your business expansion?
R: Yes but quality of our products is more important. We are always working on better ways to improve our products and make it faster this is why we are investing in more machinery and personnel.
S: Can you introduce your key products to our audiences? How does it compare with the similar product in the market?
R: Well, our best sellers are the G737v2 which is based on the Boeing 737 and the A320 flightbox. I don’t like to compare my products to anything available cause to be fair I have never used any other hardware from anybody else, what I can say is that our product feel like the real thing. We put a lot of work and thought on the throttle to feel realistic and heavy like it does in the real aircraft. Take for instance our A320 flightbox there is not a similar product in the market especially at this price. All detents are modelled and I worked the feeling to be as accurate as the planes I fly. The A320 flightbox is like having a small pedestal with the most important flight controls modelled into it, perfect for the aspiring Captain or even for training as several real Airbus pilot costumers I have are using them for.
S: What are the major challenges of being a FS hardware manufacturer? How would you overcome these?
R: One of the biggest challenges is that people want amazingly realistic hardware for pennies at a time and that is hard. Some people expect durability and quality of parts that sometimes cost what a house costs and this expectation is hard to meet. We do our best to deliver a great product made from great quality materials at a great cost so that it is affordable for the costumer.
S: According to some market researches on FS industry, which states that from now to 2021, there will be an average annual growth of 4.1% per year. Is your company planning to grow or you are happy with your current business size?
R: Yes – we are coping with that growth. We are buying new machinery and we are re-launching several of our key products for a lower price to compete in this growing market.
S: Other than your existing products, do you have some new products in pipeline or under development -which you can share with our audiences?
R: We have several products coming soon. One of them is our Boeing F-18 throttle which has been a challenge. We have managed to make an amazing high quality replica with milled Grips and metal handles that gives the feel and sturdiness of military Aircraft we have even managed to add real F-18 switches and transducer for added realism.
At this point throttletek has designed 22 different throttles so far and we have 14 throttles for sale on our website we are the most diverse manufacturer of throttles in the world our throttle include: Boeing 767, 747, 737, 727, Airbus A320 familly, A330, A380 and A350 we also have E-190, Learjet 45, Cessna Citation Mustang and Citation II, Bombardier Dash Q400 among others, we have been featured in motion pictures like Star Trek into Darkness and we have throttles designed for Bombardier museum in Quebec as well as other Aircraft manufacturers in the world.
S: For the future move, will you develop the products other than throttles? Or you prefer to be the specialist of throttles?
R: We have plans for full sims and certain flight controls! We want to be able to offer full training and entertaining systems with the same quality and realism we have been adding to our products all these years. There is a lot of market and area for expansion we are just investing more in what we are good at… Throttles.
Towards the end of this interview, let us have a look at the A320 Flightbox in detail.