Flight sim is a training device that duplicates artificially the conditions likely to be encountered during flying operation. They are widely used by the aviation industry and the military for pilot training, disaster simulation and aircraft development. Flight sim lends “stimulation” to the flight hard ware.
Different forms of flight sim
Flight sim can vary from video games to the full-size cockpit replicas mounted on hydraulic (or electromechanical) actuators, controlled by state of the art computer technology
Significance of flight sim
Flight sim helps learners or pilots to acclimatize with the practical conditions faced while flying without putting his life into jeopardy. Flight sim provides a logistical support for untrained aspiring pilots to graduate as a trained pilot, free from any hazards.
Origin of flight sim
Flight sim can trace its origin right from the Sanders Teacher, which was a complete aircraft mounted on a joint facing the wind and able to rotate and tilt freely. Later on, in about 1910 a flight sim was built using a section of a barrel mounted on a hoop. The period of 1930 witnessed mechanical simulation and Link Trainer was one such example.
Propelled by the concept of mechanical simulation the experts moved to electronic simulator and the period of 1940s witnessed Electronic simulators. The Celestial Navigation Trainer of 1941 was a massive structure 13.7 m (45 ft) high and capable of accommodating an entire bomber crew learning how to fly night missions. The Pan American airlines were the first airline to own a complete flight sim.
Application of full motions mechanism in flight sim
Another popular simulation system known as the “full motion systems simulation” was earlier used to simulate the ground terrain by which the pilots understood the position of the aircraft. The period from 1954 to 1977 saw the journey from motion simulator, which pitched, rolled and yawed to the extent of 3 degrees to hydraulic actuators, which controlled each axis of motion to the modern “cab” configuration.
Today’s role of flight sim
With the technological advancement, the role of flight sim is not confined to train only pilots in normal circumstances. In fact, its role as an instrument to learn and understand emergency operations like loss of flight control surfaces, complete engine failures and loss of pressurization has profoundly increased.
The modern simulators vary from simple “system trainers” to six degree of freedom motion simulators. For a flight simulator to be certified, it must be able to demonstrate its performance matching that of the airplane that is being simulated.
System trainer vs. Cockpit Procedures Trainers
System trainers are used to acquaint pilot about basic operation of aircraft system. Cockpit Procedure Trainer or CPT is the second step for pilots learning simulation. CPTs use exact replicas of the aircraft, and create the ambience of aircraft by simulating wind, temperature, turbulence and various sounds to offer the in depth knowledge to train flight crews for normal and emergency situation.
What is a full motion simulator?
A full flight simulator or full motion simulator is an advanced flight sim, offering “motion cues” which tend to deceive human sense organs, making you feel, as if you are flying. The full flight sim meticulously duplicates all aspects of the aircraft and its environment, including basic motions of the aircraft, like a true carbon copy of an aircraft.
Instruction Operating Stations
For the convenience of learners, instructors use simulators that are fitted with system where the instructor can quickly create any normal and abnormal condition in the simulated aircraft or in the simulated external aircraft environment referred as Instructor Operating Stations (IOS).
The situation can vary from engine fires, malfunctioning landing gear, electrical faults, storms, lightning, oncoming aircraft, slippery runways, navigational system failures and other problems where the technical knowledge and common sense of pilot is tested.
Next generation flight simulators
To give a more realistic experience of an aircraft, the continuous research led to high end commercial and military flight simulators. These simulators incorporate motion bases using systems like Stewart platform and hydraulic to provide the most realistic simulation possible.
Flight sim has seen many roles, the trend from videogames to the much-fancied image of dummy aircraft. Flight sim gives the taste of an aircraft without risking the life of trainee pilot.