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Flight simulator

From Wikipedia, in a visual modern way
F/A-18 Hornet flight simulator aboard the USS Independence aircraft carrier
F/A-18 Hornet flight simulator aboard the USS Independence aircraft carrier

A flight simulator is a device that artificially re-creates aircraft flight and the environment in which it flies, for pilot training, design, or other purposes. It includes replicating the equations that govern how aircraft fly, how they react to applications of flight controls, the effects of other aircraft systems, and how the aircraft reacts to external factors such as air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud, precipitation, etc. Flight simulation is used for a variety of reasons, including flight training (mainly of pilots), the design and development of the aircraft itself, and research into aircraft characteristics and control handling qualities.[1]

The term "flight simulator" may carry slightly different meaning in general language and technical documents. In past regulations it referred specifically to devices which can closely mimic the behavior of aircraft throughout various procedures and flight conditions.[2] In more recent definitions, this has been named "full flight simulator".[3]. The more generic term "flight simulation training device" (FSTD) is used to refer to different kinds of flight training devices, and that corresponds more closely to meaning of the phrase "flight simulator" in general English.[4]

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History of flight simulation

In 1910, on the initiative of the French commanders Clolus and Laffont and Lieutenant Clavenad, the first ground training aircraft for military aircraft were built. The "Tonneau Antoinette" (Antoinette barrel), created by the Antoinette company, seems to be the precursor of flight simulators.

World War I (1914–1918)

An area of training was for air gunnery handled by the pilot or a specialist air gunner. Firing at a moving target requires aiming ahead of the target (which involves the so-called lead angle) to allow for the time the bullets require to reach the vicinity of the target. This is sometimes also called "deflection shooting" and requires skill and practice. During World War I, some ground-based simulators were developed to teach this skill to new pilots.[5]

The 1920s and 1930s

Link Trainer patent drawing, 1930
Link Trainer patent drawing, 1930

The best-known early flight simulation device was the Link Trainer, produced by Edwin Link in Binghamton, New York, United States, which he started building in 1927. He later patented his design, which was first available for sale in 1929. The Link Trainer was a basic metal frame flight simulator usually painted in its well-known blue color. Some of these early war era flight simulators still exist, but it is becoming increasingly difficult to find working examples.[6]

The Link family firm in Binghamton manufactured player pianos and organs, and Ed Link was therefore familiar with such components as leather bellows and reed switches. He was also a pilot, but dissatisfied with the amount of real flight training that was available, he decided to build a ground-based device to provide such training without the restrictions of weather and the availability of aircraft and flight instructors. His design had a pneumatic motion platform driven by inflatable bellows which provided pitch and roll cues. A vacuum motor similar to those used in player pianos rotated the platform, providing yaw cues. A generic replica cockpit with working instruments was mounted on the motion platform. When the cockpit was covered, pilots could practice flying by instruments in a safe environment. The motion platform gave the pilot cues as to real angular motion in pitch (nose up and down), roll (wing up or down) and yaw (nose left and right).[7]

Initially, aviation flight schools showed little interest in the "Link Trainer". Link also demonstrated his trainer to the U.S. Army Air Force (USAAF), but with no result. However, the situation changed in 1934 when the Army Air Force was given a government contract to fly the postal mail. This included having to fly in bad weather as well as good, for which the USAAF had not previously carried out much training. During the first weeks of the mail service, nearly a dozen Army pilots were killed. The Army Air Force hierarchy remembered Ed Link and his trainer. Link flew in to meet them at Newark Field in New Jersey, and they were impressed by his ability to arrive on a day with poor visibility, due to practice on his training device. The result was that the USAAF purchased six Link Trainers, and this can be said to mark the start of the world flight simulation industry.[7]

World War II (1939–1945)

Military Personnel Using Link Trainer, Pepperell Manufacturing Co., 1943
Military Personnel Using Link Trainer, Pepperell Manufacturing Co., 1943

The principal pilot trainer used during World War II was the Link Trainer. Some 10,000 were produced to train 500,000 new pilots from allied nations, many in the US and Canada because many pilots were trained in those countries before returning to Europe or the Pacific to fly combat missions.[7] Almost all US Army Air Force pilots were trained in a Link Trainer.[8]

A different type of World War II trainer was used for navigating at night by the stars. The Celestial Navigation Trainer of 1941 was 13.7 m (45 ft) high and capable of accommodating the navigation team of a bomber crew. It enabled sextants to be used for taking "star shots" from a projected display of the night sky.[7]

1945 to the 1960s

In 1954 United Airlines bought four flight simulators at a cost of $3 million from Curtiss-Wright that were similar to the earlier models, with the addition of visuals, sound and movement. This was the first of today's modern flight simulators for commercial aircraft.[9]

Today

The simulator manufacturers are consolidating and integrate vertically as training offers double-digit growth: CAE forecast 255,000 new airline pilots from 2017 to 2027 (70 a day), and 180,000 first officers evolving to captains. The largest manufacturer is Canadian CAE Inc. with a 70% market share and $2.8 billion annual revenues, manufacturing training devices for 70 years but moved into training in 2000 with multiple acquisitions. Now CAE makes more from training than from producing the simulators. Crawley-based L3 CTS entered the market in 2012 by acquiring Thales Training & Simulation's manufacturing plant near Gatwick Airport where it assembles up to 30 devices a year, then UK CTC training school in 2015, Aerosim in Sanford, Florida in 2016, and Portuguese academy G Air in October 2017.[10]

With a 20% market share, equipment still accounts for more than half of L3 CTS turnover but that could soon be reversed as it educates 1,600 commercial pilots each year, 7% of the 22,000 entering the profession annually, and aims for 10% in a fragmented market. The third largest is TRU Simulation + Training, created in 2014 when parent Textron Aviation merged its simulators with Mechtronix, OPINICUS and ProFlight, focusing on simulators and developing the first full-flight simulators for the 737 MAX and the 777X. The fourth is FlightSafety International, focused on general, business and regional aircraft. Airbus and Boeing have invested in their own training centres, aiming for higher margins than aircraft manufacturing like MRO, competing with their suppliers CAE and L3.[10]

In June 2018, there were 1,270 commercial airline simulators in service, up by 50 over a year: 85% FFSs and 15% FTDs. CAE supplied 56% of this installed base, L3 CTS 20% and FlightSafety International 10%, while CAE's training centres are the largest operator, with a 13% share. North America has 38% of the world's training devices, Asia-Pacific 25% and Europe 24%. Boeing types represent 45% of all simulated aircraft, followed by Airbus with 35%, then Embraer at 7%, Bombardier at 6% and ATR at 3%.[11]

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Antoinette (manufacturer)

Antoinette (manufacturer)

Antoinette was a French manufacturer of light petrol engines. Antoinette also became a pioneer-era builder of aeroplanes before World War I, most notably the record-breaking monoplanes flown by Hubert Latham and René Labouchère. Based in Puteaux, the Antoinette concern was in operation between 1903 and 1912. The company operated a flying school at Chalons for which it built one of the earliest flight simulators.

Link Trainer

Link Trainer

The term Link Trainer, also known as the "Blue box" and "Pilot Trainer" is commonly used to refer to a series of flight simulators produced between the early 1930s and early 1950s by Link Aviation Devices, founded and headed by Ed Link, based on technology he pioneered in 1929 at his family's business in Binghamton, New York. During World War II, they were used as a key pilot training aid by almost every combatant nation.

Edwin Albert Link

Edwin Albert Link

Edwin Albert Link was an American inventor, entrepreneur and pioneer in aviation, underwater archaeology, and submersibles. He invented the flight simulator, which was called the "Blue Box" or "Link Trainer". It was commercialized in 1929, starting a now multibillion-dollar industry. In total, he obtained more than 27 patents for aeronautics, navigation and oceanographic equipment.

Binghamton, New York

Binghamton, New York

Binghamton is a city in the U.S. state of New York, and serves as the county seat of Broome County. Surrounded by rolling hills, it lies in the state's Southern Tier region near the Pennsylvania border, in a bowl-shaped valley at the confluence of the Susquehanna and Chenango Rivers. Binghamton is the principal city and cultural center of the Binghamton metropolitan area, home to a quarter million people. The city's population, according to the 2020 census, is 47,969.

Bomber

Bomber

A bomber is a military combat aircraft designed to attack ground and naval targets by dropping air-to-ground weaponry, launching torpedoes, or deploying air-launched cruise missiles. The first use of bombs dropped from an aircraft occurred in the Italo-Turkish War, with the first major deployments coming in the First World War and Second World War by all major airforces causing devastating damage to cities, towns, and rural areas. The first purpose built bombers were the Italian Caproni Ca 30 and British Bristol T.B.8, both of 1913. Some bombers were decorated with nose art or victory markings.

United Airlines

United Airlines

United Airlines, Inc. is a major American airline headquartered at the Willis Tower in Chicago, Illinois. United operates a large domestic and international route network spanning cities large and small across the United States and all six inhabited continents. Measured by fleet size and the number of routes, it is the third-largest airline in the world after its merger with Continental Airlines in 2010.

Consolidation (business)

Consolidation (business)

In business, consolidation or amalgamation is the merger and acquisition of many smaller companies into a few much larger ones. In the context of financial accounting, consolidation refers to the aggregation of financial statements of a group company as consolidated financial statements. The taxation term of consolidation refers to the treatment of a group of companies and other entities as one entity for tax purposes. Under the Halsbury's Laws of England, amalgamation is defined as "a blending together of two or more undertakings into one undertaking, the shareholders of each blending company, becoming, substantially, the shareholders of the blended undertakings. There may be amalgamations, either by transfer of two or more undertakings to a new company or the transfer of one or more companies to an existing company".

Flight training

Flight training

Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills.

CAE Inc.

CAE Inc.

CAE Inc. is a Canadian manufacturer of simulation technologies, modelling technologies and training services to airlines, aircraft manufacturers, healthcare specialists, and defence customers. CAE was founded in 1947, and has manufacturing operations and training facilities in 35 countries. In 2017, the company's annual revenue was CAD $2.705 billion.

Market share

Market share

Market share is the percentage of the total revenue or sales in a market that a company's business makes up. For example, if there are 50,000 units sold per year in a given industry, a company whose sales were 5,000 of those units would have a 10 percent share in that market.

L3 Commercial Training Solutions

L3 Commercial Training Solutions

L3 Commercial Training Solutions is a flight training provider and manufacturer of civil flight simulators based in Crawley, England. It is a subsidiary of American simulator manufacturer L-3 Link Simulation & Training, itself part of L3 Technologies, and was formed as L-3 Link Simulation & Training UK in 2012, when L3 acquired the civil fixed-wing simulation division of Thales Training & Simulation (TTS).

Thales Training & Simulation

Thales Training & Simulation

Thales Training & Simulation Ltd. is a multinational company which manufactures simulators, including full flight simulators and military simulators, and provides related training and support services. It is a wholly owned subsidiary of the Thales Group.

Applications

Pilot training

Interior of a flight simulator in Estonia, for a Piper Seneca PA-34(view as a 360° interactive panorama)
Interior of a flight simulator in Estonia, for a Piper Seneca PA-34
(view as a 360° interactive panorama)
Cockpit of a twinjet flight simulator
Cockpit of a twinjet flight simulator

Most flight simulators are used primarily for flight training. The simplest simulators are used to practice basic cockpit procedures, such as processing emergency checklists, and for cockpit familiarization. They are also used for instrument flight training,[12][13] for which the outside view is less important. Certain aircraft systems may or may not be simulated, and the aerodynamic model is usually extremely generic if present at all.[14] Depending on the level of certification, instruments that would have moving indicators in a real aircraft may be implemented with a display. With more advanced displays, cockpit representation and motion systems, flight simulators can be used to credit different amount of flight hours towards a pilot license.[15]

Specific classes of simulators are also used for training other than obtaining initial license such as instrument rating revalidation, or most commonly[16] obtaining type rating for specific kind of aircraft.

Other uses

During the aircraft design process, flight simulators can be used instead of performing some flight tests. Such "engineering flight simulators" can provide a fast way to find errors, reducing both the risks and the cost of development.[17] Additionally, this allows use of extra measurement equipment that might be too large or otherwise impractical to include during onboard a real aircraft. Throughout different phases of the design process, different engineering simulators with various level of complexity are used.[18]: 13 

Flight simulators may include training tasks for crew other than pilots. Examples include gunners on a military aircraft [19] or hoist operators.[20] Separate simulators have also been used for tasks related to flight, like evacuating the aircraft in case of a crash in water.[21] With high complexity of many systems composing contemporary aircraft, aircraft maintenance simulators are increasingly popular.[22][23]

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Twinjet

Twinjet

A twinjet or twin-engine jet is a jet aircraft powered by two engines. A twinjet is able to fly well enough to land with a single working engine, making it safer than a single-engine aircraft in the event of failure of an engine. Fuel efficiency of a twinjet is better than that of aircraft with more engines. These considerations have led to the widespread use of aircraft of all types with twin engines, including airliners, fixed-wing military aircraft, and others.

Flight training

Flight training

Flight training is a course of study used when learning to pilot an aircraft. The overall purpose of primary and intermediate flight training is the acquisition and honing of basic airmanship skills.

Instrument flight rules

Instrument flight rules

In aviation, instrument flight rules (IFR) is one of two sets of regulations governing all aspects of civil aviation aircraft operations; the other is visual flight rules (VFR).

Instrument rating

Instrument rating

Instrument rating refers to the qualifications that a pilot must have in order to fly under instrument flight rules (IFR). It requires specific training and instruction beyond what is required for a private pilot certificate or commercial pilot certificate, including rules and procedures specific to instrument flying, additional instruction in meteorology, and more intensive training in flight solely by reference to instruments.

Type rating

Type rating

A type rating is an authorization entered on or associated with a pilot licence and forming part thereof, stating pilot's privileges or limitations pertaining to certain aircraft type. Such qualification requires additional training beyond the scope of the initial license and aircraft class training.

Aircraft design process

Aircraft design process

The aircraft design process is a loosely defined method used to balance many competing and demanding requirements to produce an aircraft that is strong, lightweight, economical and can carry an adequate payload while being sufficiently reliable to safely fly for the design life of the aircraft. Similar to, but more exacting than, the usual engineering design process, the technique is highly iterative, involving high level configuration tradeoffs, a mixture of analysis and testing and the detailed examination of the adequacy of every part of the structure. For some types of aircraft, the design process is regulated by civil airworthiness authorities.

Aircraft maintenance

Aircraft maintenance

Aircraft maintenance is the performance of tasks required to ensure the continuing airworthiness of an aircraft or aircraft part, including overhaul, inspection, replacement, defect rectification, and the embodiment of modifications, compliance with airworthiness directives and repair.

Qualification and approval

Procedure

Before September 2018,[24] when a manufacturer wished to have an ATD model approved, a document that contains the specifications for the model line and that proves compliance with the appropriate regulations is submitted to the FAA. Once this document, called a Qualification Approval Guide (QAG), has been approved, all future devices conforming to the QAG are automatically approved and individual evaluation is neither required nor available.[25]

The actual procedure accepted by all CAAs (Civil Aviation Authorities) around the world is to propose 30 days prior qualification date (40 days for CAAC) a MQTG document (Master Qualification Test Guide), which is proper to a unique simulator device and will live along the device itself, containing objective, and functional and subjective tests to demonstrate the representativeness of the simulator compare to the airplane. The results will be compared to Flight Test Data provided by aircraft OEMs or from test campaign ordered by simulator OEMs or also can be compared by POM (Proof Of Match) data provided by aircraft OEMs development simulators. Some of the QTGs will be rerun during the year to prove during continuous qualification that the simulator is still in the tolerances approved by the CAA.[26][12][27]

US Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) categories

Aviation Training Device (ATD)[28]
  • FAA Basic ATD (BATD) – Provides an adequate training platform and design for both procedural and operational performance tasks specific to the ground and flight training requirements for Private Pilot Certificate and instrument rating per Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
  • FAA Advanced ATD (AATD) – Provides an adequate training platform for both procedural and operational performance tasks specific to the ground and flight training requirements for Private Pilot Certificate, instrument rating, Commercial Pilot Certificate, and Airline Transport Pilot (ATP) Certificate, and Flight Instructor Certificate.
Flight Training Devices (FTD)[29]
  • FAA FTD Level 4 – Similar to a Cockpit Procedures Trainer (CPT). This level does not require an aerodynamic model, but accurate systems modeling is required.
  • FAA FTD Level 5 – Aerodynamic programming and systems modeling is required, but it may represent a family of aircraft rather than only one specific model.
  • FAA FTD Level 6 – Aircraft-model-specific aerodynamic programming, control feel, and physical cockpit are required.
  • FAA FTD Level 7 – Model specific. All applicable aerodynamics, flight controls, and systems must be modeled. A vibration system must be supplied. This is the first level to require a visual system.
Full Flight Simulators (FFS)[30]
  • FAA FFS Level A – A motion system is required with at least three degrees of freedom. Airplanes only.
  • FAA FFS Level B – Requires three axis motion and a higher-fidelity aerodynamic model than does Level A. The lowest level of helicopter flight simulator.
  • FAA FFS Level C – Requires a motion platform with all six degrees of freedom. Also lower transport delay (latency) over levels A & B. The visual system must have an outside-world horizontal field of view of at least 75 degrees for each pilot.
  • FAA FFS Level D – The highest level of FFS qualification currently available. Requirements are for Level C with additions. The motion platform must have all six degrees of freedom, and the visual system must have an outside-world horizontal field of view of at least 150 degrees, with a collimated (distant focus) display. Realistic sounds in the cockpit are required, as well as a number of special motion and visual effects.

European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA, ex JAA) categories

These definitions apply to both airplanes[3] and helicopters[31] unless specified otherwise. Training devices briefly compared below are all different subclasses of Flight simulation training device (FSTD).

Basic instrument training device (BITD) airplanes only : A basic student station for instrument flight procedures; can use spring loaded flight controls, and instruments displayed on a screen

Flight Navigation and Procedures Trainer (FNPT) : Representation of cockpit with all equipment and software to replicate function of aircraft systems

  • EASA FNPT Level I : Fully enclosed real-scale cockpit, control forces and travel representative of the aircraft, aerodynamic model taking into account changes to airspeed, loading and other factors
  • EASA FNPT Level II : Model handling of aircraft on ground and in ground effect, effects of icing, visual system including different ambient lighting conditions (i.e. day, night, dusk)
  • EASA FNPT Level III helicopters only : Wider field of view and means of quickly testing correct operation of hardware and software
  • MCC : Additional requirements for FNPT Level II and III to be used for multi-crew cooperation training, for example which instruments need to be doubled for each crew member[32]

Flight Training Devices (FTD)

  • EASA FTD Level 1 : May lack a visual system, compared to FNPT the aircraft systems must operate correctly based only on pilot inputs without requiring instructor actions
  • EASA FTD Level 2 : Visual system with different conditions, cockpit must include other crew stations, controls must replicate movement dynamics
  • EASA FTD Level 3 helicopter only : Model data must be based on validation flights - cannot be generic aerodynamical model, wider field of view

Full Flight Simulators (FFS)

  • EASA FFS Level A : Motion system with 3 degrees of freedom (pitch, roll, heave)
  • EASA FFS Level B : Motion system with all 6 degrees of freedom, modelling ground handling
  • EASA FFS Level C : Simulate different runway conditions, icing, more detailed aerodynamic model
  • EASA FFS Level D : Characteristic vibrations that can be felt in the cockpit, realistic noise levels

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Full flight simulator

Full flight simulator

Full flight simulator (FFS) is a term used by national (civil) aviation authorities (NAA) for a high technical level of flight simulator. Such authorities include the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) in the United States and the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA).

Boeing 737

Boeing 737

The Boeing 737 is a narrow-body aircraft produced by Boeing at its Renton Factory in Washington. Developed to supplement the Boeing 727 on short and thin routes, the twinjet retains the 707 fuselage width and six abreast seating with two underwing turbofans. Envisioned in 1964, the initial 737-100 made its first flight in April 1967 and entered service in February 1968 with Lufthansa. The lengthened 737-200 entered service in April 1968, and evolved through four generations, offering several variants for 85 to 215 passengers.

Ground effect (aerodynamics)

Ground effect (aerodynamics)

For fixed-wing aircraft, ground effect is the reduced aerodynamic drag that an aircraft's wings generate when they are close to a fixed surface. Reduced drag when in ground effect during takeoff can cause the aircraft to "float" while below the recommended climb speed. The pilot can then fly just above the runway while the aircraft accelerates in ground effect until a safe climb speed is reached.

Multi-crew cooperation

Multi-crew cooperation

Multi-crew cooperation (MCC) is a training course that allows aircraft pilots to fly multi-crew aircraft. It is a requirement before a pilot may undertake a multi-crew aircraft type rating. It is also required for the issuance of an airline transport pilot license (ATPL) or a multi-crew pilot license (MPL).

Technology

Simulator structure

Flight simulator block diagram
Flight simulator block diagram

Flight simulators are an example of a human-in-the-loop system, in which interaction with a human user is constantly happening. From perspective of the device, the inputs are primary flight controls, instrument panel buttons and switches and the instructor's station, if present. Based on these, the internal state is updated, and equations of motion solved for the new time step.[33] The new state of the simulated aircraft is shown to the user through visual, auditory, motion and touch channels.

To simulate cooperative tasks, the simulator can be suited for multiple users, as is the case with multi-crew cooperation simulators. Alternatively, more simulators can be connected, what is known as "parallel simulation" or "distributed simulation".[34] As military aircraft often need to cooperate with other craft or military personnel, wargames are a common use for distributed simulation. Because of that, numerous standards for distributed simulation including aircraft have been developed with military organisations. Some examples include SIMNET, DIS and HLA .

Simulation models

The central element of simulation model are the equations of motion for the aircraft.[33] As the aircraft moves through atmosphere it can exhibit both translational and rotational degrees of freedom. To achieve perception of fluent movement, these equations are solved 50 or 60 times per second.[18]: 16  The forces for motion are calculated from aerodynamical models, which in turn depend on state of control surfaces, driven by specific systems, with their avionics, etc. As is the case with modelling, depending on the required level of realism, there are different levels of detail, with some sub-models omitted in simpler simulators.

If a human user is part of the simulator, which might not be the case for some engineering simulators, there is a need to perform the simulation in real-time. Low refresh rates not only reduce realism of simulation, but they have also been linked with increase in simulator sickness.[35] The regulations place a limit on maximum latency between pilot input and aircraft reaction. Because of that, tradeoffs are made to reach the required level of realism with a lower computational cost. Flight simulators typically don't include full computational fluid dynamics models for forces or weather, but use databases of prepared results from calculations and data acquired in real flights. As an example, instead of simulating flow over the wings, lift coefficient may be defined in terms of motion parameters like angle of attack.[18]: 17 

While different models need to exchange data, most often they can be separated into a modular architecture, for better organisation and ease of development.[36][37] Typically, gear model for ground handling would be separate input to the main equations of motion. Each engine and avionics instrument is also a self-contained system with well-defined inputs and outputs.

Instruments

All classes of FSTD require some form of replicating the cockpit. As they are the primary means of interaction between the pilot and the aircraft special importance is assigned to cockpit controls. To achieve good transfer of skills, there are very specific requirements in the flight simulator regulations[12] that determine how closely they must match the real aircraft. These requirements in case of full flight simulators are so detailed, that it may be cost-effective to use the real part certified to fly, rather than manufacture a dedicated replica.[18]: 18  Lower classes of simulators may use springs to mimic forces felt when moving the controls. When there is a need to better replicate the control forces or dynamic response, many simulators are equipped with actively driven force feedback systems. Vibration actuators may also be included, either due to helicopter simulation requirements, or for aircraft equipped with a stick shaker.

Simulator with primary flight instruments replicated with flat displays
Simulator with primary flight instruments replicated with flat displays

Another form of tactile input from the pilot are instruments located on the panels in the cockpit. As they are used to interact with various aircraft systems, just that may be sufficient for some forms of procedure training. Displaying them on a screen is sufficient for the most basic BITD simulators[3] and amateur flight simulation, however most classes of certified simulators need all buttons, switches and other inputs to be operated in the same way as in the aircraft cockpit. The necessity for a physical copy of a cockpit contributes to the cost of simulator construction, and ties the hardware to a specific aircraft type. Because of these reasons, there is ongoing research on interactions in virtual reality, however lack of tactile feedback negatively affects users' performance when using this technology.[38][39]

Visual system

A spherical display with multiple projectors visible above the cockpit
A spherical display with multiple projectors visible above the cockpit
A wide angle cyllindrical display
A wide angle cyllindrical display

Outside view from the aircraft is an important cue for flying the aircraft, and is the primary means of navigation for visual flight rules operation.[40] One of the primary characteristics of a visual system is the field of view. Depending on the simulator type it may be sufficient to provide only a view forward using a flat display. However, some types of craft, e.g. fighter aircraft, require a very large field of view, preferably almost full sphere, due to the manoeuvres that are performed during air combat.[41] Similarly, since helicopters can perform hover flight in any direction, some classes of helicopter flight simulators require even 180 degrees of horizontal field of view.[42]

There are many parameters in visual system design. For a narrow field of view, a single display may be sufficient, however typically multiple projectors are required. This arrangement needs additional calibration, both in terms of distortion from not projecting on a flat surface, as well as brightness in regions with overlapping projections.[43] There are also different shapes of screens used, including cylindrical,[44] spherical[43] or ellipsoidal. The image can be projected on the viewing side of the projection screen, or alternatively "back-projection" onto a translucent screen.[45] Because the screen is much closer than objects outside aircraft, for simulators with multiple pilots, there are special collimated displays that eliminate the parallax effect between the pilots' point of view.[46]

An alternative to large-scale displays are virtual reality simulators using a head-mounted display. This approach allows for a complete field of view, and makes the simulator size considerably smaller. There are examples of use in research,[37] as well as certified FSTD[47]

Real-time computer graphics visualisation of virtual worlds makes some aspects of flight simulator visual systems very similar to game engines, sharing some techniques like different levels of details or libraries like OpenGL.[18]: 343 

Motion system

Initially, the motion systems used separate axes of movement, similar to a gimbal. After the invention of Stewart platform[48] simultaneous operation of all actuators became the preferred choice, with some FFS regulations specifically requiring "synergistic" 6 degrees of freedom motion.[49] In contrast to real aircraft, the simulated motion system has a limited range in which it is able to move. That especially affects the ability to simulate sustained accelerations, and requires a separate model to approximate the cues to the human vestibular system within the given constraints.[18]: 451 

Motion system is a major contributor to overall simulator cost[18]: 423 , but assessments of skill transfer based on training on a simulator and leading to handling an actual aircraft are difficult to make, particularly where motion cues are concerned. Large samples of pilot opinion are required and many subjective opinions tend to be aired, particularly by pilots not used to making objective assessments and responding to a structured test schedule. For many years, it was believed that 6 DOF motion-based simulation gave the pilot closer fidelity to flight control operations and aircraft responses to control inputs and external forces and gave a better training outcome for students than non-motion-based simulation. This is described as "handling fidelity", which can be assessed by test flight standards such as the numerical Cooper-Harper rating scale for handling qualities. Recent scientific studies have shown that the use of technology such as vibration or dynamic seats within flight simulators can be equally effective in the delivery of training as large and expensive 6-DOF FFS devices.[50][51]

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Human-in-the-loop

Human-in-the-loop

Human-in-the-loop or HITL is used in multiple contexts. It can be defined as a model requiring human interaction. HITL is associated with modeling and simulation (M&S) in the live, virtual, and constructive taxonomy. HITL along with the related human-on-the-loop are also used in relation to lethal autonomous weapons. Further, HITL is used in the context of machine learning.

Multi-crew cooperation

Multi-crew cooperation

Multi-crew cooperation (MCC) is a training course that allows aircraft pilots to fly multi-crew aircraft. It is a requirement before a pilot may undertake a multi-crew aircraft type rating. It is also required for the issuance of an airline transport pilot license (ATPL) or a multi-crew pilot license (MPL).

SIMNET

SIMNET

SIMNET was a wide area network with vehicle simulators and displays for real-time distributed combat simulation: tanks, helicopters and airplanes in a virtual battlefield. SIMNET was developed for and used by the United States military. SIMNET development began in the mid-1980s, was fielded starting in 1987, and was used for training until successor programs came online well into the 1990s.

Distributed Interactive Simulation

Distributed Interactive Simulation

Distributed Interactive Simulation (DIS) is an IEEE standard for conducting real-time platform-level wargaming across multiple host computers and is used worldwide, especially by military organizations but also by other agencies such as those involved in space exploration and medicine.

High Level Architecture

High Level Architecture

The High Level Architecture (HLA) is a standard for distributed simulation, used when building a simulation for a larger purpose by combining (federating) several simulations. The standard was developed in the 1990s under the leadership of the US Department of Defense and was later transitioned to become an open international IEEE standard. It is a recommended standard within NATO through STANAG 4603. Today the HLA is used in a number of domains including defense and security and civilian applications.

Simulation

Simulation

A simulation is the imitation of the operation of a real-world process or system over time. Simulations require the use of models; the model represents the key characteristics or behaviors of the selected system or process, whereas the simulation represents the evolution of the model over time. Often, computers are used to execute the simulation.

Six degrees of freedom

Six degrees of freedom

Six degrees of freedom (6DOF) refers to the six mechanical degrees of freedom of movement of a rigid body in three-dimensional space. Specifically, the body is free to change position as forward/backward (surge), up/down (heave), left/right (sway) translation in three perpendicular axes, combined with changes in orientation through rotation about three perpendicular axes, often termed yaw, pitch, and roll.

Simulator sickness

Simulator sickness

Simulator sickness is a subset of motion sickness that is typically experienced while playing video games from first-person perspective. It was discovered in the context of aircraft pilots who undergo training for extended periods of time in flight simulators. Due to the spatial limitations imposed on these simulators, perceived discrepancies between the motion of the simulator and that of the vehicle can occur and lead to simulator sickness. It is similar to motion sickness in many ways, but occurs in simulated environments and can be induced without actual motion. Symptoms of simulator sickness include discomfort, apathy, drowsiness, disorientation, fatigue, and nausea. These symptoms can reduce the effectiveness of simulators in flight training and result in systematic consequences such as decreased simulator use, compromised training, ground safety, and flight safety. Pilots are less likely to want to repeat the experience in a simulator if they have suffered from simulator sickness and hence can reduce the number of potential users. It can also compromise training in two safety-critical ways:It can distract the pilot during training sessions. It can cause the pilot to adopt certain counterproductive behaviors to prevent symptoms from occurring.

Latency (engineering)

Latency (engineering)

Latency, from a general point of view, is a time delay between the cause and the effect of some physical change in the system being observed. Lag, as it is known in gaming circles, refers to the latency between the input to a simulation and the visual or auditory response, often occurring because of network delay in online games.

Computational fluid dynamics

Computational fluid dynamics

Computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is a branch of fluid mechanics that uses numerical analysis and data structures to analyze and solve problems that involve fluid flows. Computers are used to perform the calculations required to simulate the free-stream flow of the fluid, and the interaction of the fluid with surfaces defined by boundary conditions. With high-speed supercomputers, better solutions can be achieved, and are often required to solve the largest and most complex problems. Ongoing research yields software that improves the accuracy and speed of complex simulation scenarios such as transonic or turbulent flows. Initial validation of such software is typically performed using experimental apparatus such as wind tunnels. In addition, previously performed analytical or empirical analysis of a particular problem can be used for comparison. A final validation is often performed using full-scale testing, such as flight tests.

Lift coefficient

Lift coefficient

In fluid dynamics, the lift coefficient is a dimensionless quantity that relates the lift generated by a lifting body to the fluid density around the body, the fluid velocity and an associated reference area. A lifting body is a foil or a complete foil-bearing body such as a fixed-wing aircraft. CL is a function of the angle of the body to the flow, its Reynolds number and its Mach number. The section lift coefficient cl refers to the dynamic lift characteristics of a two-dimensional foil section, with the reference area replaced by the foil chord.

Angle of attack

Angle of attack

In fluid dynamics, angle of attack is the angle between a reference line on a body and the vector representing the relative motion between the body and the fluid through which it is moving. Angle of attack is the angle between the body's reference line and the oncoming flow. This article focuses on the most common application, the angle of attack of a wing or airfoil moving through air.

Modern high-end flight simulators

Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) at NASA/Ames

The largest flight simulator in the world is the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS) at NASA Ames Research Center, south of San Francisco. This has a very large-throw motion system with 60 feet (+/- 30 ft) of vertical movement (heave). The heave system supports a horizontal beam on which are mounted 40 ft rails, allowing lateral movement of a simulator cab of +/- 20 feet. A conventional 6-degree of freedom hexapod platform is mounted on the 40 ft beam, and an interchangeable cabin is mounted on the platform. This design permits quick switching of different aircraft cabins. Simulations have ranged from blimps, commercial and military aircraft to the Space Shuttle. In the case of the Space Shuttle, the large Vertical Motion Simulator was used to investigate a longitudinal pilot-induced oscillation (PIO) that occurred on an early Shuttle flight just before landing. After identification of the problem on the VMS, it was used to try different longitudinal control algorithms and recommend the best for use in the Shuttle program.[52]

Disorientation training

AMST Systemtechnik GmbH (AMST) of Austria and Environmental Tectonics Corporation (ETC) of Philadelphia, US, manufacture a range of simulators for disorientation training, that have full freedom in yaw. The most complex of these devices is the Desdemona simulator at the TNO Research Institute in The Netherlands, manufactured by AMST. This large simulator has a gimballed cockpit mounted on a framework which adds vertical motion. The framework is mounted on rails attached to a rotating platform. The rails allow the simulator cab to be positioned at different radii from the centre of rotation and this gives a sustained G capability up to about 3.5.[53][54]

Amateur and video game flight simulation

Discover more about Amateur and video game flight simulation related topics

Combat flight simulation game

Combat flight simulation game

Combat flight simulators are vehicle simulation games, amateur flight simulation computer programs used to simulate military aircraft and their operations. These are distinct from dedicated flight simulators used for professional pilot and military flight training which consist of realistic physical recreations of the actual aircraft cockpit, often with a full-motion platform.

Simulation video game

Simulation video game

Simulation video games are a diverse super-category of video games, generally designed to closely simulate real world activities. A simulation game attempts to copy various activities from real life in the form of a game for various purposes such as training, analysis, prediction, or entertainment. Usually there are no strictly defined goals in the game, and the player is allowed to control a character or environment freely. Well-known examples are war games, business games, and role play simulation. From three basic types of strategic, planning, and learning exercises: games, simulations, and case studies, a number of hybrids may be considered, including simulation games that are used as case studies. Comparisons of the merits of simulation games versus other teaching techniques have been carried out by many researchers and a number of comprehensive reviews have been published.

Space flight simulation game

Space flight simulation game

A space flight simulation is a genre of flight simulator video games that lets players experience space flight to varying degrees of realism. Common mechanics include space exploration, space trade and space combat.

Source: "Flight simulator", Wikipedia, Wikimedia Foundation, (2023, January 25th), https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Flight_simulator.

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See also
References

Notes

  1. ^ Federal Aviation Administration (25 April 2013). "FAR 121 Subpart N—Training Program". Retrieved 28 April 2013.
  2. ^ "AC 120-40 Airplane Simulator and Visual System Evaluation" (PDF). Federal Aviation Administration.
  3. ^ a b c CS FSTD(A).200: Terminology
  4. ^ "Definition of flight simulator from the Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary & Thesaurus". Cambridge University Press.
  5. ^ Bonnier Corporation (January 1919). "Dry Shooting for Airplane Gunners". Popular Science Monthly. Bonnier Corporation. pp. 13–14.
  6. ^ Fly Away Simulation (12 July 2010). "Flight Simulator Technology Through the Years". Archived from the original on 12 October 2011. Retrieved 20 April 2011.
  7. ^ a b c d "ASME Landmarks: The Link Flight Trainer." Archived 17 December 2011 at the Wayback Machine American Society of Mechanical Engineers. Retrieved: 18 December 2011.
  8. ^ "U.S. Air Force Fact Sheet: Link Trainer." National Museum of the United States Air Force. Retrieved: 12 October 2016.
  9. ^ Hearst Magazines (September 1954). "Airline Pilots Fly Anywhere in the world – Without Leaving the Ground". Popular Mechanics. Hearst Magazines. p. 87.
  10. ^ a b Murdo Morrison (25 June 2018). "Civil simulator manufacturer strategies compared". FlightGlobal.
  11. ^ Antoine Fafard (26 June 2018). "Analysis: Civil simulator fleet nears 1,300 mark". FlightGlobal.
  12. ^ a b c EASA CS-FSTD(A) Issue 2
  13. ^ Leonard Ross; Paul Slotten; Louise Yeazel (1990). "Pilot's Evaluation of the Usefulness of Full Mission IFR Simulator Flights for General Aviation Pilot Training". Journal of Aviation/Aerospace Education & Research. 1 (2). doi:10.15394/JAAER.1990.1024. ISSN 1065-1136. Wikidata Q112800809.
  14. ^ "Navy CPT". www.navair.navy.mil. U.S. Navy. Archived from the original on 8 August 2014. Retrieved 4 August 2014.
  15. ^ "14 CFR Appendix D to Part 141 4.(c)".
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  24. ^ FAA AC 61-136B
  25. ^ FAA AC 61-136A
  26. ^ FAA CFR Part 60
  27. ^ CAAC CCAR-60
  28. ^ AC-61-136A Appendix 1 and 2
  29. ^ 14 CFR Part 60, Appendices B and D
  30. ^ 14 CFR Part 60, Appendices A and C
  31. ^ CS FSTD(H).200: Terminology
  32. ^ Appendix 1 to CS FSTD(H).300, Appendix 1 to CS FSTD(A).300
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  39. ^ Markus Tatzgern; Cristoph Birgmann (March 2021). "Exploring Input Approximations for Control Panels in Virtual Reality". Virtual Reality and 3D User Interfaces: 1–9. doi:10.1109/VR50410.2021.00092. Wikidata Q112826551.
  40. ^ Section 91.155 14 CFR Part 91 - General Operating and Flight Rules - FAA
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  50. ^ Andrea L. Sparko; Judith Bürki-Cohen; Tiauw H. Go (2010). Transfer of Training from a Full-Flight Simulator vs. a High Level Flight Training Device with a Dynamic Seat. AIAA Modeling and Simulation Technologies Conference. doi:10.2514/6.2010-8218.
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Bibliography

  • Kelly, Lloyd L. as told to Robert B. Parke. The Pilot Maker. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1979, First edition 1970. ISBN 0-448-02226-5.
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