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Flight Simulators

Flight SimulatorA flight simulator is a system that tries to copy, or simulate, the experience of flying an aircraft. It is meant to be as realistic as possible. The different types of flight simulator range from computer based games up to full-size cockpit replicas mounted on hydraulic (or electromechanical) actuators, controlled by state of the art computer technology.

History of Flight Simulators

A number of electro-mechanical devices were tried during World War I and thereafter. The best-known was the Link Trainer invented by Edwin Link in Binghamton, New York and made available in 1929. This had a pneumatic motion platform driven by bellows giving pitch, roll and yaw, on which a replica generic cockpit was mounted. It was designed for the teaching of instrument (cloud) flying in a less hazardous and less expensive environment than the aircraft. The US Army Air Force purchased four Link Trainers in 1934 after a series of fatal accidents in instrument flight and the world flight simulation industry was born.

Types of Flight Simulators

Various categories of flight simulators and flight training devices are used for pilot training. These vary from relatively simple Part-Task Trainers (PTTs) that cover one or more aircraft systems, Cockpit Procedures Trainers (CPT) for practicing drills and checks, to Full Flight Simulators (FFS). The higher levels of Full Flight Simulators have motion platforms capable of moving in all six degrees-of-freedom. They also have wide-angle high-fidelity visual systems for displaying the outside world to the pilots under training. Most simulators have Instructor Operating Stations (IOS). At the IOS, an instructor can quickly create any normal and abnormal condition in the simulated aircraft or in the simulated external environment. This can range from engine fires, malfunctioning landing gear, electrical faults, storms, downbursts, lightning, oncoming aircraft, slippery runways, navigational system failures and countless other problems.

Flight simulators are an essential element in individual pilot as well as flight crew training. They save time, money and lives.

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