Aerosoft Flight Simulator
The Aerosoft Flight Simulator (AFS) is a single seat part-task trainer which, rather than trying to replicate the cockpit of a specific aircraft type provides a range of generic aircraft. The flying and ancillary controls are representative of those found in most General Aviation (GA) aircraft; However, the flight models of the aircraft used are rigorously simulated
The AFS uses PC based COTS technology for the: flight modelling computer; visual system and the instructor station. The instrument displays are generated by computer graphics onto a Cathode Ray Tube (CRT) display, allowing different display formats to be generated for different aircraft types. A second CRT displays the external visual environment, allowing Visual Flight Rules (VFR) and Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) to be simulated.
The AFS is enclosed in a rectangular aluminium shell, is fixed-base with no motion system, and makes no attempt to emulate the exterior of an aircraft.
Fan circulated air helps to improve the enclosed ‘cockpit’ environment. The pilot-controls consist of a conventional control column and rudder pedals, with a spring trim of the elevator control and toe brakes on the rudder pedals. Engine and avionics ancillary controls are mounted on a console to the right of the pilot’s seat.
The computer systems comprise of three PCs, connected using Ethernet, to power a flight dynamic model and instrument display, a visual display and an instructor station. Computer graphics are used to provide a SVGA display of the aircraft instruments, which is updated by the flight model computer and tailored to the model used.
The AFS provides a capability for pilot training and for experiments requiring manipulation of aircraft systems or the visual environment. Data can be recorded automatically and retrieved for analysis later.
The AFS provides the following flight dynamic models:
- Piper Warrior (PA28)
- Cessna 172
- Piper Twin Comanche (PA30)
- Boeing 747-200 with Pratt and Whitney engines
- Cranfield A1 Aerobatic aircraft
Each aircraft simulation has been validated using existing aircraft flight data and extensive pilot assessment. High quality simulation has been achieved by the careful interfacing of aircraft controls with the flight model computer. The full equations of motion are calculated at 25 Hz.
The trainer correctly models aircraft flight dynamics including roll-yaw coupling, the effects of gear and flaps, stalling, variation of control effectiveness with speed, ground handling, asymmetric engine effects and trim changes.
The engine model simulates the full engine propeller characteristics and the effects of altitude, throttle, pitch and mixture settings. Flight models with jet engines and turbo-charger engines are also available.
The ‘glass cockpit’ located in front of the pilot displays the full range of instruments and avionics for the selected aircraft. The glass cockpit is the key to providing the correct instrument fit for the chosen aircraft. All instruments are updated 25 Hz.
The AFS has a fully integrated navigation system. HIS, RMI, ILS, VOR and DME avionics are displayed for the selected aircraft model. The system provides all UK navigation beacons (over 250) and all UK civil runways. The navigation database also defines runway width, length, altitude and QDM. Databases for other areas of the world are available.
The AFS has been used for student teaching and for student projects. For example, pilot performance can be measured objectively by recording deviation from flight path during an approach. Thus, different instructional techniques can be evaluated. For training purposes, the simulator can be used to display additional cues such as wind vectors or drift vectors, to enhance pilot’s situational awareness and learning. These cues can then be gradually reduced so that the student pilot then learns to cope without such additional cues.
Past student projects have also included the evaluation of various decision making training programmes, where students are asked to plan and fly a specific route, where they encounter a series of situations that require decisions to be made. For example, bad weather may be encountered or technical failures initiated, requiring remedial action by the pilot. The simulator may also be used to study pilot workload, by increasing the complexity of the task undertaken, again by varying the weather or initiating technical failures.