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Real-Feel Flight Simulator

Put a flight simulator on a plane
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Flight simulators are useful tools, enabling pilots to be trained and evaluated in a safe environment. However, during a bout of recent insomnia, I watched a couple of those air-crash disaster documentaries. It became obvious to me that a garden-variety simulator, with the hydraulic jacks and whatnot, may be able to provide a realistic feeling when the "aircraft" is mooching about in a sedate manner. They cannot do a convincing facsimile of stalling at 30,000ft and plummeting ground-ward while hurling everyone around with spiraling g forces.

When I did training on light aircraft, there was no substitute for getting out of a nasty stall/spin/whatever, than for a competent pilot to take you up, CREATE the conditions and then for you to recognize and the try and solve the problem.

This might be a touch expensive to do in an A380. So, take a normal simulator and mount it just behind the cockpit of a much smaller, more robust aircraft with superior aerobatic performance. Then, wire up the simulator to the physical aircraft controls with a computer interface. The interface modifies the control inputs from the simulator to achieve the results that would be seen on the aircraft that is being simulated. Chiefly, you would slow down the roll/pitch/climb rate, perhaps the engines would spool up slower to simulate massive ones... whatever, it should be possible to make a small jet behave like a large one.

In the real cockpit, you've got a couple of pilots with master controls and access to the full flight envelope who can save the aircraft from the incompetent fool in the simulator.

When pilots train in this simulator, they get all the real sensations and g-forces, perhaps real depressurization etc. It should provide an ideal addition to the end of training.

bs0u0155, Jul 03 2013

Total In-Flight Simulator http://en.wikipedia...IFS_lifting_off.jpg
Convair did this many years ago. [Freefall, Jul 03 2013]

Kinda like this http://en.wikipedia...e_Training_Aircraft
The Space Shuttle's landing envelope wrapped inside a Grumman Gulfstream - after a few mods [lurch, Jul 03 2013]

[link]






       Baked by Convair in 1970 as a modification of a 1955 C-131. See link.
Freefall, Jul 03 2013
  

       This is an excellent idea!
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 03 2013
  

       I'll agree that both those links are close, but not quite what I'm saying here. Those are effectively "model" aircraft. What I'm describing is an industry standard electronic simulator with snazzy computer interface. The advantage being that it should be more capable, for example: perhaps the rudder failure could be simulated, perhaps the trim controls fail to respond properly.... all these things can be fed in directly by an instructor. Also, you can simulate night during the day, fog during fine weather etc. All the benefits of an electronic simulator with all the sensation of a real aircraft.   

       Additionally, you should be able to swap the simulator at will, so your aircraft can be a Boeing 777 one week and an A380 the next.
bs0u0155, Jul 03 2013
  

       // for example: perhaps the rudder failure could be simulated, perhaps the trim controls fail to respond properly.... all these things can be fed in directly by an instructor.// I would imagine that those things are possible in the Gulfstream shuttle simulator.   

       // you should be able to swap the simulator at will,// But the instrument configurations would be all wrong.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 03 2013
  

       //who can save the aircraft from the incompetent fool in the simulator.   

       Ahh, taking all the fun out of it..boo!
not_morrison_rm, Jul 03 2013
  

       You still won't be be able to simulate a lot of conditions. Since the handling of the plane will be different than the simulated plane, it won't be able to produce all the same responses.   

       This also has issues with response time in a stall, dive, or spin situation, with the override pilots not realizing or being able to react in time.
MechE, Jul 03 2013
  

       //You still won't be be able to simulate a lot of conditions. Since the handling of the plane will be different than the simulated plane, it won't be able to produce all the same responses.//   

       I think that point was addressed in the first part of the third paragraph of the idea. As long as the simulator plane is nippy, it will be able to simulate the actions of a larger, more lumbering plane. In any event, the Gulfstream simulator seems to work fine as a shuttle, and I am pretty sure it could handle all the behaviour of a large passenger jet.   

       As for the override pilots not reacting in time - the simulator means that a landing approach can be carried out at 10,000ft, giving enough time for a competent pilot in a nippy aircraft to recover from most situations, I'd have thought.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 03 2013
  

       Depends. If the simulation pilot does something to cause the plane to enter a flat spin, the override pilots won't be able to correct. That's also part of what worries me about the handling. What's the correct behavior to break a large plane out of a dangerous situation might not be for a smaller one with different handling characteristics.   

       Maybe a small fast plane can duplicate everything a large plane would do, but I would expect the handling to be different enough to make it hard.
MechE, Jul 03 2013
  

       //What's the correct behavior to break a large plane out of a dangerous situation might not be for a smaller one with different handling characteristics.//   

       Yes, true; but if the simulation is happening 10,000ft above the true altitude, then the simulator "crashes", leaving the "real" pilot time to recover.   

       I'm thinking, in extremis, of some of the modern fly-by-wire fighters which can use an excess of raw power to fly at impossible angles.   

       I guess it might break down in the most extreme circumstances, but 99.9% of a commercial pilot's training is probably how to avoid getting into those circumstances, rather than getting the plane the right way up again.
MaxwellBuchanan, Jul 03 2013
  

       //But the instrument configurations would be all wrong.// Yes, but it's getting to be less of a problem, with the increase in "glass cockpit" aircraft.
lurch, Jul 03 2013
  

       //But the instrument configurations would be all wrong.//   

       No, take an actual flight simulator, put THAT in the plane and hook up the appropriate computer interface. Then you can swap out the ENTIRE simulator for another one. If you make the plane/interface right, you have access to the whole stock of existing flight simulators.
bs0u0155, Jul 05 2013
  

       ^ Except that most high level flight simulators are effectively custom built and /very/ expensive. Most of them are "one-offs" and they all have wildly different hardware interfaces (all custom made), power requirements and software. We're talking hand soldered circuit boards behind the panels. They require near daily maintenance from a certified mechanic to keep them operable. So the idea of just stuffing an off the shelf sim into a specially equipped airplane is - halfbaked.
DIYMatt, Jul 06 2013
  
      
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