Electrics replace fluid in sim

 - November 28, 2006, 7:15 AM

Electrical actuation for motion and control loading has been in use on military simulators for a while, but FlightSafety International says that its new Citation Sovereign simulator (which the U.S. Federal Aviation Administration recently approved to the Level D standard) is the world’s first civil full flight simulator whose motion and control loading are powered by electricity rather than hydraulics.

Why is this important to pilots? FlightSafety says that, compared with the high temperatures and high pressures that are part and parcel of hydraulics, electric actuation does the job more reliably, more quietly and (through the elimination of possible high-velocity leaks of toxic hydraulic fluid) more safely. The new Sovereign sim is in service at FSI’s Orlando, Florida, learning center.

Business aviation is generating enough demand for training these days so that sims are often booked around the clock, and if the reliability of this new technology can relegate to “the good old days” those hydraulic mechanical failures that derailed a corporate pilot’s long-awaited 2 a.m. training slot, so much the better for the customer.

FlightSafety expects that reduced scheduled maintenance requirements will also improve availability of the sim for training, and electrical actuation promises, somewhat ironically perhaps, to use 60 percent less electricity than a hydraulic system would have consumed. Those old familiar hose trenches also become a thing of the past with electrical simulation stimulation.

FSI has also introduced the Graphical Flight Simulator LNV, whose cockpit layout and controls can be designed and configured for a wide variety of fixed- and rotary-wing types and training objectives such as firefighting, law enforcement, search-and-rescue, emergency medical service and maintenance training. The portable device can be set up at a fixed site or transported inside a trailer or container. The training system is designed for resource sharing between flight departments or organizations, and multiple LNV trainers can be linked for real-time collective training through an on-site centralized control station.

Training on the Web

With its E-Learning program, FlightSafety moves deeper into the Web by “giving our customers the flexibility and efficiency benefits of online training,” noted FSI president Bruce Whitman. Smoothing the online process is the myFlightSafety Web portal, which provides almost 10,000 users with resources that FSI says streamline the training process from enrollment through certification. The site gives flight-department managers, pilots and maintenance technicians password-protected access to the company’s listing of courses and allows them to make training reservations online and request training records and so on.

Helicopter Developments

In the realm of helicopters, FSI and Sikorsky have expanded their training offerings with the addition of one S-92 simulator and two S-76C+/C++ simulators, all expected to enter service next year and all equipped with FSI’s 200- by 60-degree Vital visual system and electrically actuated motion and control loading. The S-92 sim will be installed at FSI’s new London Farnborough training center, and the first of the two new S-76 sims will take up residence at the West Palm Beach learning center. Demand will dictate where the second S-76 sim goes into service. All three sims will be qualified for both FAA and JAA training standards.

FSI also has introduced what it describes as a comprehensive program for emergency medical services (EMS) operators. The course provides pilots and medical crews with non-type-specific instruction in EMS ops such as procedures and risk management skills associated with both IFR and VFR operations, inadvertent IMC, night ops and hazard avoidance–historically the deadliest traps lurking to snare the unwary in the challenging world of EMS helicopter ops. There is special emphasis on the importance of situational awareness, communication, decision-making and teamwork, according to FSI, using analysis and recreation of recent incidents and mishaps to sharpen trainees’ appreciation of the risks.

In a similar vein, FlightSafety  now is sharing resources with Global Jet Services to emphasize human factors in aviation maintenance. The courses range from two days to a week in length and can be taken at FSI learning centers or off site at a facility convenient for the customer.