Flight Simulators and Pilot Training

In completing pilot training, it is important that a pilot has a comprehensive understanding of various aspects of flight. A pilot must be well versed on the hundreds of components featured on an aircraft, how they might differ in the many types of aircraft, and the various stressors an aircraft can encounter in its flight cycle— including systems malfunction and adverse weather conditions. In addition, the pilot must be able to simultaneously monitor RPM, altitude factors, navigation, and more. So how can they realistically prepare for complex conditions that are so difficult to replicate in real-time?  Nowadays, a virtual reality (VR) flight simulator is often used to prepare pilots for circumstances they might encounter.

A typical flight simulator is a cockpit replica that is modeled after a specific aircraft and its flying performance. The replicated control room is mounted on a hydraulically or electronically operated platform, allowing the simulator to replicate movements of the cockpit based on acceleration and G-force that a pilot might encounter on a real flight. The acoustics are also designed to simulate what a pilot might hear during flight; the sound design factors in acoustic elements associated with pressurization cycles, weather, and the sound of aircraft mechanisms. Most flight simulators will feature replicated manufacture grade hardware or are equipped with real parts.

Flight simulators differ in what they can offer for malfunction systems, avionics, and cockpit variation. Most will have the capacity to replicate airspeed controls, landing nuances, RPM controls, altitude level monitors, sensor malfunctions, adverse weather conditions, navigation systems, and more. There are 3 types of flight simulator used today: Aviation Training Device (ATD), Flight Training Device (FTD), and Full Flight Simulators (FFS).

An ATD is a simulation used for general aviation. General aviation pilots are tested every 12 months to maintain their license. This simulator is helpful in providing a space for pilots to practice their basic skills and is often used in preparation to earn their private pilot certificate.

An FTD is more advanced than an ATD. It features levels that test a pilot based on knowledge of aerodynamics, programming and avionics, and other requirements.

An FFS is used frequently to help prepare pilots for civil aviation. It involves four specified levels that fully replicate sound, movement, and visual effects the pilot would encounter on a standard commercial flight. These simulators have a full interactive world view that is visible to the pilot through the cockpit windshield.

Altogether, a VR flight simulator can create a remarkably realistic environment, that can help a pilot prepare for flight in differentiating aircraft. This aids in preparing pilots for situations that are difficult to replicate in real time, such as extreme weather, engine failure, or avionics malfunction. As each type of aircraft has specific features, and integrated systems, this preparation is key in ensuring pilot preparedness in flight.

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Lighthouses in Aviation

In nautical navigation, lighthouses are used to inform sailors of upcoming ports or to warn them of dangerous rocky coastlines, reefs, or sandy shoals that may be difficult to see in high tide. The iconic rotating flashlight on a high tower warns maritime sailors or ship captains of the environmental dangers, allowing them to avoid collision and possible damages. The same principles apply for aviation navigation. Tall buildings and large telecommunication towers pose as serious safety hazards to pilots the same way a rocky cliff would to a sailor. Therefore, there is a distinct need for some sort of warning system for pilots and navigators of the skies. This is where aircraft warning lights come into play. Essentially, the warning lights are put in place in order to notify the pilots that there is an object that could be in their way.

Aircraft warning lights are affixed to the tops of tall buildings and telecommunication towers. The higher the structure, brighter the lights have to be in order to meet regulations. This is completed by increasing the number of lights used as well as the intensity of each light. These regulations are monitored and measured by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These two organizations work together to make sure that structures that could be potential hazards to aircraft display the proper warning lights, according to both federal and international regulations.

The number of lights on the sides of the building is dependent on the area that the base of the building covers. The higher the building the more warning lights there needs to be and higher intensity they need to be. Buildings over 150 meters tall need to be affixed with high intensity lights that are visible during both day and night. Buildings over 45 meters tall are required to have a white LED strobe light, and buildings under 45 meters tall are required to have a fixed red light that only needs to be visible at night.

Imagine if on a cloudy night with low visibility, a Boeing 747 needs to do an emergency landing in a field, unaware that there are a multitude of telecommunication towers nearby; consequently, the plane crashes into the towers, causing an electrical fire amongst all else. Although the reality of this situation is extremely unlikely, there needs to be a failsafe for if and when a situation like this occurs.

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Fixed-Wing VTOL
Is it a bird? Is it a plane? Is it a helicopter? Fixed-Wing Vertical Take-Off and Landing Aircrafts (Fixed-Wing VTOLs) are the fusion created to fill the void that previous aircrafts created. There are two distinct types of aircrafts, each with their own of advantages and disadvantages. Fixed-wing aircrafts are exactly as they sound; they have wings that are locked into place and cannot move. Because of their structure, they resemble the shape of a bird during flight. Typical airplanes like the Airbus A300 Beluga and the Boeing 777 are fixed wing aircrafts, they require landing strips in order to take off/land and are typically used for commercial air travel. On the other hand, rotorcraft relies on rotary wings positioned on a mast in order to achieve take off. Helicopters and drones are examples of the vertical take-off capability of rotorcraft. Fixed wings have larger capacities and are able to achieve higher speeds, while rotorcrafts are able to stay hovering in the air, making them more practical for emergency scenarios or for dramatic action movie scenes.

Aside from having airborne capabilities, it seems as though there are no similarities between the two. What one lacks, the other makes up for. They are a Yin-Yang duo that seem to me immiscible. This has created a market for a vessel that can carry out the functionalities of both a fixed-wing and a rotorcraft. The solution for this is the fixed-wing vertical take-off and landing aircraft (fixed-wing VTOL).

The fixed-wing VTOL is a hybrid between a fixed-wing and a rotorcraft. It has rotary wings that allow it to hover but has the capability to switch to horizontal flight mid-air in fixed-wing fashion. The hover functionality allows it to be used for emergency rescues from disasters like earthquake or tsunami. In most applications, fixed-wing VTOL technology is used in military applications. As unmanned aerial vehicles (UAV), fixed-Wing VTOLs can be controlled remotely the same way drones can. Because of this Fixed-Wing VTOL UAVs have characteristics that make them suitable for inspection, surveillance, and reconnaissance (ISR), making them a major defense investment.

Other foreseeable applications for this technology include law enforcement, travel, and agriculture. In 2016 the revenue for this market was reported to be $1.98 billion. Manufacturers of fixed-wing VTOL UAVs are working towards increasing the durability of these vessels as well as creating electric powered variants in order to appeal to a civilian market.

Fixed-Wing VTOLs are an exciting new innovation to the field of aerospace. They are perfect examples of our capabilities of building upon existing technologies in order to create advancements that will propel us into the future.

At ASAP AXIS, owned and operated by ASAP Semiconductor, we can fulfill all your fixed-wing aircraft parts and assembly needs, new or obsolete. As a premier supplier of parts for the aerospace, civil aviation, and defense industries, we’re always ready and available to help you find all the parts you need 24/7x365. For a quick and competitive quote, email us at sales@asapaxis.com, or call us at +1-920-785-6790. 

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