Types of Flight Simulation Devices and How They Work

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How Flight Simulation Devices Work A flight simulation device simulates aircraft flights in artificial environments and various conditions. It goes by several names, including Flight Training Device (FTD), Aviation Training Device (ATD), or Full Flight Simulator (FFS). These devices are primarily used to enhance pilot training and bear some resemblance to computer-based flight simulation games.

Flight simulation devices are typically categorized into two types:

Flight Training Devices (FTDs): These devices do not move and are classified by a number rather than a letter.
Full Flight Simulators (FFS): These devices can move and are classified by a series of letters.
FTDs are rated from 1 to 7, with 7 being the most advanced and they are arranged from the simplest to the most complex. Moving devices are classified with letters from A to D.
There are seven types of Flight Training Devices and four types of Full Flight Simulators, although they all serve the same basic functions, they differ in the tasks they can perform, as explained below:
Flight simulation devices are typically categorized into two types
Flight simulation devices are typically categorized into two types

Types of Flight Training Devices (FTD)

Level 1 FTDs

Level 1 FTDs are no longer in production, but a few older devices still exist, although they are no longer manufactured. Level 1 FTDs encompass a variety of devices that are no longer in production and cannot be categorized into any other level or category.

Level 2 FTDs

Level 2 FTDs are also no longer available, and the only devices that are still in use are the older ones owned and operated by their original owners. Level 2 FTDs began to mimic computer-based aviation training devices (PCATDs), although they were not known by this name at the time. They are highly important because their origin includes the beginning of more advanced types of computer-based flight training devices.

Level 3 FTDs

Level 3 FTDs are no longer manufactured, like the previous levels, but they can still be found in places where the original owners still possess them.

Level 4 FTDs

To be effective, Level 4 FTDs do not require an aerodynamic model, but they still need accurate system modeling. They allow the use of user-friendly touch screens for tasks involving flight management systems or flight management tools. Level 4 FTDs also lack control loading.

Level 5 FTDs

This type represents categories of aircraft such as multi-engine and single-engine aircraft. It requires a document called qualification along with an approval guide that lists FTD design standards. With Level 5 FTDs, devices start to behave just like the aircraft they are designed to simulate, including the inclusion of control loading. Level 5 FTDs require system modeling and aerodynamic programming and can represent either a specific aircraft model or a family of aircraft.

Level 6 FTDs

Level 6 FTDs are among the most realistic types, partly due to their expensive aerodynamic data. To operate this type, a physical cockpit and dedicated aerodynamic programming are required, as well as control feel. Level 6 FTDs are specifically oriented toward the type of aircraft they are simulating, including both actual functions and spatial relationships. Like Level 4 FTDs, they also require qualification documentation and approval guides, but they are more complex devices.

Level 7

Level 7 FTDs refer only to helicopters and are always model-specific. They require a vibration system for operation and demand all flight control and aerodynamic systems to be in place for effectiveness. Level 7 FTDs are also the first types that require a visual system.

Types of Full Flight Simulators

Level A Full Flight Simulators

There are only about ten of these types, and the Lockheed JetStar, one of the first business jets on the market, uses this kind of simulation. Their visual systems are not highly advanced and provide minimal data for simulating ground effects. They are designed for specific aircraft and not for other aircraft types. They require motion systems with a minimum of three degrees of freedom.

Level B Full Flight Simulators

Currently, there are 12 to 15 Level B simulators in the United States. One of them was delivered by a company called Frasca International, and it provides 80% of initial training for pilots. An example of a Level B simulator is the one found at the University of Alaska, referred to as Level B Plus by the manufacturer. It has a similar ground-to-ground capability as a Level C simulator, although it does not fall under the Level C category.

Level C Full Flight Simulators

Level C simulators feature less latency or less transition time compared to the previous two levels and require a motion platform that includes all six degrees of freedom. They also have visual systems that require a minimum horizontal field of view of 75 degrees for each relevant pilot. There are nearly 230 Level C simulators in use, providing better background and more robust data support for training, including landing, ground-to-ground capability, and device currency.

Level D Full Flight Simulators

Level D simulators can do everything, and there are currently approximately 400 to 450 of these devices in existence. They offer variations in performance and significantly improved data quality. These simulators also require visual systems, focusing display screens, realistic cockpit sounds, and many visual and motion effects. As the highest available level, they provide excellent and high-quality simulation.

Importance of Flight Simulation Devices

Full-motion Flight simulation devices provide realistic scenarios for student pilots.
Pilots of all ages can fly any type of aircraft. flight Simulation devices reduce training costs because the maintenance costs of flight simulators are lower than those of actual aircraft. Simulators also eliminate the need for fuel, providing financial incentives for pilot training.
In case of errors during challenging maneuvers, there is no risk of damage.

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