Flight simulators have been around almost as long as planes (or, arguably, even predate them). Just as many other advances in aircraft technology (and technology in general), flight simulators developed primarily in times of war. We’ll get into more of the details shortly, but for now, just be aware of how far we have come. Starting with essentially a barrel mounted on a swivel, to today with the Virtual Motion Simulator (VMS) at NASA/Ames — the largest flight simulator in the world with 60 feet of vertical movement capacity, along with some top of the line virtual reality software — we are able to train future pilots extremely well nowadays before they ever have to take to the skies.
Here at Crew Pilot Training (with locations in Florida and Texas), we utilized advanced B-737 simulation that can help you learn everything you need to know before you get up in the cockpit. For people who want to start or advance their airline pilot career, flight simulation is a valuable way for them to safely and cost-effectively learn the ropes. If you are in Florida or Texas and are looking for airline pilot courses for flying Boeing 737s, give Crew Pilot Training a call. We have been training B-737 pilots for all major airlines for over 40 years. All of our instructors are retired pilots from major airlines, and have the relevant experience to help take your career as an airline pilot to the next level. We hope to talk with you soon!
The Early Years of Flight Simulation
In the early years of aeronautics there have been some interesting ways implemented to train pilots. For example, for testing new aircraft prototypes, balloons might be attached to reduce the danger and damage of a crash.
One of the first ground-based training tools was a rather simple rig called The Teacher. It was essentially aircraft components and a barrel mounted to a swivel. It was moved manually to represent the pitch and roll of an aircraft. During WWI, flight training moved from human operation to mechanical and electrical setups. The most well-known of these early flight simulators was the Link Trainer.
The Link Trainer
The Link Trainer was designed by Edwin Link around 1927 to simulate the “feel” of flying. Throughout the 1930s the Link Trainer became more and more implemented for training, along with the development of new electronic technology, like the addition of the course plotter and other electronic navigational tools.
World War II Flight Simulation
The need to train large numbers of pilots during the war led to further implementation and development, largely building on top of the Link Trainer. There were a number of developments at this stage, for example, the design of synthetic radar trainers. By this point, the benefits of flight simulators were proven beyond a doubt, subsequently leading investment in new technology to tick up. The switch from analog to electrical computation began to define the newer generations of flight simulation, involving much more high tech rigs than the barrel on a swivel some decades prior.
In the 1960s, Links, building off of research from the University of Pennsylvania, developed a new electronic system that allowed for real time simulation: the Mark 1. The Mark 1 was the most successful breakthrough in flight simulation, quickly being purchased by most of the world’s major airlines as well as the U.S. military. As the digital revolution commenced, computation, the amount of data capable of being utilized, and visual interfaces all steadily began to be improved. The visual systems of the 50s used closed circuit television systems to communicate, and the first color systems were produced by Redifon in 1962. General Electric produced the first computer image generation (CGI) for the space programme, which was then implemented later in aircraft simulation.
The next development after the wide scale implementation of electronic technology and real-time computational data was the international standardization of flight simulators. In the 1970s, the IAFSTA (International Airline Flight Simulator Technical Association) was formed, where issues related to flight simulation and manufacturing were discussed. The result of the standardization was the development of an internationally recognized simulators’ certification, allowing for the reliable, more consistent training of civil aviation pilots internationally.
The development of flight simulation has been a long process of new technologies, new organizing bodies, and new challenges. Today, the technology for flight simulation is quite realistic. However, total realism is not the main goal of flight simulators today. The main goal is to continue to improve the process of training pilots, eliminating some of the more common issues and problems that are struggled with. The shift today is less on developing new hardware and more on improving existing software so that the interface is more streamlined and user-friendly. Another major focus with flight simulators today is to collect more data through artificial intelligence. Computer data gathering and real-time reaction is very helpful — for example, when a student makes too steep of a turn then AI can respond with real-time audio guidance to help the student correct. Through AI, the goal is to improve the skill level of the entire student base.
Flight Simulation at Crew Pilot Training
Crew Pilot Training utilizes flight simulation for our B-737 programs. Our flight school offers a comprehensive training regime for pilots looking to get their Airline Transport (ATO) Certification. All of our instructors and Training Center Evaluators (TCEs) are retired pilots from major airlines, with the skills and knowledge to train you to become a successful airline pilot. If you’re ready to take your airline pilot career to the next level, call Crew Pilot Training today! We have locations in both Texas and Florida.