The perfect illusion:

Technology of full flight simulators

Normally, pilots fly in the troposphere, but several times a year they fly at zero altitude in a full flight simulator (FFS). These simulators are built to exactly replicate the respective aircraft types and its flying performance so that today, training and check flights only take place in a simulator. This saves fuel, extends the life of the aircrafts and engines and allows training conditions, such as severe thunderstorms and system failures, which cannot be replicated in real flight operations.

All full flight simulators are based on the original cockpit of the respective aircraft type, which is mounted on a platform and can represent any realistic attitude by a so-called motion system. It’s not only the movements that are remarkably realistic: The entire acoustics are exactly like during a real flight. This is made possible by a state-of-the-art technology that is used exclusively in the Level D simulator of Lufthansa Aviation Training. They correspond to the highest accredited standards and simulate the friction of the air along the fuselage just as perfectly as the view from the front and side windows. This is how even the most difficult approaches and departure procedures can be practiced without risk before pilots fly to the actual airport for the first time with passengers onboard.

The motion system

Pilots feel the aircraft’s movement very precisely. To exactly replicate the sensations of a real flight, both the acceleration and G-forces must be simulated. To achieve this, the original cockpit is mounted on a platform that is moved by hydraulically or electrically operated stilts and can move in all degrees of freedoms. In order to overcome the natural limits of this technology which is contingent on the length of the stilts, additional simulation tricks are used.

For example, in order to simulate the start, the cockpit is tilted backwards, creating a perfect illusion triggered by a human’s equilibrium system: simulator crews actually have the sensation of rapid acceleration during this moment! During braking, the process is exactly the same, but reversed. The cockpit tilts forward; this movement coupled with the images that are sent from the visual system are interpreted as the braking and landing. The perceived movement corresponds every second to the "view from the window".

The visual system

Spatial orientation plays a crucial role in aviation safety. The cockpit crew must know at any given point where obstacles, mountains or hilly terrain around the airport are, regardless of visibility. The visual system provides more than a 180 degree view in satellite quality of all important objects at the relevant airport. This allows pilots to precisely work out their approach procedures for the airport in the simulator. A good example is the old airport in Hong Kong, for which specific approval and training was required to be able to land there. The relevant special training was carried out in full flight simulators.

The full flight simulators at Lufthansa Aviation Training

All flight simulators from Lufthansa Aviation Training (LFT) are certified to the highest level of accredited standards in accordance with JAR-FCL1A Level-D. These full flight simulators must not only fulfill certain functions, they also have to exactly replicate the respective aircraft type. In LFT, each simulator corresponds to a particular aircraft within the Lufthansa fleet. For example, the A320 Full Flight Simulator at the Lufthansa Aviation Training Center in Munich is an exact replica of the Airbus A320 with the registration D-AIPA. All LFT FFS are certified by the German Federal Aviation Authority (LBA) and are reviewed once a year by the LBA.
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Jens Katenkamp Jens Katenkamp

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