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Flight Simulators among top 5 technologies affecting the aviation industry over the last 50 years

July 1, 2008


In the July issue of Business & Commercial Aviation, “Five for 50” identifies Flight Simulators as one of the 5 leading technologies affecting the aviation industry over the last 50 years…

Airplanes are lousy classrooms. The onslaught of sensory stimuli in flight can overwhelm the student’s concentration. Beyond that, some maneuvers are too dangerous or time consuming and flight training consumes fuel and causes aircraft to wear or break. To help minimize that, training organizations since the Wright era have employed a wide variety of devices to help pilots see, feel and do while still on the ground; these aids reached a new level in World War II when Edwin Link’s bellows-driven “blue box” was used to train U.S. Army pilots to fly on instruments. Flight simulation advanced significantly with the arrival of the analog computer and the jet airplane. When the new high-performance aircraft began experiencing loses due to new phenomena including Mach tuck and overspeed, insurers and operators agreed that pilot training had to be conducted in type specific simulators. The inflight training alternative was simply inadequate and too costly. Simulation improved further with the introduction of ultra-high-capacity microchip processors, allowing large-screen, detailed color visuals. Accident rates improved dramatically with full flight simulator training. Few technologies have had so positive an impact on an industry’s well-being.

Quoted with permission from “Five for 50”, Mal Gormley, William Garvey and Staff. Business & Commercial Aviation, McGraw-Hill Companies, July 2008, page 53.

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