Inside a Flight Simulator

Posted on: March 16th, 2012 by
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The amazing redundant design of a modern airliner means that various components can fail and the aircraft (and it’s occupants!) remain perfectly safe.  This is completely not like your car or your lawnmower… in those things it only takes one part to fail and the whole thing comes to a halt.  Airliners, on the other hand, have multiple redundant systems that can handle numerous component failures and still be operated safely.

That safe operation, however, is not automatic.  It requires competent and well trained pilots who are familiar with operating the aircraft in different failure scenarios.  In the old days of aviation pilots were trained in maneouvres in real aircraft, but there were only so many things that could be safely practiced.  These days things are different.

Airline pilots regularly undergo training and testing in full-motion flight simulators. These machines, costing upwards of $30 million dollars each, fully and faithfully represent the aircraft, it’s systems, and it’s flight characteristics.  They allow pilots to be trained in a wide range of failure scenarios, and also to gain familiarity prior to operating into new airports.  The training allowed by these amazing devices has been a huge contributor to the improvement in flight safety over the last few decades.

Below is a short video showing one of these simulators operated by a major airline.  This particular simulator is for a Boeing 747-400, but the simulators for other airliners are “similar”.  While the person conducting the interview and sitting in the simulator is a reporter rather than a pilot, it does show you how realistic today’s simulators are, and therefore what a great training benefit they can provide.

So next time you are feeling concerned about the “meat up the front of the plane” remember that pilots today have the very best equipment available to teach them to handle untoward situations.

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