2781 years is a long time and your most likely thinking that this number surely cannot be correct? How could it have taken 2781 years to build a Full Flight Simulator? Well, let me explain. This is our engineering teams combined number of years of experience, which has then been invested into the development and production of the world’s leading Full Flight Simulator, the RealitySeven FFS.
But before we get onto the RealitySeven FFS and the importance of this incomparable level of experience, let’s take a look back at the journey of innovation that we have been on at L3 and how it has shaped today’s flight training technology allowing us to achieve the level of fidelity as found in the RealitySeven FFS.
For those who know of the history of pilot training, ours starts right at the very beginning with the invention of the first flight simulation device, the Link Trainer, produced by Edwin Link in Binghamton, New York, which he started building in 1927.
Edwin Link was a pilot, however, felt that there was a real need for flight training in a safe environment. This lead to Edwin inventing the very first ground-based pilot training device eliminating the restrictions caused by weather, lack of aircraft availability and instructors. This early design was a huge milestone in the history of pilot training and flight simulation. It incorporated a motion system that provided pilots with cues as to angular motion in pitch, roll, and yaw as well as a simulated cockpit that allowed for instrument training. The Link Trainer was fundamental throughout the early 1900’s and continued to be manufactured into the 1950's. We are lucky enough to have one at our London Training Center still today, and although it’s no longer used for training, it serves as a great memory.
From that point on, flight simulation has been at the forefront of pilot training with the technology constantly evolving, and the team at L3 has been a part of the development of each generation of device.
Some of the key developments include the Link and Weems Celestial Navigation Trainer of which entered service in 1941, the revolutionary Redifon Comet 4 simulator in 1958 and also the first Full Flight Simulator approved for zero hour flight time training, the Rediffusion Full Flight Simulator. Since then, we have seen multiple new generations of training devices taking us through to today’s most advance training solution so far, the award winning RealitySeven Full Flight Simulator.
Today’s full-flight simulators are now very much regulatory driven. The industry’s requirements for what a fully qualified full flight simulator must offer is clearly defined and understood throughout the pilot training industry. However, something that remains a challenge is the engineering quality that enables these devices to provide the highest level of fidelity and operational reliability. From my experience, this is only possible by having a diverse, experienced and highly skilled team behind the build of every training device.
At L3, we have found that by having such a large number of people with experience of up to 45+ years, we are well equipped to develop the best hardware and software available, and we believe that this is what sets our product apart from the other solutions available.
A real challenge face is maintaining this level of experience of which is extremely rare to find elsewhere in the pilot training industry, and it’s vital that knowledge is passed down to the future generation of engineers to continue the fantastic work.
At L3, we have been successful over the years in ensuring that the most experienced engineers play a role in mentoring our newest engineers that are coming through our apprentice and graduate programmes. Where this really starts to pay off, is where you begin to see a mixture of ideas, opinions, and skills form. We now see our newest engineers utilizing the knowledge that has been passed down to them, alongside their own understanding of new technologies, resulting in the creation of new concepts that will likely influence the future generation of full flight simulators used in pilot training.
So 91 years of flight simulation, many generations of devices and 2781 current years’ worth of experience is what makes the RealitySeven however, what’s next for future of Full Flight Simulation training?
What we do know, is that big data, IoT, virtual reality and augmented reality will all play a key role in shaping the next generation of device. In order for this to be possible there will be an increasing need to have young engineers with the appropriate skills and knowledge to develop it.
Sanjay Kaeley - Head of Product Solutions