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  Sunday 23 July 2017 20:28 GMT  

Flight Simulation - General Information

Flight Simulation & MS Flight Simulator ...

What is Flight Simulation ?

Flight Simulation is simulating an aircraft and its dynamics and feel as far as possible through the use of computer systems and advanced software.

There are two kinds of flight simulation: professional flight simulation, used for training flight crews, and personal flight simulation, used by individuals for fun or out of interest.

Flight simulation is supposed to give the impression and feeling of actual flight.
To achieve this, simulation software first of all tries to simulate the aircraft gauges and instruments as realistically as possible (often on realistic panels, but that's the hardware part..), and of course the aircraft's surroundings such as airports, scenery, sees and other aircraft, using complex 3D-technology. Often Air Traffic Control simulation is also included in the software, simulating human intelligence and speak.


Professional Flight Simulation

Flight Simulation is a highly effective tool for flight crew training organisations. It is used by many pilot training facilities to educate pilots, and train uncommon and/or dangerous situations, which would not be safe in the real world.

Most of all, simulators save a lot of money: no aircraft, fuel, airport and ATC costs, and you can go anywhere you want at anytime.

Professional simulators range from small (only a few normal computer monitors), to very large. The latter are the ones used to train airline pilots in the final stages of their flight training or to test pilots' flying skills in periodical checkrides and training sessions.

These simulators often are the so-called Full Motion Flight Simulators (FMFS). These are placed on multiple hydraulic cylinders to enable motion in all possible directions. These simulators are extremely expensive, and cost per flight hour on these things is very high as well.

Why is it so expensive? Because it requires many superfast computers, because the cockpit is built using real world parts and looks exactly the way it does in the real thing, because it used advanced software, enabling practically all real world aircraft functions and simulating all possible flight conditions, and finally because the visual system is a 180-degree screen made out of one piece which provides an ultimate view of the simulated surroundings.


Personal Flight Simulation

Personal flight simulation is the other kind of flight simulation as described above. It usually means simulating real world flight on a personal computer for only one person.

Most popular probably is Microsoft's Flight Simulator series (MSFS). This is well affordable and has excellent capabilities.

Many people use personal flight simulation software for fun and as a hobby. However, many real world pilots use it too, to practice certain skills (such as radio navigation or FMS programming), so as a professional simulator in a way. (see next section for more)

MS Flight Simulator is very popular worldwide for many years. There's other software too, such as X-plane (which is free, but very good).

Aspects of personal FS software in general include:
- cockpit displays, instruments, interior, co-pilot
- aircraft interior, cabin, passengers
- aircraft exterior, control surfaces, flaps, lights, engines, gear
- aircraft feeling, flight dynamics, V-speeds and other settings/limits
- sound of engines, cockpit, interior, environment (different sounds in-/outside)
- airports, runways, taxiways, parkings, gates, terminals, control towers
- scenery, cities, landmarks, night lighting
- weather, clouds, winds, precipitation, fog, pressure, temperature


Who uses MSFS ?

Like also explained on the online flying page, many people from many countries worldwide and as many cultures, and also of all ages use MS Flight Simulator or other personal flight simulation software. Aviation enthusiasts, other non-pilots, pilots, and future pilots.

It's simply fun and entertaining, and demands a certain level of mental effort to fly aircraft as if it were for real. Hasn't flying always been a dream of man..?

Many people don't like it when FS software is called a 'game'. Many virtual pilots take flight simulation very seriously and know a lot about real world aircraft systems and all kinds of procedures.

Completing a flight succesfully always gives a feeling of "great job again"!

How seriously you take a (virtual) flight, is completely up to you. It can be satisfying to simulate an airline flight as far as possible (online with others), fun doing things not really possible or not allowed in the real world, and very relaxing to fly through beautiful scenery with nice distant views.

If you haven't used FS yet and want to start, getting started is easy! You'll need a good computer with speakers, recent FS software & a yoke or joystick... then you will be up in the air in minutes!


The Future of Flight Simulation

As technology keeps improving, computers keep getting faster and flight simulation capabilities and possibilities keep increasing.

This part is about personal FS, since professional FS is already very advanced...

Flight simulation will always attempt to get closer to 'the real thing', to provide both real world and virtual pilots the best possible sensation of real flight.

Like everything else, scenery simulation also becomes more advanced. Some time we may see (live) real world scenery simulation, and also live real world air traffic simulation.

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still developing and expectations on this area are high. AI enables human intelligent features, such as air traffic control (a complex task).

Larger networks than we have now are to appear, so people from around the world can fly in one shared airspace, live, with extreme accuracy.

Which large improvements are wanted? The graphics are pretty excellent, and will only get better. Two major improvements to personal flight simulation aren't really to be made to the software, but to the hardware/ the real environment.

One thing that personal flight simulation really lacks is obviously movement. However, this is not really a job for software developers, but for FS hardware developers. Real(istic) motion for personal FS will no doubt be realized some time in the future.

Motion, and furthermore the visual part are things that still make you feel like you're on the ground, instead of up in the air. Solutions to this will be developed in the future, but it always takes time before new developments become affordable.

It's always a great thing to think ahead, of what will come... still it is wiser not to, because it makes current FS technology look terrible and (near) future improvements very far away... ;-)

Happy flights !!!

Of course, we welcome your comments on this text!

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