The flight simulators will help the operators to artificially recreate the experience of aircraft flight and its environment. These simulators in the aviation industry are used for pilot training, aircraft design & development, research purpose, testing flight hardware & software, etc…. The flight simulation system will replicate the equations related to flight operation and shows how the aircraft will respond to external factors like air density, turbulence, wind shear, cloud, precipitation, etc… Replicating and simulating the feel of flying without causing any safety issues is the primary advantage of the flight simulation system. Also, the pilots can get used to the flight controls without flying an actual flight.
It is well-known that the aircraft has lots of hydraulic applications. Then, what about the flight simulators? Yes, it can also be operated with the power of hydraulics. For an aircraft, hydraulics is used in ground handling systems, landing gear, high lift, flight control, thrust reverser, and more. But, the motion base of the flight simulator itself is built with six hydraulic actuators. The compartment will provide a response to each of the control input signals provided. The hydraulic flight simulators ruled the aviation industry for more than 40 years and now some new flight simulators are also using electric power.
When the flight simulation performance is considered, both hydraulic and electric power are equally acceptable. The electric flight simulation system is just a technical advancement having common features like that of hydraulic. But, when considering the difference, there are some and it is listed below.
- Compared with electric flight simulation system, the hydraulic-powered systems can provide better performance while overloaded
- The performance of both electric and hydraulic powered flight simulation system is almost similar.
- Hydraulic flight simulators are comparatively durable and simple.
- The electrical system requires high voltage and the hydraulic system needs pressurized fluid to operate the actuators.
- Both the electric and hydraulic system will provide maximum safety.
Read More: Basics on Aircraft Hydraulic system
For replicating different real-world flying conditions, the flight simulators include different controls and the operators will be able to experience the 3D or spatial feel of flying just by sitting inside a cockpit-like flight simulator. Here, the motion of this compartment is generated using the operation of the attached hydraulic system. How does the hydraulic system in a flight simulator work? The hydraulic power unit(HPU) and a motion base are the two major hydraulic subsystems in the flight simulator. Generally, the HPU will supply hydraulic power for the operation of connected systems in the circuit. The HPU circuit contains a reservoir, two electric motor-hydraulic pump units, filters, hoses, fittings, and more. In the flight simulators, HPU will power the motion base to provide six-degree-of-freedom.
For providing six-degree-of-freedom, the flight simulator contains six hydraulic actuators that support the compartment. The control signals sent from the compartment will be transmitted to servo-valves connected to the actuator and this will generate six degrees of motion like heave, sway, rotational motion, linear motion, roll, and pitch. Each of the actuators can be controlled independently based on the control signal input.