Computer Hardware and Simulation Gaming for Aviation Safety Considered

Modern day computer hardware is getting quite robust, and there is about 10 times the computing power in a smart phone as was used to fly the first Space Shuttle, maybe more. Still, when it comes to operating today’s aircraft simulators the computer hardware is intense, and these simulators can cost a ton of money. Because they cost so much the time to use them becomes very valuable, therefore most airlines only use them as required to check out their pilots, or train them for certification on the next aircraft that pilot needs to fly so he or she can get their type rating and satisfactorily prove they are safe.

The other day, I was speaking with an expert in computer online gaming communities, Troy Laclaire, about the use of simulators in aviation, and how great these tools were for complying with safety standards and preventing mistakes in the real world, carrying real passengers, when it really mattered most. One question we pondered was should airline pilots, commercial pilots, charter pilots, and fractional jet pilots be required to fly with another pilot to an airport first prior to going there as the pilot in command for the first time.

If such an onerous rule were to be made by the FAA, what about simulators, couldn’t a pilot merely fly the last 5-10 minutes on approach and take-off to each airport that the airline generally went too? Maybe, but in the case of a charter jet, that might mean they’d spend 100s of hours in a simulator and that costs a lot of money right? Okay so is there a solution to all this? Troy has come up with one potential solution, so lets’ talk about this shall we. First, Troy notes:

The only problem with this is that simulators are not exactly cheap to run and each simulation takes a fair amount of time, and far as I understand simulators are mostly used to get pilots comfortable with flying a particular plane type. However, since the pilots are generally already familiar with flying their planes (at least I should hope so) and nearly everyone has computers these days, it is possible that you could have a DVD series created to cover the routes, based around actual flights, and then have the pilots use their computers to run these so that they can get some familiarity with the airports.

Now then, this is a good idea, and it makes sense, a perfect solution, plus it also stands to reason that a gaming expert would come up with this concept. Okay so, Troy also suggests that we “provide the pilots with a take home DVD, basic flight-sim gaming controls, and they can use these to get some muscle memory.” This too makes sense, keeping it simple, and perfect for a last-minute booking for a fractional jet, or charter flight, as the pilot can merely practice a couple of ILS approaches, missed approach, take-off, and navigating the taxi ways, etc.

Troy, being a computer hardware engineer, and quite the prudent safety advisor also states; “Alternatively, have a “pilots room” setup where a pilot can run through a video/basic simulator of a previous flight that has already flown that route, letting them get a rough idea of what to expect when going to an airport they are not yet familiar with.”

Okay so that’s pretty easy, it can be set up in the break room of the local Jet Center, or at an FBO etc. Perhaps, for $10-20 they can shoot a couple of landings at the desired future airport that they will be flying too? Perhaps, it might also be available to ALL general aviation pilots, the DVDs and a flight simulator room at the local FBO, etc. May as well keep the system busy and paying for itself, perhaps it might also spit out certificates of completion and aviation insurance companies may consider lowering rates too? Indeed, I hope you will consider all this and think on it.

The History Of Flight Simulator Games

Flight simulators are virtual tools that are designed to teach the user how to fly an aircraft without the risk. When you are learning how to fly professionally or for fun, you cannot buckle yourself into a 747 and expect to catch on in a matter of minutes. Flying an aircraft is not like riding a bike; one small mistake can have serious consequences. This is why flight simulator games were created to help teach training pilots how to fly. Learn about the history of flight simulation and see just how much it has advanced over the years.

The first known arcade game to use flight simulation was Jet Rocket. This simulator was released by Sega in 1970 and was designed as a form of entertainment and not training. The game featured a cockpit complete with all of the controls and a basic and stationary landscaping scene on the screen. Players could shoot missiles and explode targets before their eyes.

The advancement of these types of games brought the release of Jet Rocket making way for a whole genre of combat simulator games. The next popular game to hit the arcades was Interceptor made by Taito in 1975. This first-person shooter took flight simulation to a new level and used a joystick so the player could aim at enemy aircraft and disintegrate them in mid-air.

It was not until the 1980s that flight simulator games were made for personal computers. They have remained very popular on personal computers to this day. The first PC game to hit the market was subLOGIC. The subLOGIC game, created by Bruce Artwick, has basic graphics, real world scenery, and a mock control panel. The creator made several different versions of subLOGIC for Mac computers and later for IBM compatible computers. The IBM compatible versions were licensed under Microsoft as Flight Simulator 1.00. The company later released 2.0 and 3.0 versions with more aircraft options and better graphics.

After PC games, came more advanced games for playing consoles in the home. Sega released a flight simulator game in 1987 that was titled After Burner. This combat game used a joystick and was widely popular on the Genesis and later the PlayStation. Super Nintendo also released a game called Pilotwings. This game helped the player earn their pilot license by completing flight lessons that were built into the game.

These types of games may have started out slow but they have graduated into a huge market. They are designed to entertain you and teach you what it feels like to control an actual aircraft. New simulator games have advanced so much that you will really feel like you are controlling a plane. If you choose the right game, you can use controls that are found in actual cockpits and select the weather and time of day you want to fly. You can even fly over your house and see it with satellite technology. The world of flight games will continue to grow.

Flight Simulation Game

It just got to the point where the programs on the TV in the evening where deadly boring. You can only jog so much without losing your sanity and I needed some sort of diversion from the pressures at work; an escape of some sort, or excitement that did not involve huge expenditures of money or a huge investment of my time.

That was when my son suggested I try some of his games attached to his computer. Shooting the characters over different terrains was not my thing. Then I went online and looked around and found what I had been looking for.

I came across Flight Simulation games. I had messed around with one of these games about ten years ago and had good fun with it back then, but boy have things moved on since then. There was an accurate terrain, to fly over (or into), a big selection of aircraft, (in the old days I had a choice of three) planetary alignment and detailed features such as car headlights etc. It makes a big change to be able to be involved with a program and not feel you are too slow or not quick enough on the uptake to know the little tricks required to get you to the next ‘level’.

One thing I did not take into account was the family involvement. We ended up having ‘family competitions’ with typical ‘bendy’ family rules and a good time was had for us as a group and as individuals.

The layout of the instruments impressed my wife and she now has a pretty good idea of how things have been when we have taken trips abroad. The cloud presence is also realistic and of course the thrill of flying over well known landmarks or even your own house is awesome.

Of course the big thrill is to take from a particular airport and fly off to a new destination, there are hundreds of airports to choose from in these games. There are no restrictions to types of aircraft. Jet, propeller, old, new, helicopters and just about anything you could wish for. Shame I could not play with this in the office.

The real thing about it is the escape into a world of adventure right in your own house at minimal cost and time investment. The World of Flight Simulation has opened new doors for me and decreased my stress levels I hope it could do the same for you. If your circumstances were similar to mine.