Pilots and flight experts around the world have called for improved training on 'upset recovery' situations – righting a plane that has stalled or been thrown into an unstable situation due to weather or a technical problem. To give pilots the critical training they need, the European Union- funded project SUPRA developed what has been called 'the ultimate flight simulator'. SUPRA has enhanced flight simulators beyond their current capabilities.
The project comprises a broad team that includes aerospace research companies, a university, a flight test centre, a developer of flight simulators, and a cognitive research institute. Three Russian partners joined in with specific expertise that is hard to find inside the EU. “We developed a new mathematical model that satisfactorily reproduces the behaviour of large transport aircraft in extreme situations,” said project coordinator Eric Groen of the Dutch research company TNO.
Relying on this model, the simulator can move and spin wildly in all three dimensions, replicating an aircraft that is hurtling out of control. This will help train pilots to develop strategies to keep or retain control of an aircraft. Experienced test pilots from companies including Airbus and Boeing, who know from experience how large transport air- planes behave in upset situations, have confirmed the fidelity of the SUPRA simulators.
The experiments’ results indicate that using the simulator can prepare a pilot for dealing with a crisis, simply by knowing what to expect.
'What we have discovered,' Groen said, 'is that if you have a pilot who has little or no experience with actual G-forces during upset conditions in a real aircraft, the pilot will be overwhelmed when he or she first feels them.'
'Collectively, the Russian scientists represented an impressive amount of knowledge and experience in all key innovative areas of the project,' said Eric Groen. With expertise in wind tunnel testing, simulator motion, flight testing, aircraft handling and other specialised areas, the Russian partners gave SUPRA a valuable head start. A Russian test pilot flew numerous flights in the simulator, identifying inadequacies that were adjusted and tested until the simulator felt exactly like a real aircraft. 'Our Russian partners were highly motivated to participate and achieve results,' Groen said. 'Altogether, SUPRA has greatly benefited from the Russian expertise and their efforts, which undeniably contributed to the project's success.'
This bodes well for vast practical applications of SUPRA’s work. Several European airlines have already shown interest in the technology and the team is now showing its results to various aviation organisations responsible for pilot training.
More information at:
Dr. Eric Groen
Scientific Coordinator SUPRA
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