Professional pilots know well that full flight simulators are excellent places to learn procedures, systems, crew resource management, and how to make the best use of your flight management system/autopilot/autothrottle.
But you can’t learn to fly manually in them, no matter how good the visual systems and how faithful the cockpit model. They just don’t feel the same.
In fact they’re more difficult to “fly” manually than real aeroplanes are. With a bit of over-controlling you can get into a pilot induced oscillation in a real aeroplane, but in a simulator it’s difficult not to get into one even if you play it gently.
Some years ago I tried flying a classic 737 simulator doing landings with a 30kt crosswind. It was not good. But then I flew the same box with an Lm2 lateral acceleration motion modifier switched on. The difference was dramatic, and you can read about the experience here.
But after that, for Lm2, everything went quiet for a long time, and it has only gradually began to make commercial headway.
Imagine if you were one of the big commercial simulator manufacturers, and a little guy told you he had a better motion system than you or anybody else, but he had patented it.
Well, the big guys didn’t like it much, but CAE has been quietly negotiating with Lm2′s inventor, Capt Filip VanBievliet, whose company is now known as AWx, or Acceleration Worx, and things are changing.
Three years ago Cathay Pacific/Dragonair bought Lm2 motion modifiers for its simulators and has been delighted. Late last year Atlas Air bought the system for its two 747-400F simulators.
But the next big one has just happened: the USAF has bought Lm2 for its 19 Boeing KC-135 simulators.
Because of the way the military operate, especially with classic types like the KC-135, manual flying skills are even more important than they are with the civvies. Watch this space for interest in modifying C-130 and C-17 simulators with Lm2.
Simulators are no good at teaching pilots to fly landings in a new type. Simulators with Lm2 are good at it. A couple of hard landings that bend the gear – and even the fuselage – should make it worth trying.