CIvil simulators special: Measuring the load

Washington DC
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This story is sourced from Flight International
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While researching the differences between how pilots react to upset conditions in an actual aircraft versus a ground-based simulator, officials at Calspan had an "ah-hah!" moment. The data showed that pilots in the aircraft tended to react too timidly to upsets, prolonging or exacerbating the event, while those in the simulator tended to over-react, exposing the aircraft to potentially destructive g-loads or stalls.

James Priest, director of flight training for Calspan's flight research training centre, conceived an idea that later seemed an obvious solution - put a g-meter in the cockpit. The aid worked, helping pilots both in the aircraft and in the simulator to recover in a standardised fashion based on achieving a desired g-load (-0.5g for the nose-high recovery, for example) rather than reacting to the look or feel of the situation alone.

Next is development of a portable dual-axis load meter with graphical display that shows the individual loads on each wing as well as side loads on the vertical tail. Such a device, in the ground-based simulator, could help pilots to avoid breaching aircraft load limits or angle of attack or angle of sideslip envelopes for which the simulator motion systems are valid, says Priest.

Calspan's g-meter will help pilots correlate their recovery performance to g-loads they put on the aircraft