A LOW-COST simulator, aimed at helping aeronautical- engineering students understand the mechanics of aircraft flight, is being used at London's City University, in the UK.

The MP520-T, developed by UK-based Merlin Products, includes an enclosed, single-seat cockpit mounted on a three-axis hydraulic, or two-axis pneumatic, motion system.

The simulator costs £50,000-100,000 ($78,000-156,000), depending on specification, and is based on a standard Intel Pentium personal-computer processor.

"We don't pretend this is a navigation or pilot trainer," says Marion Neal, marketing director at Merlin. "It is to show the effect of changing various parameters." The simulator models a "generic" aircraft, and allows key parameters to be changed to illustrate a particular aspect of flight. The aircraft's centre-of-gravity can be moved aft of the normal limit to demonstrate longitudinal instability.

Neal believes that the MP520-T could also be used for testing hand/eye co-ordination in pilot training applicants and provide experience of aircraft instability modes during ground school. Prof George Done of City University says the system should "pay for itself in two to three years", as it eliminates the need for students to fly in real aircraft.

The MP520-T system should pay for itself in two to three years' time.

Source: Flight International