Air Crash Investigation

21 06 2008

I don’t think this one will actually make the show you see on Discovery Channel but you can almost be sure of it being a world’s first. Buba Jemmah, a student pilot at flying school in Florida had recently crashed a full sized aircraft simulator! I am quite sure the investigation into this incident would rival any real Air Crash Investigation. And with no loss of life, I am sure this incident would generate a lot more laughter than tears. The president of the school was quoted saying,”This is unprecedented. Nothing like this has ever happened in the aviation training world. These things are bolted to the floor!”

In the aviation industry pilots and often maintenance personnel are trained on a flight simulator like the one in the article. The machines are much more complex then the “simulators” you can buy as programs which you load into your personal computers. These are life sized cockpits mounted on hydraulically articulated platforms that give feeling of realistic movement to the occupants of the simulator. A majority of these platforms use a variation Stewart Platform which uses 6 hydraulic actuators giving the platform 6 degrees of freedom (DoF). In the video below you can see a crane mounted on such a platform.

The occupants of a flight simulator is placed on such a platform has no view of the outside world except probably through a small window in the entry/exit door of the simulator. With no external references, the motion of the platform would trick our senses into believing we are actually encountering real motion and acceleration in response to control stick input. I have no doubt that the sense of realism compounded this student’s mistake and caused him to panic. Somehow he had managed to cause one or more of the actuators to throw the whole platform off balance and rip it out of its mountings. I am sure the his instructor offered a silent prayer that he was not in a real aircraft with this student at the controls.

The one pictured above is owned and operated by Swiss International Airlines or SwissAir. Some of these simulators can cost as much as a small business jet. When in operation, the drawbridge you see on the right is retracted allowing the platform it’s full freedom of movement. If you ever have the chance to see one of these simulators, ask the person guiding you for a full motion demonstration, even if he is the one doing the “flying”. The degree of realism would really surprise you.




2 responses

22 06 2008

this is a joke right? hahaa i almost died laughing when i read the headlines

22 06 2008

Well, didn’t I tell you this story would generate more laughter than tears. Hahaha!

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