William F. Moroney
University of Dayton
Brian W. Moroney
University of Cincinnati
The U.S. Army Signal Corps' Specification Number 486 ( 1907) for the first "air flying machine" has a very straightforward "human factor" requirement: "It should be sufficiently simple in its construction and operation to permit an intelligent man to become proficient in its use within a reasonable period of time." Less than 3 years later, Haward ( 1910, as quoted in Rolfe & Staples, 1986) described an early flight simulator as "a device which will enable the novice to obtain a clear conception of the workings of the control of an aeroplane, and of the conditions existant in the air, without any risk personally or otherwise" (p. 15).
The capabilities of both aircraft and flight simulators have evolved considerably since that time. Modern flight simulators have the same purpose except they are used not only by novices but by fully qualified aviators seeking a proficiency rating in a particular type of aircraft. Indeed, after qualifying on a simulator, pilots may proceed directly from a simulator to a revenue-producing flight.
Flight simulation is a worldwide industry ( Sparaco, 1994), with sales of $3 bil 7 lion/year for commercial airlines and $2.15 billion/year for the U.S. Department of Defense. Individual simulators range in price from $3,000 for a PC-based simulation with basic controls up to an average of $10-$13 million for a motion-based simulator (down from $15-$17 million in the early 1990s).
Flight simulation is essentially the representation of aircraft flight and system characteristics with varying degrees of realism for research, design, or training purposes ( Cardullo, 1994a). Cardullo listed three categories of training simulators: (a) the Operational Flight Trainer (OFT), used to train individual pilots or crews in an aspects of flight and the use of flight, navigation, and communication systems; (b) the Weapons Systems Trainer (WST), used to train in the use of offensive and defensive systems; and (c) the Part Task Trainer (PTT), used to train flight crews for specific tasks (e.g., in-flight refueling).
Most flight simulators have the following features: