April 25th 2022

How does a flight simulator work?

In our electrical engineering laboratory at MCI, there is what at first appears to be a strange-looking device with a saddle and control stick. But it is nothing other than a flight simulator.

Michael Schmidt and Katalin Nagy with the flight simulator © Staffler

Originally, flight simulations were developed for training purposes. However, over time and with the help of growing technologies, programs for home computers could be created. As a result, flight simulations have become a popular form of entertainment as can be seen in computer games, among other things.

The earliest flight simulators were created in Germany in the early 20th century and even then had a moving platform with a pilot's seat and a control stick. A lot has happened since, with the addition of screens as well as flight sounds that provided a fictional view from the cockpit to more realistically represent the forces and accelerations that occur during a flight.

The platform, which is operated in the electrical engineering laboratory at MCI, uses mechanics from VRXsim and provides the basis for testing new types of aircraft.
In contrast to known simulators used for training purposes at airlines, this system aims to investigate the flight characteristics of aircraft, which for the time being are only available in the form of a digital model. This means that the control software can already be developed while the actual aircraft is still being built. Based on a code generator certified for aerospace applications, the software used on the final onboard computer is generated after successful virtual test flights. This simulation platform is being developed at MCI under the team leadership of Ronald Stärz in collaboration with the Aerospace Engineering Department of the University of Stuttgart and Infineon Technologies as a long-standing cooperation partner.

The team in the electrical engineering laboratory is currently working on further exciting projects, which will certainly revolutionize both training simulations and the propulsion concepts of aircraft.

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