Engineering Flight Simulation-A Revolution of Change 851901
JUST YESTERDAY, simulation tackled the issues of digital technology in a new generation of aircraft, but here we face another quantum leap as we look beyond the Boeing 757/767 model airplanes. The engineering simulator has evolved, over a period of 25 years, from a relatively modest beginning, to a sophisticated design tool essential to the development of new airplanes and weapons systems. The decisions involved in the management of simulation facilities has also evolved from choosing a modest “take-what-you-can-get” product line, to picking from warehouses full of “goodies,” all of which have their associated payoffs.
As a background, the authors will attempt to outline from personal experience and long-term history with engineering simulation, the steps that were taken to reach the present level of sophistication in engineering simulators at Boeing. Engineering flight simulators have assumed an increasingly crucial role in the development and testing of new product lines in the aviation industry. Significant flight operational cost savings have resulted from the new generation of digital systems, promoting airline fleet modernization. Both part-task and fully instrumented man-in-the-loop aircraft simulators are being used extensively for the development and integration testing of these new systems. Simulation has proven to be a high payoff tool with increasing recognition from a competitive airline industry. In other words, simulation has “come of age.”
From a present day technology base, we will attempt to look down the tunnel of the future and consider the demands of simulation for 1990 and beyond. An ever-increasing growth in computing requirements arises from the increasing sophistication of new airplane hardware and airborne software, and from a user community which demands ever-increasing fidelity. More models of software need to be incorporated into simulations; more and better data is being made available, all leading to more detailed simulations than ever before. In addition, the user community keeps expanding, which often leads to developing simulations never before attempted. All of this requires management to re-evaluate computing structure, configuration, and implementation into a mini, micro, multi, and/or concurrent processing world.
The arrival of the engineering workstation poses yet another challenge as many of the exclusive functions of the simulation programmer become accessible to the design engineer. This means developing adequate help systems, friendly user interface, and workstation integration into the real-time network. Artificial intelligence technology holds some promise for human interface issues, but systems available today are not sufficient to meet the needs. Last but not least, the demands of the future involve a global re-education of simulation software personnel toward Ada*, structured methodology, and “embedded” designs. Experience in the most prevalent simulation languages does not easily lend itself to this re-education process.
Engineering flight simulation - it spells out a revolution of change, technology forefronts of the future, and exciting challenges to those involved.