Flight simulators are sizable investments and should last many years. Protecting that investment is an important consideration for the bottom line of any operator. We generally say a flight simulator should be expected to last ten years, or for 20,000 hours of use1, whichever comes first. Often though simulators fail before that point, and with the relatively high turnover in the industry2 your manufacture may no longer be around to fix it. Even if they are it may be cost prohibitive. NexGen Simulation offers full services for third party simulators. With prudent service, and if necessary some upgrading your existing flight simulators can be kept operational for years to come.
For most operators maintaining their simulator's regulatory certification level is a paramount concern when repairing or refurbishing any flight simulator. When beginning any repair it important to determine how the repair may impact that certification and to work within a plan for maintain the certification.
One of the biggest problems with legacy simulators is electronics failures. There are two routes for solving problems with failed legacy electronics; the first is to repair them, the second is to replace them. Repairing electronics in simulators produced by now defunct manufacturers can be fairly challenging as they often include proprietary electronics which are simply not available. However it's usually possible.
It's commonly assumed that fixing electronics is a fool's errand and that replacing them is the only suitable course of action. This might be true with a TV, but it's not always true with a simulator. There are common components that fail on circuit boards, and if the failed components can be located, they can usually be replaced3.
A classic example is "popped" capacitors. Capacitors are a common source of failure, and also generally fairly easy to replace. Another common problem is solder breakdown, often this can be fixed by simply re-flowing the PCB's solder in a board oven.
Sometimes electronics do need to be replaced, and in the case of legacy simulators this can be as simple as purchasing and installing a new part from the original manufacture. However often times the original manufacture no longer exists or has no replacement parts. They may also be unwilling to sell them because the simulator operator has no service contract. With failed electronics requiring replacement it may be possible to source replacement parts from other sources. Also it might be possible to replace them with parts which preform the same but are made by another vendor. This needs to be taken on a case by case basis.
Of course if a simulator is expected to operate in a busy environment such as commercial sim center which schedules operations 16 hours a day, it will need to be built for more use than that. The busiest simulators log over 5,500 of use per year. ↩
In terms of industries that make high dollar value products designed to last for a decade. ↩
Generally speaking proprietary integrated circuits can not be replaced without the cooperation of the original manufacture. Fortunately they're also very seldom the source of failures. ↩