Do you have a flight simulator which is feeling a bit tired, or is functionally limited? It could be cosmetic issues, dated graphics, or limited capabilities, or an antiquated instructor operating station. Sometimes the best new flight simulator you can buy, is the one you already have.
Generally maintaining, or achieving a regulatory certification level is a primary concern when upgrading a flight simulator. When beginning any refurbish upgrade, or recertification process it's important to develop the plan of action with careful consideration of regulatory requirements.
Simply striving to maintain an existing certification may not always be the best goal when a higher standard may be obtained for only a marginal increase in expense. Or there may be a case for certifying to a lower level if the benefits of the higher level are not of significant value to the operator.
This means that when making choices about how to alter the simulator, what components to replace with what new parts and software changes one must consider the level of certification and how those changes will work with those needs. This requires an intimate knowledge of the regulatory standards, certification processes and the capabilities and limitations of the systems involved.
Some people have the attitude "It doesn't matter if it looks good as long as it works." However, a simulator that appears worn out, or antiquated will foster negative emotions in users which will reduce learning, and skills tranfer. For flight schools it's especially detrimental; what student wants to learn in something that doesn't look current. Our extensive background in fabrication and broad capabilities allow us economically upgrade the look of your simulator. This can include re-upholstery, paint or vinyl wraps, lighting, switch upgrades and of course careful cleaning which will not damage the electronics.
One of the most striking difference between today's high end professional flight simulators and older models is the visual systems (graphics and display hardware). It's not uncommon to be able to upgrade the visual system in a sim and make it feel totally new.
Display technology has improved dramatically over the last 10 years. With projectors and LCDs that are several times brighter, and which have orders of magnitude better contrast this can be provide a tremendous visual difference. Today's projects are available with LED and laser light sources which produce better color saturation, brighter pictures without sacrificing lifespan. Most of these new projectors have "bulbs" that are rated for 10–20,000 of hours of operational life.
Most General Aviation flight simulators are powered by one of three software packages1 which provide both the graphics engine and the the flight dynamics system. NexGen Simulation has experience working with all of them. The main areas to upgrade with the graphics system are:
- Graphics hardware (graphics cards, blending and warping hardware etc)
- Rendering engine software
- Digital assets
- Global scenery assets (generic buildings, trees, rivers etc)
- Global, and local area terrain resolution and textures (ground models)
- Specific location scenery assets (airport buildings, runways, etc.)
When upgrading graphics systems it's important to make sure that the software, it's configuration, digital assets, and graphics hardware are all working together smoothly. Simply upgrading the graphics card will not provide a better visual experience. Upgrading the digital assets without upgrading the hardware can easily lead to unacceptable performance degradation.
The three big ones are Lockheed Martin's Prepar3D, Microsoft's (now discontinued) Flight Simulator, or Laminar Research's X-Plane. ↩