Flight Simulation & MS Flight Simulator ...
What is Flight Simulation
Flight Simulation is simulating an aircraft and its dynamics
and feel as far as possible through the use of computer systems and advanced
There are two kinds of flight simulation: professional flight simulation,
used for training flight crews, and personal flight simulation, used
by individuals for fun or out of interest.
Flight simulation is supposed to give the impression and feeling of
To achieve this, simulation software first of all tries
to simulate the aircraft gauges and instruments as realistically as possible
(often on realistic panels, but that's the hardware part..), and of course
the aircraft's surroundings such as airports, scenery, sees and other
aircraft, using complex 3D-technology. Often Air Traffic Control simulation
is also included in the software, simulating human intelligence and speak.
Flight Simulation is a highly effective tool for flight crew training
organisations. It is used by many pilot training facilities to educate
pilots, and train uncommon and/or dangerous situations, which would not
be safe in the real world.
Most of all, simulators save a lot of money: no aircraft, fuel,
airport and ATC costs, and you can go anywhere you want at anytime.
Professional simulators range from small (only a few normal computer
monitors), to very large. The latter are the ones used to train
airline pilots in the final stages of their flight training or to test
pilots' flying skills in periodical checkrides and training sessions.
These simulators often are the so-called Full Motion
Flight Simulators (FMFS). These are placed on multiple hydraulic cylinders
to enable motion in all possible directions. These simulators are extremely
expensive, and cost per flight hour on these things is very high as well.
Why is it so expensive? Because it requires many superfast computers,
because the cockpit is built using real world parts and looks exactly
the way it does in the real thing, because it used advanced software,
enabling practically all real world aircraft functions and simulating
all possible flight conditions, and finally because the visual system
is a 180-degree screen made out of one piece which provides an ultimate
view of the simulated surroundings.
Personal flight simulation is the other kind of flight simulation
as described above. It usually means simulating real world flight on
a personal computer for only one person.
Most popular probably is Microsoft's Flight Simulator series
(MSFS). This is well affordable and has excellent capabilities.
Many people use personal flight simulation software for fun and as a
hobby. However, many real world pilots use it too, to practice certain
skills (such as radio navigation or FMS programming), so as a professional
simulator in a way. (see next section for more)
MS Flight Simulator is very popular worldwide for many years. There's
other software too, such as X-plane (which is free, but very good).
Aspects of personal FS software in general include:
- cockpit displays, instruments, interior, co-pilot
interior, cabin, passengers
- aircraft exterior, control surfaces, flaps, lights,
- aircraft feeling, flight dynamics, V-speeds and other settings/limits
- sound of engines, cockpit, interior, environment (different sounds
- airports, runways, taxiways, parkings, gates, terminals, control towers
- scenery, cities, landmarks, night lighting
- weather, clouds, winds, precipitation, fog, pressure,
Who uses MSFS ?
Like also explained on the online flying page,
many people from many countries worldwide and as many cultures,
and also of all ages use MS Flight Simulator or other personal flight
simulation software. Aviation enthusiasts, other non-pilots, pilots,
and future pilots.
It's simply fun and entertaining, and demands a certain level of mental
effort to fly aircraft as if it were for real. Hasn't flying always been
a dream of man..?
Many people don't like it when FS software is called a 'game'. Many
virtual pilots take flight simulation very seriously and know a lot about
real world aircraft systems and all kinds of procedures.
Completing a flight succesfully always gives a feeling of
"great job again"!
How seriously you take a (virtual) flight, is completely up to you.
It can be satisfying to simulate an airline flight as far as possible
(online with others), fun doing things not really possible or
not allowed in the real
nice distant views.
If you haven't used FS yet and want to start, getting started is easy!
You'll need a good computer with speakers, recent FS software & a yoke
or joystick... then you will be up in the air in minutes!
The Future of
As technology keeps improving, computers keep getting faster and flight
simulation capabilities and possibilities
This part is about personal FS, since professional FS is already very
Flight simulation will always attempt to get
closer to 'the real thing', to provide both real world and virtual
pilots the best possible
sensation of real flight.
Like everything else, scenery simulation also becomes more advanced.
Some time we may see (live) real world scenery simulation, and also live
world air traffic simulation.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is still developing and expectations on
this area are high. AI enables human intelligent features, such as air
traffic control (a complex task).
Larger networks than we have now are to appear, so people from around
the world can fly in one shared airspace, live, with extreme accuracy.
Which large improvements are wanted? The graphics are pretty excellent,
and will only get better. Two major improvements to personal flight simulation
aren't really to be made to the software, but to the
hardware/ the real environment.
One thing that personal flight simulation really lacks is obviously
movement. However, this is not really a job for software developers,
but for FS hardware developers. Real(istic) motion for personal FS will
no doubt be realized some
time in the future.
Motion, and furthermore the visual part are things that still make you
feel like you're on the ground, instead of up in the air. Solutions to
this will be developed in the future, but it always takes time before
new developments become affordable.
It's always a great thing to think ahead, of what will come... still
it is wiser not to, because it makes current FS technology
look terrible and (near) future improvements very
far away... ;-)
Happy flights !!!
Of course, we welcome your comments on this text!
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