I have a friend who’s an engineer and experienced pilot (Private, IFR, Commercial, CFI, CFII, MEI, and ATP with 5,000+ hours) and has recently built a full motion crosswind simulator. As you may know, crosswinds and gusts are some of the leading causes of accidents in general aviation airplanes. After several years of research and development, he has finally built the prototype and is looking for the best way to take this to market. I can give more details later, but wanted to see if anyone had any ideas on how to get the word out. I would also be interesetd in the value that you see here. He has received some interest from insurance companies, since they pay out on many, many, crosswind landing incidents! Thoughts?
Is this crosswind simulator some sort of electrical device or is it a seat attached to some aluminum tubing attached to a stick?
As far as the value? Without knowing the product how can we make a judgement? I can try!
I don’t think a simulator (such as the type we’re talking about here) can accurately recreate the effects of wind and the force/technique/savvy that one needs to get the plane on the centerline pointed roughly in the same direction as the runway. Yes, crosswind landings are tough, and they require a lot of practice to get to a level where it become second nature. That’s why we create limits for student pilots, and private pilots create their own limits. I don’t advocate a new student who’s learning to land taking a CFI up into 20kts direct crosswind without first practicing on 5kts, then maybe 8kts, 14kts and so on. Only then can they get a feel for whats going on. When I instructed I would take students up on windy days sometimes. It depends on the student and where they are in the training. It’s good experience to see what a windy day is like.
I agree, it’s tough for you to make an assumption or even comment without knowing all the details. I’m not an engineer so I can’t comment on the detailed techincal specs of how the simulator was put together and designed, although I can probably shed a bit of additional non-engineer insight. The sim has an electric motor to simulate roll and yaw and an electronic control box with bank angle calculator that very closely reflects that of a real plane. During his research he took different bank angles from actual airplanes (mainly single engine cessnas and pipers) in an effort to apply the appropriate bank angle for varying degrees of crosswind. From the control box, the instructor can control the amount of crosswind, frequency of gusts, and turbulence. The current model runs side to on a track manufactured specifically for this type of sim. There is also a seat with a control yoke and rudder pedals (just like the real thing) and hours of research have gone into the amount of control imput required for both the rudder pedals and ailerons in varying states of crosswind. I have a few hundred hours and I still enjoy flying this sim, which I believe works continually on muscle memory and coordination. Another nice feature is that it allows you to be in a continous crosswind setup for for landing. In the realy world this is limited to a very short time and in the sim you can be on final in a 15 knot crosswind indefinitely – allowing the instructor to spend additional time teaching and allowing the student the opportunity to work on aileron and rudder coordination. Other pilots have also commented on it’s ability to teach correct runway alignment (via visual feedback from the cowling and runway centerline) and the assertive use of the flight controls. I will touch base with him and ask him to comment as to the further “technical” details. A few things I can tell you is that this device has received glowing reviews from the Chairs of several University Aviation Departments and numerous pilots (from the newbie working on their private certificate to the seasoned ATP) and everyone comments about the authenticity of the feel and controls. Obviously, nothing beats the real thing, but it does a great job of preparing you for the real thing. If you have an email address I would be happy to send you some pics! Thanks again for the feedback.
One thought and most likely the bottom line question for everybody…
What’s the proposed cost of this beast?
Great question! After all the R & D work was done, the hard cost to manufacture the original prototype was around $20,000 and if the fabricator can produce several at once, he feels he can get the cost down to around $15,000 per sim. I believe this he has around $125,000 invested in the this project inlcuding Research, Development, Engineering, Fabrication, Installation, Patents, etc… From a pricing perspective, I think he forsees each sim selling in the 25k t0 30k range. I’ll see if I can post some of the images of the Sim for all to see.
Just wanted to make sure I was communicating the Xwind sim information correctly… So, here you go…
The Xwind sim does not simulate landing, which is pretty hard to do The pitch is fixed and it only simulates slipping just prior to landing. So, in the slip, this simulation is very accurate. In my opinion, the exact rformance of roll rate or yaw is not that important as long as it is pretty close. The Xwind sim is really teaching people the following:
- To assertively manage the aircraft bank angle to control drift
- To assertively manage the aircraft yaw for alignment
There are many other things learned in the process such as the affect of
induced roll and adverse yaw, the difficulty encountered when the wind is
unknown, and the forces on the body when this is done correctly.
If students get more proficient recognizing what needs to be done and
developing the instinct to react without thinking, that is what this sim
The number one problem that the builder has seen as an instructor is the fear of being assertive enough with the controls and the sim addresses that directly.