Over the next 20 years, air passenger volume worldwide is expected to nearly double, from 4 billion to 7.8 billion air passengers per year, according to the International Air Transport Association (IATA). With a global fleet of more than 25,000 commercial aircraft, nearly a thousand flight simulators are in use worldwide to train and certify pilots. Simulators train pilots in all aspects of the airplane from procedures and systems operation, to having the ability to deal with adverse weather conditions and other scenarios such as engine failures, smoke in the cockpit, and electronic or hydraulic equipment failures.
Training devices range from simple desktop programs to full flight simulators and everything in between. A full flight simulator accurately recreates aircraft flight and the flight environment. With each full flight simulator costing more than $10 million apiece, these are complex, sophisticated systems that can precisely replicate how aircraft fly, how they react to flight controls, and how the aircraft reacts to varying factors such as turbulence, wind shear, precipitation, and air density.
Since 1995, the Flight Simulator Engineering and Maintenance Committee (FSEMC) of ARINC Industry Activities has provided cost-effective solutions to simulator operations and maintenance problems through establishment of technical standards and a widely respected conference that brings together more than 300 flight simulator experts from around the world. The annual conference identifies technical solutions to engineering and maintenance issues, resulting in cost savings and increased efficiency for simulator users and operators.
Commercial airlines and other aircraft operators are eligible and encouraged to become FSEMC member organizations. Membership is also encouraged from non-airline operators of training centers, airframe manufacturers, flight simulator manufacturers, and other companies in the flight simulation industry.
The FSEMC was established from the beginning to benefit all of the major stakeholders in the industry. These benefits include:
“It does help prepare for costs knowing in advance what to expect and makes information available to assist when making a decision,” according to Mark Martin, Manager of Flight Simulator Tech Support at FedEx Express. FedEx currently operates 22 full flight simulators and 6 flight training devices (FTDs).
“An example would be whether to upgrade a system or continue with trying to maintain an aging unsupported system.” By leveraging his contacts at FSEMC, Mark was able to get a recommendation for a new vendor to upgrade the audio systems on his older flight simulators.
From the OEM perspective, FSEMC provides the company with a venue to interact with and support many customers, regulators, and other manufacturer representatives at one time. In addition, FSEMC working groups have provided Boeing with an opportunity to help develop standards and guidelines that are reasonable and beneficial to the aircraft industry and the company.
“The in-person interactions often provide clarity to issues, and hearing more than one customer voice similar concerns is beneficial,” according to John Anderson, Boeing Simulator Support Engineering.
John Muller of Muller Simulation has worked in nearly every aspect of the industry, including at a flight training center, training device manufacturer, major airline, and as an independent consultant, and has attended every meeting of the FSEMC Steering Committee since being elected in 2016, and nearly every annual conference over the past 24 years.
He is also planning to attend this year’s meeting. “From every conference there has come a lead to an important task and that has led to making money. So in the end, all of the FSEMC conferences I have attended have helped my company in some way, shape or form.”