Aircraft flight simulators need to realistic and that’s what EDM and Olsen Actuation’s joint development project has provided for pilots around the world.
EDM, the world’s leading supplier of training simulators to the civil aviation and defence markets.
Working under licence from ejection-seat specialists Martin Baker, EDM supplies replica cockpit training facilities for military jet users around the world. Recent multi-million pound sales of Hawk jets by BAE mean that typically 10% of the value is used for training and flight simulation equipment, an important component of the sale. Technology is always advancing and competition is fierce in the aerospace industry so when EDM needed advanced actuators for their latest G-Seats they came to Olsen.
The seats can be manufactured to various levels of functionality and fidelity, ranging from full fidelity Maintenance Trainers to partially functional seats for simulators. G-Seats are designed to enhance standard flight simulator seats and contain numerous dynamic modules to give the pilot real-time motion cues.
Piers Olsen, managing director of Olsen Actuation, explains: "Inside each ejector seat, there are five electric actuators supplied by us, along with five-axis interpolated motion controls systems based on Beckhoff Automation components over EtherCAT to servo amplifiers controlling the actuators.
The actuators in the seat pan simulate both heave and roll, as well as two increasing or decreasing strap tension to shoulders to stimulate positive and negative forces. There are also two in the back pad for simulating surge and sway, and one for moving seat height up and down and providing buffet cues to the pilot."
The simulator gives the pilot real time motion cues from the flight model, translated by Olsen's motion control system from the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) which gives the position setpoints for the actuators.
Olsen programs actuator position updates to demanding setpoints of 16.66 milliseconds, better than the average human brain's ability to recognise an update refresh rate of 25 milliseconds. Olsen’s actuators on the G-Seat rigs will be testing pilot skills in realistic flight and combat scenarios.
The cost of a simulated flight is a fraction of an actual flight but must be realistic for trainee and existing pilots. Olsen’s actuators are helping to achieve this.
Mick Bonney, Director – Sales and Business Development; “EDM has exhibited their complete G seat system in the US regularly and frequently receives very positive comments from experienced pilots on how realistic this latest generation simulation solution is.”
Beginning with 3 sales, EDM have come back to Olsen Actuation for more, culminating in a five-year exclusive contract.
EDM’s turnover increased by 65% in 2017 to over £24m, with profit levels soaring four-fold. 95% of the company’s turnover comes from exports which have all contributed to EDM’s recent business and export awards.