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Aircraft flight Aerodynamics

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I fly the Q400 for a living, and the full motion sims we go to every year for recurrent definitely don't fly exactly like the airplane, but it's close enough that it doesn't matter.

Anything involving performance or numbers is dead-on for the real airplane, but the sims are noticeably more sensitive in pitch than the actual airplane, but that maybe takes me 5 minutes to get used to before I feel comfortable in the sim. 

Probably the biggest differences between the airplane and sim is in stuff that you "feel" in one way or another in the airplane, but they're still incredibly minor.

As an example, I can usually just feel if the airplane needs rudder trim, but that doesn't quite work in the sim, and there's some audio or "feel" cues (like the fact that you can feel the nose gear slam into the well when it retracts, and the audible "click" over the intercom when the DC generators kick on) that aren't as clear in the sim, but it's all stuff that requires a lot of time in the actual airplane to even notice missing in the sim.

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2 hours ago, ndts said:

but it's close enough that it doesn't matter.

I have spent countless hours in Level-D sims of the 737, 747 and A320 variants. I second ndts´ comments. Not exactly like the real thing, but close enough that you don´t notice after a few minutes. Don´t forget that real aircraft rarely "feel" exactly the same everytime you fly them. Minute differences in weight/balance, environment, seat position, etc. It all adds up.

Don´t forget that nowadays airline pilots are trained to land passenger airliners in these Level-D simulators! My first landing on the 747-400 was with a real airplane with real passengers (blissfully unaware of the event), and the same happened when I transferred to the A320.

The only time I had a real aircraft to practice landings with was on my first airliner, the 737 (spring 1996 in Paphos, Cyprus).

Cheers, Jan

 

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A really big difference in flying a real aeroplane as opposed to one in a PC desktop sim, is that in the real thing, you are not automatically focused on what matters, i.e. a screen in front of you. Instead you are sat in an environment where it is all going on around you, and you are really there, fidgeting in the seat, adjusting the straps with a buckle you just can't seem to get right, or finding the seat won't go to the perfect distance for you etc. Or, as I did once, pulling out the spring lock to adjust the rudder pedals with my head down on the footwell and having the lock spring back and nearly take my goddam finger off lol.

This could be a bit overwhelming if you've never done that before, but it does make things easier once you get past all that since you don't have to remember what key press it is to lower the flaps or arm the spoilers or whatever, you just grab the relevant handle and do it. Of course another difference is that it is easy to be a bit hotshot in a simulated aeroplane because you know you're not going to die if you @rse it up, although if you are at work (i.e. being given a check in a fancy level D simulator or some such), you're not going to want to come off like that to the operators and instructors who are watching you.

Most people who've flown real aeroplanes tend to 'fill in the missing bits' when flying a desktop PC sim and this is where experience helps to enhance stuff, but the fact is that if you are, for example, trying to judge that final turn toward the runway in a little aeroplane, or even a big one, in the real thing it's no problem to glance about, use your peripheral vision, maybe feel it's slipping a bit and put some more or less rudder on, etc to judge things, whereas in a sim you might have to pan your view or select another view so you can look at the turn and slip indicator to actually know if the thing is slipping or some such, and so it all starts getting a bit harder. This is of course why it is not quite as easy to land your sim aeroplane; you just don't have the same amount of feedback. Get the average person who can drive a car just fine and does so every day into a driving simulator or playing a car racing game on a PC, and they'll be all over the place, because it just isn't the same. but in fairness, the very nice visuals of MSFS are helping with this a bit and it is probably why people are saying it 'feels' more like really flying.

However, from a usable sensory standpoint, all of this means that you might conceivably make a PC-based flight sim feel more realistic from a feedback point of view, by having it not actually be exactly like the real thing in terms of how it depicts stuff. Having it be exactly like the real thing is fine for people who can fill in the gaps as a result of knowing the real things, but for some, this might not be an option. Personally, the more like the real thing it is in terms of behaviour, the happier I am, but we have to bear in mind that most people who fly MSFS have probably never been in the driving seat of the real thing, and so we have to be aware of this when people comment on the characteristics of any flight sim, as many people would probably want it to simulate the experience in a good fashion, as well as replicating the actual flight characteristics. So it's not the same as a level D simulator, where the engineers of such things are trying to make it as much like the real thing as they can, with varying degrees of success, but not worrying about if the cockpit view looks realistic, because it will basically be a real cockpit.

Edited by Chock
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11 hours ago, WestAir said:

Making a kids day by showing them the cockpit or blowing the train horn is one thing I wish simmers could experience.

This is exactly what got me hooked on aviation!

A cockpit tour at age 5 of a 727 during flight, those were other times 1976, en route to Disneyland.

To this day I remember more of those few minutes in the cockpit than anything at the amusement park!

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1 hour ago, Cmcollazo71 said:

A cockpit tour at age 5 of a 727 during flight, those were other times 1976, en route to Disneyland.

I really hate that we can´t have visitors to the cockpit during flight anymore - obviously I understand and abide, but I still hate it.

I make it a point - whenever we get an extensive ground waiting time, like waiting for our CTOT or de-icing slot - to get on the PA and invite all kids (and other interested folks) to visit us in the cockpit. Naturally the kids love that, and all the grown-ups go "awwww" - which makes the waiting time a bit more bearable, too 😉

 

Edited by Janov
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The real question is, will the algorithms invite kids to the cockpit once pilots get automated out of the cockpit? 😄

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MSFS FTW !!
Maybe a little tweaking of ground effect needed. 🙂

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It`s good to see that even Ex-Boeing pilots are contributing/working in the game. But, 

1) Why didn`t they have the idea from the start, coorporating with aeronautical engineers and pilots?

2) Who knows if they will implement the advices/testings/suggestions from experts right.

3) Knowing they had implemented some so-called "Spaghetti values" in the cfg files, it`s legitimate to question their future work.

4) Are they serious they still need feedback from users when they are working together with professionals, I mean come on.

The graph comparison in one of the latest thread in here about rudder and sideslip imlementation just shows the truth, wing flex and damping forces are catastrophical.  In the end, they have lots`s of professional stuff, its`s good for Flight Simulation users, but seen from the other perspective, MSFS now competes against X-Plane and P3D, while X-Plane beeing just a small 5 men development team.

 

19 minutes ago, tweekz said:

The real question is, will the algorithms invite kids to the cockpit once pilots get automated out of the cockpit? 😄

But automation is only going to happen with an Nvidia RTX Super TI Ultra and what so ever called. For your knowledge, pilots could have been banned from the 60`s, when CAT III ILS was introduced.

 

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1 hour ago, Janov said:

I really hate that we can´t have visitors to the cockpit during flight anymore - obviously I understand and abide, but I still hate it.

To this day I can close my eyes and can see out the the windshield of that 727 as we chased the sun westward as it sat and the kind flight engineer explaining what each of the crew did... all the dials, the wind noise and whirring of electronics... unforgettable!

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29 minutes ago, Cmcollazo71 said:

To this day I can close my eyes and can see out the the windshield of that 727 as we chased the sun westward as it sat and the kind flight engineer explaining what each of the crew did... all the dials, the wind noise and whirring of electronics... unforgettable!

At least with the trains I can ask permission from the OCC to keep my door open so kids can see out the front. 

Back when I went to ERAU PRC, I traveled home on Great Mistakes on the B1900D. I sat in the first seat and the crew kept the door open. It was my first taste of airline flying. God bless that crew!

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Rules of Wisdom:
Take-offs are optional, landings are mandatory.
The only time you have too much fuel is when you're on fire.
To make a small fortune in aviation you must start with an even larger fortune.

There's nothing less interesting than the runway behind you and the space above you.

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I did some very limited training in the sims, and yes feedback  was not like real aircraft. None of them had a full motion but all of them had real mockup cockpit. I have experienced only one level D sim so far and it was Antonov 124! Simulated hydraulic booster controls was nothing I have ever experienced before. Inercia, huge lag, tension were nothing I ever experienced before. Of course after few days of training I got to use to all of that staff. Yet old soviet vision of ergonomics and flows were absolutely foreign to me  starting from attitude indicator and ending with size of that gigantic yoke LOL

So yes no sim will ever be 100% stick and rudder feel from real life. Yet sim can be close to real life even with limitations and shortcomings. After all sims have proven their usefulness long time ago. However if you ever tried certified FAA sims like Frasca or Elite you woould never complain about MSFS ever again LOL

 

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flight sim addict, airplane owner, CFI

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Ahh, the good old Frasca sims... Did some flights in those during my instrument training some years ago. The school had three sims, two C172 with analog and glass cockpit, and ME one. I think it was based upon a Piper. It was by far the worst sims I’ve ever tried, including MSFS, X-Plane, P3D, and the Dash 8 Level-d sim I currently have the pleasure of visiting a couple times a year.

It was great for learning scanning techniques because you were gonna be all of the place if you didn’t constantly scan all the instruments. Look away for a few seconds, and you could very well be in a steep spiral. 
 

The level-d sim I currently use (Dash 8 100/300) is close to the real thing in some aspects, but I find it more difficult to fly compared to the real thing. I was a bit worried about landings after finishing my type rating, but found the real plane a lot easier to land (but it’s still a Dash so you never quite know how the landing is gonna be until you hit the tarmac...)


Marius S

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@noballer08 is on the right track. Most of my flying life was spent in old tail draggers and lightweight Experimental home-builts. The lighter you get, the closer you come to having the direct experience @noballer08 is defining. In these aircraft, when you move a control surface you get immediate push-back in the stick and/or rudder pedals. You become supremely aware of the ocean of air you are operating in. It has dynamic force (wind and currents), and friction, and resistance. It has a sense of physicality. As a stick-and-rudder flyer, these are the major factors that are lacking in ALL desktop simulations. And without some form of force feedback, these elements will always be missing. I'm not a programmer, and I can't say what the remedy for this missing aspect would be, but I do know that the flight models we currently experience are only remotely realistic. They all depend only upon visual elements. We can get a very minor "feel" or sense of feedback from the physical movements of our peripherals, but unless they all, at some point in the future, incorporate a dynamic force feedback mode, our sim experience will always pale in relation to the real thing. I do believe that some inclusion of the effects outlined by @noballer08 are necessary to advance aircraft behavior in this sim. I am enjoying MSFS, but it IS a rather hollow experience much of the time - in terms of actual aircraft operation. It make me thankful for the oftentimes stunning visuals.

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I know when flying in the Himalayas last week (some great freeware airports have been released) the turbulence took me by surprise.  I didn't believe it could be the airflow modelling at first but given the behavior quickly realized that it must be.  Amazing.  Please show me another simulator that has or does model airflow over the surface of the earth and its interaction with my aircraft.  Asobo have done what I would've believed impossible, taking PC simulation several giant steps closer to reality.  

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4 hours ago, badgenes said:

Please show me another simulator that has or does model airflow over the surface of the earth and its interaction with my aircraft.

Prepar3D can do that but have you got some extra £50 in your pocket? Warning in advance: it will take into account mountains only, and not trees, buildings etc

In brief, MSFS does the whole deal right out of the box when it comes to mechanical turbulence, without asking for an extra £50

6 hours ago, sd_flyer said:

if you ever tried certified FAA sims like Frasca or Elite you woould never complain about MSFS ever again LOL

What do you mean by this? 🤔

 

 

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1 hour ago, EvidencePlz said:

What do you mean by this? 🤔
 

 

 

I assume they're referring to the fact that some of the older "affordable" FAA certified sims have controls that are spectacularly sensitive, and the lack of useful control loading or realistic visuals makes them an absolute nightmare to fly, since they'll rapidly wander off an altitude or heading if you so much as think about looking at a chart or doing anything that isn't devoting 100% of your time to trying to keep the sim where it's supposed to be. 

When I interviewed for my current airline job, I had to do an evaluation in an old Frasca, and despite the fact that I could comfortably hold altitude within 50ft in an airplane and in the simulator my then-employer owned, I spent the entire evaluation chasing the heading and altitude while trying to fly an ILS, a VOR approach, and demonstrate holding, and I probably said "correcting" more than anything else during the 20 or 30 minutes the evaluation took.

 

Edited by ndts
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