Simtech Aviation is home to five simulators, three full motion and two fixed based. In this blog we are looking at the real aircraft behind each simulator. The sims are used by a variety of airlines and for aviations cadets who are completing their MCC training, in the form of either an APS/MCC or MCC/JOC.
Simtech Aviation houses an A320 (FM), B737 (FB), XJ Generic 737 Classic (FB), Avro RJ146 (FM) and an ATR72-600 (FM) which is the latest addition to Simtech Aviation. In order to know the sim, it helps to know the history of the particular aircraft.
Since its first flight in 1987, the A320 family has become a short and medium-haul workhorse for airlines around the world. With the introduction of the next generation A320neo and A321neo, the aircraft can now add trans-Atlantic long-haul to its long repertoire of capabilities.
Airbus Industry was created on December 18, 1970, as a consortium between the French and German governments to build, develop, and sell the A300B medium range wide-bodyairliner.
The plane’s most significant innovation is the adoption of fly-by-wire, a technology traditionally reserved for high-performance fighter jets and the supersonic Concorde. Fly-by-wire uses computers to interpret and relay the pilot’s input to the plane’s control surfaces. This replaces the physical cables and pulleys used to control older aircraft.
The A320’s fly-by-wire technology was not only a way of improving flight controls and reducing weight. It enabled Airbus to take safety to a new level by introducing the flight envelope protection. Pilots flying the A320 were free to operate it as normal, but the flight envelope protection prevented the aircraft from performing manoeuvres outside its performance limits.
The A320 also ushered in the era of cockpit commonality for Airbus. This means Airbus intentionally designs all of its cockpits to look and feel similar in operation. Thus, making it easier for pilots to transition between different Airbus models.
In June 1981, Air France gave the A320 program an important vote of confidence when it announced an order for 25 of the yet-to-be-launched jet along with an option to buy 25 more.
The prototype A320 rolled out on February 14, 1987 and conducted its first flight a week later on February 22. After 1,200 accumulated hours during 530 test flights, the European Joint Aviation Authorities (JAA) certified the aircraft one year after rollout on February 26, 1988. Airbus delivered the first A320 to Air France on March 26, 1988.
We are now moving onto the ATR72 family.
The ATR 72 is one of a family of twin-turboprop passenger and freighter aircraft developed and manufactured by Avions de Transport Regional (ATR). The ATR 72-600 received the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) certification in May 2011.
The maiden flight of the ATR 72 was completed in October 1988 and the aircraft entered service in October 1989.
The aircraft is certified for low external noise performance according to FAR Part 36 and CH.3
The ATR navigation system is based on the Honeywell Trimble HT1000 global navigation satellite sensor (GNSS).The navigation system is capable of performing all functions associated with ‘great circle’ navigation. The 600 series is equipped with a Thales Avionics glass cockpit, new Pratt & Whitney 127M engine and light-emitting diodes (LEDs) lighting in the cabin.
The ATR 72-600 has a new avionics suite including the very latest in LCD screens and computer systems for navigational aids, flight data recording, automatic piloting and communications and entailing a better flight interface.
ATR aircraft have been chosen by some 200 companies in 100 countries around the world.
The 737 was the first 2 crew aircraft that Boeing had produced, all other aircraft had a flight engineer station which was necessary as early airliners had been more complex and less reliable.
While the initial design featured a T-tail like the 727 with engines mounted on the fuselage, the lead engineer put them on the wings instead, which meant the body could be widened to seat six people across. Thus, the 737-100 was born.
To finally determine if the aircraft was capable of safe 2 crew operation, a 737 was flown with an FAA pilot and a Boeing pilot over the busiest week of the year (Thanksgiving) in the busy Boston – Washington corridor in 1967.
They flew 40 sectors in 6 days, including approaches to minimums, go-arounds, diversions, simulated instrument failures and crew incapacitation. In December 1967 the FAA issued a statement declaring that “the aircraft can be safely flown with a minimum of two pilots.”
Even after the FAA statement, American, United and Western continued to operate with 3 pilots until 1982, while European airlines adapted a lot quicker to the 2-pilot crew.
The 737 launched with German airline Lufthansa, which ordered 21 of the planes in 1965. Several months later, US airline United ordered 40 of the new jets. However, it wanted a slightly longer version with extra capacity for a fast-growing US domestic market. Boeing stretched the body a little over six feet and named the longer version the 737-200.
While the early 737s were assembled and tested at Boeing Field — now the King County International Airport — it was moved to the company’s factory in Renton, Washington, in late 1970, where it remains today. In 1979, Boeing began development on the 737’s first major revamp, seeking to increase both the range and the capacity of the jet. The 737-300 was announced at 1981’s Farnborough Airshow, and first flew in 1984. It was almost 10 feet longer than the -200, and could carry up to 149 passengers.
In 1991, Boeing began working on another modernised update to the plane. The next-generation, or “737NG” series, was prompted by European plane-maker Airbus’ introduction of its A320 narrow-body family, which rivalled the 737’s dominance of the market.
Although the performance of the 737NG meant it was essentially a whole new aircraft family compared to the Classic, it kept enough important commonality with the Classic that upgrading or operating mixed fleets would be easier and more cost-effective for customers. The air frame received upgrades, the wing was redesign, and the flight deck and cabin were improved. This was an important factor as it dramatically kept the cost of training and type rating pilots to a minimum for airlines.
The 189-seat 737-800 came next, first flying in July 1997. In 1991 Boeing began developing a new generation of aircraft. The Boeing 737 NG Series (Next Generation) group of aircraft includes the Boeing 737 600, Boeing 737 700, Boeing 737 800 and Boeing 737 900. This was the most significant update to the Boeing 737 since it’s orgianl 737-100 model, resulting in an all-new aircraft performance-wise, but still retaining important commonality with previous versions.
The wing was redesigned with greater chord and updated air foil sections. The wingspan was increased by 4.9 metres (16 feet) giving a wing area increase of 25%. Coupled with the new CFM56-7B engines and increased fuel capacity the range was increased by 900NM to 3,000NM. Winglets were also offered.
The 737-800 had proven to be the most popular aircraft in the world, only until late 2019, when the A320 finally overtook its main competitor.
The AVRO RJ 146 one of the few four engine aircraft still operational in small numbers.
Designed for the regional and short-haul markets, the 146 was manufactured from 1983 until 2002. The aircraft was offered in three variants, the 146-100, 146-200 and 146-300.
In 1973, British aircraft maker Hawker Siddley launched a project to fill the gap that existed in the market between the turbo-props such as the Hawker Siddley HS-748 and the Fokker F-27 Friendship and the smaller jets such as the BAC-111 and the Boeing 737.
The project was launched with a 50% backing from the government with an understanding that the British government would take a cut from each aircraft produced.
The BAe 146 was designed to operate to regional destinations with short and rough runways. For this reason, the design favoured a high wing and T-tail. This configuration provided the aircraft with very good short field operating abilities. The wings and engines were higher off the ground so as to avoid damage from stones thrown up from rougher runways.
The engines did not have reverse thrust for the same reason, as this would cause dust and small stones to be thrown against the aircraft.
n June 1981, BAe took their first order for the BAe 146 from Líneas Aéreas Privadas Argentinas.
On 08 February 1983, the Certificate of Airworthiness was awarded. The first commercial service of the BAe 146 was flown in May 1983 by Dan-Air, a flight from London Gatwick (LGW) to Berne(BRN), Switzerland.
A year later, the first of 20 BAe 146s was delivered to Pacific Southwest Airlines(PSA). In January 1987, the BAe 146 was selected as the launch jet aircraft for London City Airport (LCY). Due to its short-field capabilities and quietness, it was the perfect choice for this task. It was at the time the only conventional jet aircraft that could use this airport.
In all, 387 BAe 146/Avro RJs were produced with the breakdown being 221 BAe 146s and 166 Avro RJs. The largest operator of the type was Swiss Global Airlines who retired their last RJ100 in August of 2017.
As recent as July 2019, there are still 94 aircraft in active service in the world, that being 30 BAe 146s and 64 Avro RJs. A number of these are fulfilling roles as private jets as well as firefighting roles as water and fire-retardant bombers.