The SimStar is a R&D project of the AeroWorks team at the Brno University of Technology, Brno, Czech Republic.
SimStar is based on a cockpit section of a popular light aircraft Evektor SportStar. The development of SimStar's design was motivated by the research and development activities within the most active field of the domestic aeronautical industry.
The project started in December 2009, with the initial delivery of the first aircraft parts kindly provided by Evektor.
The SimStar project spans following disciplines:
The SimStar is a light aircraft simulator stationed at the Faculty of Information Technology, Brno University of Technology. It is based on the cockpit section of the Evektor SportStar aircraft. Compared to the original aircraft, the simulator's cockpit is equipped with a dual 12" touch screen data visualization system. The "smart screen" technology allows for a rapid visualization design changes and quick modifications of the display layout. This plays a critical role in the simulator's overall conceptual design. An instrument panel of a state of the art light aircraft (LSA, ULL) typically features a single "glass-cockpit" unit with a pack of backup analog instruments, commonly referred to as the "steam gauges". These provide the crew with basic flight state information in case the electronics of the flight display fails. In order to comply with the current perception of flight deck safety, an airspeed indicator and an altimeter have been used on the instrument panel to support the crew with a classical reference for the flight data readout. One of the principal concerns during the instrument panel design phase was to enable a hardware environment with large digital screens that would have the potential to evolve into a standardized interface combining different, currently functionally isolated, replaceable units (radio, GPS, round dial instruments).
The basic principle upon which the PFD has been composed is the clarity and readability of the depicted information. The flight display supports different modes of operation, ranging from traditional visualization of flight instruments, to enhanced synthetic vision concepts with a tunnel in the sky flight path symbols. All of the advanced tools have been implemented with a single vision - to provide the pilot with a concept of visual aids that would result into a safer flying.
Since the visual stimulation does not provide a sole source of flight status information, other perceptual channels needed to be included as well. A critical aspect of successful piloting of a light aircraft lies in the unique perception of haptic clues experienced by the pilot in flight. Therefore a cautious approach has been undertaken during the early stages of SimStar's conceptual design to correctly include this requirement into the system's overall architecture. The installed force-feedback system for the control stick and the rudder pedals provides the crew with a virtual link between the maneuvering state of the aircraft and the forces in its control system. The rudder pedal assembly has been equipped with a loading mechanism that generates pedal forces due to the control surface deflection. A similar design approach has been applied to the simulation of the stick forces. As part of the future research lies in the identification of operational fly-by-wire modes which would possibly eliminate the need for an active force feedback system and substitute it with smart visual clues, the loading mechanisms of SimStar can therefore be optionally disengaged or modified to provide variable dependences between the perceived loading and the control surface deflections.
In addition to the previously mentioned components, SimStar has been equipped with devices supporting a voice activated communication between the pilots or between the pilot and SimStar's operator. It not only provides for more realism, but helps to identify and prevent possible emergencies.
Simulator's principal multimedia platform features a planar 4m:3m projection screen and an audio system providing for enhanced authenticity during the simulated flight operations. For convenience, the simulator currently resides on a stable platform and an alternation to a 6DOF motion pad is envisioned as a part of the future upgrades. Modular design of simulator's hardware and software architecture allows for a direct integration or sharing of simulated system's flight models. By applying extension blocks, the simulator can be subsequently used for a hardware in the loop ground based simulations of experimental avionics. The simulator's architecture features a data recording platform, used to store the time histories of simulated flights, which are a valuable source of information for post-processing and debugging tasks.