With the final Qantas 747 departing Australia and British Airways announcing the retirement of their entire fleet, the Queen of the skies reign is sadly in its twilight.
But there is some good news on the horizon for those enthusiasts who would like to keep a piece of the Queen of the skies alive. Simulator Solutions are uniquely placed to help preserve the heart and soul of these beautiful aircraft – their cockpits. With the ability to acquire some of the few remaining 747 cockpits, Simulator Solutions can breathe life back into these shells and turn them into fully functioning flight simulators to live on for many years to come.
Simulators Solutions have been building 747 simulators for the last 20 years. Their SimStack hardware was specifically designed to bring old flight decks to life and is operating in dozens of aircraft simulators around the world. Turning a cockpit into a simulator is no small task and the results speak for themselves with a simulator that has the look, feel, smell and function of the real aircraft.
These 747-400 simulators are turnkey units complete with high definition wrap around visual systems and all the necessary computers. For added realism, a motion platform can also be included.
Unfortunately, as more of these beautiful aircraft are cut up, the number of viable cockpits reduces. Once they have all been scrapped, the opportunity to own one as a simulator will no longer be possible.
Befitting her status as the Queen of the skies, these simulators do come with a regal price tag. Anyone interested in owning a piece of royal history should contact Simulator Solutions for details about this unique opportunity.
In June 2020 Simulator Solutions delivered a fully refurbished AST-300 Synthetic Flight Trainer to a flying school in Tasmania. By replacing the old 1980’s hardware with our modern SimStack solution, we have ensured this classic unit will go on to train thousands more pilots in the art of Instrument Flying.
The AST-300 contains both gauges made specifically for the simulator as well as genuine Bendix/King parts such as the HSI and OBS. Through the flexibility of SimStack and our Synchro and Resolver interface, all the simulated and genuine gauges could be interfaced to the new simulator back-end.
By retaining these OEM parts, an authentic training experience can be provided to ensure pilots develop learned motor skills consistent with what they will experience in their training aircraft.
At the customers request, the old NAV/COM stack was removed and two replica Garmin GPS units were installed. This allows students to come to grips with these complex devices in an environment where they can safely press the ‘Pause’ button.
The scenery and customer selected flight model are supplied by Prepar3D, and a new touchscreen instructor station has been added, This provides the ability to control the weather, add malfunctions, reposition the aircraft and record the training session.
The simulator will be approved under CASA regulations as a “Category B Synthetic Flight Training Device” and can be used to log instrument training and recent experience requirements.
Whilst the project was completed earlier this year the delivery and installation was delayed by the global COVID-19 epidemic. However with the easing of restrictions in early June we were finally able to complete the installation and hand over the keys using the approved social distanced technique.
At the end of November, we had a visit from Dave Jones who runs the very successful EEVBlog on YouTube. Dave, who is an electrical engineer, was very interested in SimStack and our work turning cockpits into simulators.
Dave spent several hours filming the simulator project and then some more time interviewing Rod. He produced two videos about SimStack and the work that Simulator Solutions are doing to convert an ex United Airlines 747-400 cockpit into a simulator in Sydney, Australia.
The two videos can be viewed on YouTube – the links appear below:
Today the first new SimStack Low Current Motor Driver boards rolled off the production line, ready for our latest simulator project.
The SimStack Low Current Motor Driver board has been created to allow control of up to 8 small DC motors. This is a very flexible board that can find many different and innovative uses in any simulator.
Each motor can be controlled in both speed and direction as well as being commanded to freewheel and brake, depending on the requirements.
Some examples of how this new SimStack board can be used are listed below:
Operate small motors attached to gauges such as an altimeter or trim gauge
Control Air core motors (Sin & Cos), such as those found on car instrument clusters
Single direction resistive gauges, such as a temperature or pressure gauge
Bi-directional resistive gauges such as a turn or slip indicator
In September Simulator Solutions commissioned their latest 747-400 simulator built with genuine, unmodified panels and parts.
This simulator has been constructed over the past 18 months from former Cathay Pacific Boeing 747-400 B-HUF and has 32 SimStack interfaces that are used to connect:
OEM synchros and resolvers in throttles, controls and gauges
OEM Korry switches and annunciators
OEM ARINC 429 devices including RCPs, MCP and Transponder
Throttle motor drive and interlocks
OEM solenoids and stickshakers
Retrofitted OEM CDUs
Various other OEM controls, lamps, sensors and circuit breakers
The 6 display units featured on the flightdeck are a new product produced by Concord Aerospace who also sourced many of the OEM panels and instruments to complete the cockpit. Visuals are provided by Lockheed Martin Prepar3d v4 connected to three Optoma HD projectors, and the whole simulator is connected with over 5.5 kilometres of wire in 100 looms drawing approximately 70 amps of current at peak load across multiple DC and AC supply circuits.
The aircraft avionics and flight simulation is of course provided by Aerowinx Precision Simulator 10 (PSX), and additional free community tools are used to interface with Prepar3d and provide other addon services.
Originally retired in 2014 having accumulated 102,639 flight hours and an estimated 90,000,000 kilometres of travel, the flightdeck of B-HUF has now been restored to operational status to educate and entertain for many years ahead.
Simulator Solutions have developed the SimStack Distribution board to replace the highly successful SimStack Ground Board.
The SimStack Distribution board was developed as a result of feedback from customers who found they needed to aggregate more than just ground connections. This new board has four independent voltage busses, allowing greater flexibility when building wiring looms.
Over the last two weeks, Simulator Solutions have worked to bring a former Cathay Pacific 747-400 cockpit back to life as a simulator using SimStack and Genuine 747-400 parts.
Simulator Solutions created new wiring looms connected to SimStacks to support the genuine 747-400 parts. Once onsite we installed the wiring looms and mounted the SimStacks around the cockpit. We then installed the Overhead Panels, Main Instrument Panels and Centre Pedestal panels. In addition we installed a new DC Auto Throttle motor and connected the original Aircraft Control Synchros and Throttle Resolvers to SimStack cards.
In total, we installed 26 SimStacks, 4,000 metres of wire and used 1,200 new pins in 106 cannon connectors! There are 329 Digital Inputs, 31 Analog Inputs, 272 Outputs and 416 Ground connections in this project so far.
Below are some pictures taken during the installation project in Belgium.