I’ve just returned home from about 5 hours spent flying a 737-800 around Australia and NZ. It was, of course, a flight simulator – this time a fixed-base simulator that’s built around a collection of computers running MS Flight Simulator but with the “real thing” 737-800 cockpit with seats, controls, panels, the works. Three projectors drive the screens you watch from the inside and, aside from the lack of movement, it’s amazingly realistic.
Having been in a number of full motion sims, including the latest A330 sim that’s worth over $30 million, this one was extremely good and costs considerably less than that :)
The simulator belongs to Flight Experience here in Melbourne which is run by my friend Carlo. They’ve got the sim out at the QANTAS sim center near Essendon airport where it’s being tested and verified by the techs. Very soon now it will be relocating to its operational quarters somewhere in the CBD.
As a fixed base simulator it’s sufficient for procedures training and some level of official 737 training, thus it can be used by commercial pilots seeking their 737 endorsements to at least get a large part of the way there. This type of work represents about 5% of the market for Flight Experience as they’re targeting the general public, who can come in and see what it’s like to fly a jet airliner in and out of airports here in Australia. People can finally see what goes on behind that closed door up front, where they might get the odd tantalising glimpse of the “pointy end” :)
For tonight, Carlo and I were checking the unit out and having a lot of fun in the process, flying around Coolangatta & Brisbane, Christchurch, Melbourne and including some insane landings & take-off’s at Moorabbin. Fortunately, crashes were turned off, so we didn’t wind up splattered all over the virtual landscape as we probably should have (Moorabbin’s longest runways are somewhat smaller than those at Melbourne :)
All up it was great fun and I’d totally recommend having a session with Flight Experience when they’re up and running. I know I’ll be spending a few more hours in the unit when funds permit.