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byproduct of all those circuit cards was heat. Unfortunately, heat remains the enemy of computer circuits. To mitigate heat, cooling and dehumidifying the air ensured the processors were able to oper- ate at peak capability and speed. With newer and faster processors, the need for board mounted processing power com- bined with room filling cabinets is a thing of the past. Modern simulators can be controlled by a single commercial off the shelf (COTS) desktop processor and a few terabytes of hard disk storage. Virtual environments can be added by simply swapping a hard drive with the new database. We no longer require the large computer rooms, or additional nuclear power plants. We also no longer need teams of computer software engi- neers.

For the training provider, these

savings ultimately boil down to a better income to expense ratio. Advanced modern processors have

also improved the virtual world the pilot sees out the window. Helicopter pilots need accurate, high-resolution three dimensional models to train for mis-

sions they are expected to accomplish. Long gone are the days of huge terrain boards populated with miniature trees, cars, airports, and the occasional insect fixed to the board by a technician with a skewed sense of humor. Engineers are now able to create life like models and environments that were not possible even 10 years ago. New image genera- tors (IG) are capable of producing from 75,000 to over 100,000 polygons per channel (that is a lot) and over 2 million pixels (also a lot). CAE’s Tropos™6400 and FlightSafety’s VITAL X are two examples of next generation IG’s for their respective commercial simulators. Helicopter visual models routinely use 1 foot resolution imagery data, but can also use resolutions down to ¼ inch for texture rich scenes (blowing grass, tree leaves, snow etc.).

imagery is sufficient to meet most of the detail requirements for in-flight situa- tions. This level of detail allows pilots to train “virtually” at any airport in the world without actually going there. Models of LAX or JFK, for example,

can be used to provide specialty training for operators in those regions. Off-shore oil platforms and ships are now being created with exact detail further enhanc- ing the experience of the pilots who will be flying to those rigs soon after leaving the safety and security of the simulator. Until very recently, the texture rich detail found in nature hasn’t been ade- quately recreated in the current visual models. The basic visual models are very good in most respects, but the RW pilot is hampered by the limited resolu- tion and inadequate luminance levels in the “out the window” display. Instructors often use valuable time

1 meter scaled

during the first simulator session to train the clients how to handle the sim- ulator specific issues and limitations. In other words, instructors must teach the client how to fly “the box” before teach- ing them how to fly the aircraft it repre- sents. This creates an unnaturally long training process that can have negative consequences in the form of lack of con- fidence for the pilot and concerns of expense for the operator.

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