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Standing on the shoulders of giants


For newcomers into our industry the tasks of selecting, qualifying and operating a Flight Simulation Training Device (FSTD) can seem daunting. However, there is a vast amount of material available for assistance, much of it having been produced by people and companies in our industry on a voluntary basis. This week we take a quick walk through these sources and the documents they produce.

Flight Simulation Engineering and Maintenance Committee (FSEMC)

Originally part of the ARINC corporation the FSEMC is now part of the ARINC Industry Activities of the American SAE organisation. The FSEMC has been primarily known for its annual conference, the first of which was held in 1995. At the conferences operators and suppliers gather over three days to discuss engineering and maintenance issues on an industry wide basis. Of all the industry events this is the only one where it is predominantly, as it says on the tin, engineering and maintenance issues and as such is invaluable.

However, the FSEMC is much more than just the conference. Anyone familiar with aviation technology will be familiar with “Arinc Standards”. The FSEMC, through its subcommittees and working groups, has written and published a raft of ARINC standards covering all aspects of FSTD engineering and maintenance (we have attempted to list these at the end of this article). We thought we would just highlight two that have become seminal to our industry.

  • ARINC 610 – Guidance for Design of Aircraft Equipment and Software for use in Training Devices. This provides guidance to the aircraft manufacturers and their suppliers on how to ensure their equipment and software can operate in an FSTD and the simulator specific functions. Currently at revision C this has been kept up to date to cover modern aircraft.

  • ARINC 433 – Standard Measurements for Flight Simulation Quality. This is the industry reference on how to collect, interpret and analyse FSTD operational and performance data.

Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS)

Based in the United Kingdom the Royal Aeronautical Society is one of the oldest aviation societies in the world (formed in 1866!) and has branches in many countries across the world. Within the flight simulation arena they formed the Flight Simulation Group (FSG), this group organises regular conferences covering all aspects of simulation including operations in the civil, military and rotary wing fields.

At the outset of the development of objective FSTD evaluation criteria in the late 1980s and early 1990’s the FSG stepped up to the challenge to integrate the disparate national documents and enabled the formation of an International Working Group (IWG) that resulted in the society publishing the ‘International Standards for the Qualification of Airplane Flight Simulators’ which came to be transformed into the first edition of the ICAO 9625 ‘Manual of Criteria for the Qualification of Flight Simulation Training Devices’. We will look at the full story of the development of international standards in another blog.

One of the major contributions though has been the “Aeroplane Flight Simulation Training Device Evaluation Handbooks”, currently in it’s fourth edition it comes in two volumes (Volume 1 – Objective Testing and Volume 2 – Subjective Testing). The document is a must for any engineer involved in evaluating an FSTD giving practical guidance on how to develop and interpret a Qualification Test Guide (QTG).

Halldale Group

Amongst the organisations we are looking at in this blog this is the only purely commercial company but they play a pivotal role in the distribution of information in the industry. They are the publishers of the influential Commercial Aviation Training (CAT) magazine. Published six times a year this has become the main industry news source, it’s unusual that you don’t see a copy when you visit a training centre. They also publish the Military Simulation and Training (MS&T).

They are also the organisers of the very popular and useful World Aviation Training Summit (WATS), Asia Pacific Airline Training Symposium (APATS) and European Airline Training Symposium (EATS). These events, in normal times held annually, are a must attend for training centre managers, Heads of Training and Accountable managers. Whilst the FSEMC concentrates on engineering and maintenance the WATS/APATS/EATS events are more focused on training.

International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO)

ICAO is an international body, funded by 193 international governments, charged with air transport standardisation. We mentioned ICAO document 9625, Manual of Criteria for the Qualification of Flight Training Devices in the discussion on the RAeS. This document, currently at volume I edition 4 for fixed wing and Volume II edition 1 for rotary wing, is the output of the IWG and in process of being adopted by EASA.

The Regulators: “They’re out to trip us up”

We’ve heard this sentiment, normally from first time operators, but in our experience nothing could be further from the truth. Although charged with ensuring we, as an industry, comply with relevant legislation they are there to help. You will regularly see representatives attending conferences (FSEMC, WATS/EATS/APATS) and taking part in panel discussions. They also support regular consultation meetings (see below). In this blog we look at just two of the regulators but we stress that many of the other national regulators are equally helpful.

European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) – there are four principal documents that you need to be familiar with if you fall under EASA’s jurisdiction or desire EASA to qualify your device.

  • CS FSTD (A) – Certification Specifications for Aeroplane Flight Simulation Training Devices

  • Part ARA – Authority Requirements for Aircrew

  • Part ORA – Organisation Requirements for Aircrew

  • Part FCL – Flight Crew Licensing

All of these documents have recently been made available in the easy access format whereby for each section they state what the implementing rule is, give you details of an Acceptable Means of Compliance (AMC) and then give you plain language guidance on how to comply usually in Guidance Material. EASA also hosts the annual EASA FSTD Technical Group (EFTeG) meetings, these were proposed by FSEMC who manage them and allow operators to discuss regulation issues on an informal basis.

Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) – within the United States of America the FAA sets the standards. They do this via their National Simulator Program (NSP). On their website you will find a host of information and guidance, to highlight some;

  • New FSTD Sponsor Guide and Checklist

  • 14 CFR Part 60 (2016) – FSTD Initial and continuing qualification and use

  • Simulator Quality Management System (SQMS) guidelines

  • Sample SQMS Program

The FAA have really done a great job on their website and the information is easy to access, that said Part 60 itself can be a little daunting to read. Similar to the EFTeG in Europe the FAA supports the Simulator Technical Issues Group (STIG), again an excellent forum for assistance.

So, on the shoulders of giants

One of the most gratifying aspects of the flight simulation community is the way that people are willing to share knowledge and assist each other. Over the years we have had some truly inspiring role models, looking through a list of recipients of the industry awards bestowed by RAeS, FSEMC and Halldale is a humbling experience. The most striking thing is the truly international mix; these are the giants to whom we refer.

How can Sim Ops Help

The principals of Sim Ops are proud to have participated in many of the working groups and committees that have been instrumental in developing this plethora of information. We can also offer both individuals and companies tailored training on how these fit together and how they should be used.


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