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October 24, 2008

CAE 7000 Series Flight Simulator

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Jonathan Margolis, the "Technopolis" columnist for the Financial Times "How To Spend It" magazine, raved about his experience in one in his October 10, 2008 column, excerpts from which follow.

    CAE 7000 Series Flight Simulator

    It seems almost unbelievable, but British Airways has started allowing us non-Nigels (Nigel is airline slang for a BA pilot) to get our hands on its state-of-the-art £9m full-motion simulators [top] and make like airline captains. You can book anything from a one-hour to a three-hour flight at the controls of various Boeings. For this, you get a pre-flight briefing, flight instruction and a BA pilot to yourself for the duration of your "flight."

    I went along to BA's unrivalled simulator farm at Heathrow the other evening with my movie magnate son and we had the best time together since we went tank driving when he was at school. The simulators, made by the world leader in the field, CAE of Montreal, look from the outside like props from a "War of the Worlds"-type movie — huge robots on six scary legs shifting about comically like dads at a disco.

    Inside the machine the sensation is indistinguishable from real flying. The visual display alone will make your jaw drop .... But you really don't need to be able to fly to enjoy a session: in some ways it's quite easy. You have a yoke in your hand that controls the aircraft in all directions. As our pilot put it (and I'm sure this is what they tell you at Nigel school), "Pull back, houses get smaller, push forward, houses get bigger."

    Even an oaf like me was able to land after a few attempts without causing more than a million pounds' worth of damage to the undercarriage (I did hear what every pilot dreads, a robotic voice shouting, "Terrain, terrain," which is short for "You're flying into a mountain" but I did it deliberately).

    Even though you are piloting 200 tons of metal, the "control inputs" required are almost dainty. Unless you're part of the computer-games generation (my son thrashed me to the extent that he was asked to consider training) you tend to overdo each movement and then have to undo it, setting up a cycle that would more than spill the passengers' coffee.

    So, what if you fancy a simulator of your own? These aren't cheap computer games, but I can think of few better ways of escaping thoughts of everyday life and business than popping into the simulator to fly across the Atlantic. CAE can and will supply, fit and maintain a unit for a private individual....

....................

About £9,000,000 ($15,300,000; €11,350,000).

October 24, 2008 at 01:01 PM | Permalink


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