Power Supplies in Flight Simulator Design
The Flight Simulator Engineering and Maintenance Conference (FSEMC) in Tulsa, Oklahoma is one of the most prestigious conferences of its type within the engineering industry. At the most recent edition of the conference, 300 experts in flight simulators gathered together to discuss technical solutions to flight simulator engineering and maintenance issues.
Modern flight simulators are incredibly realistic, and a key component of training skilled pilots, and thus a critical attribute of any of any such system is that it works 24 hours a day, 365 days a year. Any downtime to flight simulators can be extremely costly, often resulting in crews waiting around and being paid to do nothing.
With this in mind, power electronics are central to flight simulator systems, their reliability being critical to avoiding downtime. Thus, power supply reliability must be achieved in the context of the numerous electrical and mechanical demands of flight simulator systems.
This entails a particularly robust power supply which is able to deal with high peak current loads caused by high inrush reactive loads from motor drives, servo hydraulic valves and computing and control systems. Additionally, such power supplies must be resistant to shock and vibration.
Usually, the development of electronic systems should take place over a short timescale, but the complexity of flight simulators ensures a product development cycle of several years. Therefore, the power supply systems involved must be available for years and years or even decades. It should also be noted as well that these simulators are deployed globally and as such must run reliably over wide input voltage ranges.
In addition to the development cycle, it is expected that flight simulator systems will last for many years without any maintenance issues. This is partly due to the logistical issues involved in developing them, and also due to cost demands related to the expense involved with operating flight simulators. This greatly influences both the sourcing and design of power supplies for the flight simulator industry.
Replacing power supplies with modular configurable power supplies can make sense for flight simulators. These can then be configured to generate any number of possible output currents and voltages. This can often be more affordable, owing to the advancement of the related technology in recent years.