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Concorde  The Concorde Simulator

Concorde Simulator History:

The Concorde simulator at FiltonAccess to the simulator was via a retractable bridge. The large hydraulic jacks that gave the sim its motion meant that the structure containing the cockpit and the projection system stood about 15 feet in the air. Once inside the simulator cockpit, pilots would immediately feel like they were on the flight deck of a real Concorde. The instrumentation, lighting and functionality of the systems matching their real-world counterparts. The simulator was operated by technicians who could program the system with artificial fuel and passenger loads, weather variations, determine whether it was day or night and also generate a myriad of aircraft system and hardware failures for the pilots to deal with. The technicians would also simulate Air Traffic Control. Every emergency procedure was practised to perfection. Single or double engine failure, pressurisation failure followed by emergency decent and failure of electrical signalling to the flying controls were typical examples of the sorts of procedures learnt.

Inside the Concorde simulator during BA operationsPilots said that 'flying' the simulator was extraordinarily realistic. The response to control movement was extremely accurate, all the instruments behaved as they would in the real aircraft and pre-recorded ambient and system noises played through speakers inside the sim added an extra bit of authenticity. Added to all this was the motion system which enabled the pilots inside to experience the usual sensations of flight - acceleration, turning, climbing and descending. Despite its accuracy and realism though, the Concorde simulator was not as advanced as today's more modern simulators and as such it was not 'zero-hour rated'. Zero-hour rated simulators allow converting pilots to carry out their first flight in the real aircraft while carrying passengers - albeit under the supervision of a highly experienced training Captain. Despite this, the Concorde simulator was still an extremely effective systems trainer. The simulator training course lasted a total of 76 hours (19 x 4-hour sessions) and over the 28 years the simulator was in service, 134 British Airways pilots and 57 flight engineers were trained on it.

The Concorde Simulator at Brooklands:

Inside the Concorde sim at BrooklandsIn January 2008 the simulator was moved into a newly refurbished room in a building next to Concorde Delta Golf and work got underway to rejoin the two halves and get the sim operational again. In June 2009 the simulator was officially opened to the public and it is now open for viewing, when operational constraints allow.

The project to get the sim operational again was a joint venture between the University of Surrey (UniS) and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC). It involved the integration of the existing simulator cockpit with modern flight simulation software. This was engineered by XPI Simulation Ltd, who are specialists in simulation software and hardware. The simulated environment is projected via 3 modern projectors onto a large screen in front of the cockpit windows and Concorde is 'flown' using the original flight controls and system controls inside the simulator. This includes the control columns, trim switches, rudder pedals, throttles, reheat switches, landing gear lever, parking brake and the nose and visor lever. The AFCS (Automatic Flight Control System - a.k.a. the autopilot) is also partially operational too. Alongside all this, many of the original cockpit instruments, such as the ADIs, ASIs, HSIs, VSIs, primary engine instruments, pressure altimeters and radio altimeters are also operational. As of the end of 2011, several sections of the flight engineers panel have now been brought back to life as well. This includes Concorde's complicated fuel control system.

Simulator Visual System Upgrade:

The Concorde sim's visual system ugradeOver several months during Spring and Summer 2013 the simulator underwent a major upgrade of the visual system. This actually involved refitting the original back projection screen and mirror that were fitted to the simulator when it was operational at Filton. These two large components were removed from the sim in 2003 and placed in storage at British Airways Flight Training facility at Heathrow airport, with a view to them being kept as spares for some of the airline's other simulators. Having deemed them to be surplus to requirements, BA offered the screen and mirror to Brooklands in 2011. In early 2012 they were transported to the museum.

Refitting the screen and mirror was both technically and logistically complex and took around 4 months to be completed by museum volunteers. It involved the partial dismantling of the simulator to remove the existing canvas projection screen and blackout frame, the relocation of all the computer and equipment racks and actually moving the simulator itself several feet to accommodate the large mirror. The back projection screen and mirror make up what is known as a collimated display. A collimated display gives the impression of being able to see into infinity and allows the projected images to appear the same to both pilots, eliminating distortion and parallax errors. The images are first projected on to the translucent back projection screen mounted above the cockpit and this image is reflected by the mirror in front of the cockpit windows. The mirror surface is not glass but actually a Mylar film which is drawn flat by a vacuum pump. Not only has the refitting of the original visual system greatly improved the view out of the cockpit windows, it has also returned the simulator to it's original operational configuration. See the links further down the page for photographs of the visual system upgrade.

Flying the Concorde Simulator:

Fancy the chance to fly the Concorde Simulator, with tuition from a real Concorde pilot? Brooklands Museum offers a limited number of special 'At the Controls of Concorde' events which can include up to 30 minutes actually flying the Concorde Simulator, plus a meal with a former British Airways Concorde Captain and a visit to the real Concorde cockpit on G-BBDG. The following two special packages are available.

To make a booking or check the latest prices and availability, please contact the museum directly on 01932 857381 ext. 237, or by email at flyconcorde@brooklandsmuseum.com.

Silver 'At The Controls' Package

Gold 'At The Controls' Package

The 'At The Controls' experiences are suitable for all abilities, whether you are a complete beginner or a professional pilot.

Please note that I have included the above details for information only and am personally unable to take bookings for the simulator experiences or offer advice on any booking related queries. Instead, please contact the museum directly using either of the contact methods mentioned above. Thanks.

To get an idea of what to expect during your time 'At The Controls' of the simulator, check out the following videos filmed during a 'Gold' experience with Captain Terry Henderson in the co-pilot's seat:

Simulator photos:

Simulator videos:

French simulator photos:

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