The Royal Aeronautical Society and Boeing have been running a project called the ‘Falcon Initiative’ over 2016-17 as a sister project to the Schools-Build-A-Plane Challenge. The initiative was launched in April 2015, with 10 schools being selected to present design concepts in June 2016. This saw the selection of 2 finalists being awarded £5000 to develop their ideas for a flight simulator.
Ryburn Valley High School
Dene Magna School
The two schools chose very different approaches to their flight simulators.
RVHS chose to go the traditional route and use actuators to simulate aircraft movement. They were also lucky to get a PA-38 cockpit from the Sherburn Aero Club, which certainly helped to give the simulator an authentic feel. They also installed TV screens and a cover around the simulator to increase immersion levels. They used Arduinos to programme the actuators.
Dene Magna School chose a novel approach, using Pneumatic Air Muscles to simulate the movement. After completing their design phase, they came across a similar project by Middlesex University, who are in the process of developing a 6 DOF Motion Platform for roller coaster simulator. They are in partnership with Festo’s Didactic Group, who also helped source the required materials for Dene Magna’s simulator.
Festo Didactic Representative with Dene Magna teacher and Falcon Judge
The students went one step further by introducing Virtual Reality headsets, making the experience more immersive. A student was also responsible for programming scenery through custom built code, certainly an achievement at 15 years of age!
Dene Magna Simulator
Both the schools emphasised that not only did the project contribute to developing their practical skills, but also their project management, budgeting and other soft skills like team work, communication etc. The projects also helped to develop relationships between various year groups, which was beneficial to student development.
On the day, the simulators were unveiled to the judges and attendees who were given demonstrations of the simulators working. Both the schools still had remaining work to completely close the projects, due to unexpected circumstances and the exam season.
The students also presented on how they reached their current milestones, what they gained from the build and lessons learnt from the project.
In the afternoon, we were lucky enough to receive career presentations from Toby Mortimer-Price, Moog and Goodness Wondah, Jaguar Land Rover. They both highlighted the importance of technical and practical skills and project management skills to be successful as an engineer.
Goodness, Jaguar Land Rover
The students were then taken on a tour of RAF Cosford Museum’s vast collection of aircraft, which they thoroughly enjoyed. Last, but certainly not least, they all had the opportunity (teachers included) to have a flight in the SBAP aircraft, G-GWFT, which is now owned and operated by the Georgia Williams Trust.
Overall, this was a successful event that inspired the students to continue and finish their current simulators and potentially continue development for future students.
The Royal Aeronautical Society would like to thank all our judges, Festo Didactic Group, Moog, Jaguar Land Rover for all their help and support and the RAF Cosford Museum for hosting us.
All photos by Grant Archer.