Olsen Actuation is keen to share its recent success of the joint development project with EDM, a leading global provider of training simulators. Beginning in May 2012, BAE Systems won a £2.5 billion order from the Royal Saudi Air Force for 22 new Hawk training jets and 75 Typhoon jets. Olsen Actuation was awarded the contract for three flight simulation systems as part of the deal. In December 2015 the Royal Saudi Air Force awarded a repeat contract worth £3 billion for BAE Hawk training jets, enhancing Olsen's prospects to provide three more simulator systems. BAE systems have sold more than 1000 Hawk training jets globally. Olsen has a five-year exclusive contract to supply gravity seat actuation systems to EDM.
And so to further flight simulator projects. How does the process typically unfold for Olsen Actuation?
For example, if BAE systems sells a number of Hawk fighter jets to a particular country for £300 million, approximately £30 million of the contract would include flight training. BAE would then subcontract the training to a flight simulation system provider, such as Canadian Aerospace Engineering (CAE), Rockwell Collins, Rockwell Collins, Thales, L3, Flight Safety or Lockheed Martin etc.
Flight simulators are typically housed in a purpose built facility usually containing three 8m projection domes, inside each of which is a replica of the Hawk cockpit with all its dials and instruments, fitted with a Martin Baker ejector seat for a realistic combat scenario.
Piers Olsen, managing director of Olsen Actuation, explains: "Inside each ejector seat, there are five electric actuators supplied by us, along with five-axis interpolated motion controls systems based on Beckhoff Automation components over EtherCAT to servo amplifiers controlling the actuators.
"There are two actuators in the seat pan for simulating both heave and roll, as well as for increasing or decreasing strap tension to shoulders to stimulate positive and negative forces. There are also two in the back pad for simulating surge and sway, and one for moving seat height up and down and providing buffet cues to the pilot."
The simulator gives the pilot real time motion cues from the flight model, translated by Olsen's motion control system based on the User Datagram Protocol (UDP) which gives the position setpoints for the actuators.
Olsen programs actuator position updates to demanding setpoints of 16.66 milliseconds, compared to the average human brain's ability to recognise an update refresh rate of 25 milliseconds, therefore providing as close a real-world experience as possible.
For the past two years EDM has exhibited their complete G seat system at ITSEC Orlando, Florida, frequently receiving very positive comments from experienced pilots on how realistic this latest generation simulation solution provides. Possibilities for G seats include BAE Systems Hawk Mk 127, Mk 128 T2, Mk 132, Mk 165, Mk200/203/205/208/209, T45 Goshawk, US Air Force A-10 Ground attach aircraft, maybe even in the future Eurofighter and F35B Lighting II / Joint strike fighter (JSF).
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