System Integration & Control Systems Design


Tectra Automation resolves flight simulator challenges

October 2018 System Integration & Control Systems Design

Simex, a South African company specialising in the fabrication and upgrading of flight training devices like flight simulators, contracted Tectra Automation to upgrade software, supply new hardware, and adjust and convert a portion of the motion logic control across a number of flight simulators. The conversions, implemented for software compatibility purposes, pertain to the controls directing inflight aircraft angles, roll and pitch.

The simulators benefitting from the upgrades are the Embraer 120 and the King Air 200, 350 and 1900, located at Lanseria airport, and a generic twin-piston simulator, based on a Piper Seneca V, at Port Alfred airport in the Eastern Cape. All force-feel and control-loading equipment and componentry used for the simulator upgrades are Bosch Rexroth engineered.

Under-resourced componentry and a software upgrade

The Embraer 120, an FNPTII (flight navigation and procedures trainer) fixed-base simulator, which is used for imitation training and proficiency checks, experienced compatibility issues with the motor program and motion logic controller (MLC) device. As the components are Bosch Rexroth, Simex approached Tectra Automation in Johannesburg for assistance. The fault lay in under-resourced componentry (known as CML) for a program contained within the MLC, which Tectra Automation resolved by replacing the existing CML25 with a CML45 and adjusting the software programming.

Wiets Pretorius, electric drives and controls manager at Tectra Automaton, verified the fault, provided and installed the correct hardware and adjusted the software to ensure compatibility. Commissioning was conducted jointly by Simex and Tectra Automation, and subsequently reconstructed and approved by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA), the aviation industry regulator in South Africa. “All of this was completed within standard industry time expectations and to our exact requirements,” comments, Leon Postma, simulation engineer at Simex.

Based on the successful conclusion of the Embraer 120 project, Simex again contracted Tectra Automation, this time for two other simulator projects, both of which are ongoing. The Port Alfred-based generic twin-piston simulator had been upgraded with new motors and requires higher grade firmware and the King Air three-way simulator (200, 350 and 1900) involves work on its control loading.

The firmware upgrade for the twin-piston simulator however, proved to be incompatible with the PLC, leading to a PLC firmware upgrade. This entailed motor parameter checking and adaption to the motor programming to correct an inverted analog signal – both of which were conducted remotely.

Tectra Automation also supplied all the required Bosch Rexroth equipment and components for the control loading of the King Air 200, 350 and 1900 simulator, which can be adapted to duplicate the aeroplane cockpits of any of the three aircraft types through the use of interchangeable panels.

All Bosch Rexroth hardware has been delivered to site and Tectra Automation is on standby to assist with commissioning, once Simex has completed the installation. “For all of these projects, which first began in 2017, we have not experienced any unsolvable challenges subsequent to Tectra Automation’s involvement,” concludes Postma. “The service we have received exceeds even the high quality of the Bosch Rexroth equipment they represent, if one could draw a quality comparison.”

For more information contact Wiets Pretorius, Tectra Automation, +27 11 971 9400, wiets.pretorius@tectra.co.za, www.hytecgroup.co.za



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