A Boeing or Airbus simulator?
Simquip.com presents an interesting tutorial on advantages and disadvantages of chosing a Airbus or Boeing Simulator. This one of the most important and difficult decisions a simulator builder has to make very early in the construction. Some tips and guidance from Simquip.
If you are planning to build something other than an Airbus or Boeing simulator then forget this page
Most of the amateur simulator constructions worldwide fall into a 2 manufacturer slot. They are either Boeings or Airbuses. Most Hobbyists want to fly a big metal airliner rather than a light aircraft. To narrow it down even more most people want to fly an Airbus A320 or a B737. There is a reason that these choices are so distinct. Combined the A320 and B737-xxx represent most of the airliners operating worldwide. Their popularity has lead to a proliferation in software add ons and hardware devices.
If you are a Boeing fan, then its pointless trying to show you the Airbus way. Its the same argument as a Mac user trying to convert a PC user. What you should never forget is that both have distinct advantages and disadvantages. At the end of the day, its going to be up to you to choose what aircraft is the basis of your project.
The Boeing aircraft, in particular the B737-NG (600,700,800 and 900 series) has a huge user base. By this I mean that there are many people constructing B737 simulators. Many people equals many minds devising ways to make their simulators work the way they should.With over 6,000 B737s produced there is an abundant supply of second-hand 737 parts. Just do a quick search of ebay to see whats available. There are also a lot of vendors producing 737 and A320 parts for the sim market, some products are good, while some just dont cut it. If you need 737 help, there is a lot of it out there.
Another distinct advantage of the B737 is that its structural lineage goes back to the B707. In other words the flightdeck shell on the latest B737-900 is virtually identical as the structure on the original 707. This means that if you are brave enough to base your simulator on a B737,727,707 nose section, then you will have a dimensionally correct flightdeck.
Because of its legacy extending back to the B707, the B737 is a mechanically complex and demanding aircraft to simulate. Much of the mechanisms and devices in the throttle stand and flight controls are the same as on the 707. There is no doubt that the mechanical systems on the 737 are robust and designed for a 40 year lifespan of constant use. Just the throttle stand on the B737 is a nightmare to pull apart and reassemble let alone adapt it for simulation use. This is why many constructors choose to build their throttle stand from scratch. This mechanical complexity extends to almost all Boeing aircraft. Another disadvantage of Boeing construction is the extensive use of 'Korry Lights' around the flightdeck. Please read this article on flightdeck indicators.
The A320 family of aircraft was launched more than 20 years after the B737. Airbus then had the distinct advantage of understanding "how not to do it" or how to do it much better. Part of this plan was to eliminate a large and cumbersome flight control system and replace it with a joystick. For the simulator constructor, this means not having to access and install a huge, heavy linked control system. Aircraft control systems are expensive and hard to access, whereas a reasonable high fidelity joystick can almost be purchased at the local corner store. It wasnt always the case, but Airbus specific software is now readily available.
Most Airbus flightdecks have high levels of automation and incorporate many automatic systems. For the constructor, this means fewer buttons, levers and devices required to build a system. It also means that some systems are represented in software rather than hardware, which is often a considerably cheaper way to go.
For the Airbus constructor, there are not many disadvantages. Generally there is less OEM hardware readily available. There tend to be less "experts" available to help you out with Airbus problems. Although the A320 is gaining momentum as one of the top choices in simulator construction.
Having worked with the B737 since 1997 we are pretty familiar with its failings and idiosyncrasies when it comes to simulator construction. Knowing what we know now, we would have no problem in selecting the A320 as our choice of simulator construction. Having said this, its all about Mac versus PC. If you are a Boeing person, dont build an Airbus if your heart is just not in it and says 'Boeing'.As once said on a t-shirt "If it aint Boeing, I aint going".
Contributed by: SIMQUIP