Thales Training and Simulation Centre, Crawley

Wedesday 22nd April 2009

Twenty members enjoyed an afternoon of ‘playing with the big boy’s toys’. This excellent visit started with a short introduction to Thales. Following this we were conducted around the small simulator test workshop where we were able to see a number of cheap (£1+million) simulators in various states of build and test.

From there, we were shown around the main factory areas where large-scale simulators for civil and military aeroplanes were being assembled and tested.

The computing power employed in these machines was phenomenal and the hydraulic systems employed to move the whole assembly to simulate motion were very complex

The highlight of the afternoon was for us to split into small groups to then experience a simulator for an Airbus in operation. Some of us had the opportunity to ‘pilot’ the simulator. The flight was supposed to represent the plane leaving the terminal building at Hong Kong airport, taxi out onto the runway, take off, circle around Hong Kong, and then returns to land again on the runway. The whole exercise was a simulation of night flying from the airport. The audio and visual effects were extremely convincing and realistic. Unfortunately the hydraulic movement system had failed, so we were unable to experience the motion simulation as well, but this did not detract from the overall experience.

Our guide took a number of photographs, but unfortunately we have not seen them due to a camera fault.

We are now looking forward to a further visit at some time in the future when the Thales factory at Crawley has relocated to new premises nearby.