Leading simulation systems integrator L-3 Link Simulation & Training’s Reality 7 flight simulators undergo a lot of shake, rattle and roll as they perform many dynamic movements during flight. However, they also must correctly simulate the experience of turbulence too. A trainee pilot shouldn’t be able to detect any extraneous noises other than the sound emanating from the speakers, and not the whole simulator rattling. Norco have worked with L-3 on a new design concept for the Reality 7 flight simulator. The original design brief was to keep the aesthetics as close to the existing design as possible and also engineer a cost structure with a tooling concept that is future-proof with other types of civil aircraft.
Following an extensive four-party collaborative design stage involving Engenuity, Rockwell Collins and L-3, the long-term contract to manufacture was awarded to Norco. Norco’s tooling for the system contains features essential for the multipart assembly. In total, the tool design with simple adjustments is suitable for three completely different types of field of view and caters for virtually any type of civil aircraft training requirement.
The simulator design was refined with Norco proposing build methods and materials, the engineer validating them and the CAD design team drawing up the surfaces. Tooling design was a key area where the builder submitted requests into Rockwell Collins CAD design team for key features essential for the assembly and alignment of all the parts. These included integral drill bushes in all mould tools and various steps and rebates in the tool to make lamination and post assembly hassle free. All the patterns were CNC cut at the MouldCAM facility, and the tooling was an Epoxy system from Sika, which has a high tg for use with prepreg.
The three primary structures that comprise the visual surfaces are the two piece plenum which eventually gets bonded at the centreline to form the large single piece mirror bowl. These are laminated using a medium, low temperature prepreg from SHD Composites and cured at 75°C in Norco’s large curing oven. The upper 20m2 hood canopy is produced using a combination of vacuum infusion and prepreg processes to optimise cost and weight.
“We’ve actually incorporated our experience of boat building methodologies into an aerospace product. This primarily entailed an understanding of low temperature curing out of autoclave prepreg processing for the primary structures, which are all ±2mm over 7m and very high quality tooling to ensure the accurate assembly and aesthetic external appearance of 14 composite elements that form the Norco manufactured shell structure.” Henry Nicholson Cole, Norco