Flight Simulator Component Manufacturing

We know that professional flight simulators can receive a lot of hard use and need to last for many years. If there's any one word that defines our simulator components, it's quality. We're committed to building the highest quality, most durable, flight simulator components available.

Our history is in manufacturing simulator components and we continue to service this market faithfully. Where as other manufacturers of complete simulators can be extremely hard to deal with and will only work on projects they know won't possibly ever impact their ability to sell a complete simulator, we don't select our clients by deciding who's a "small fry" and who's "not in our market".

We believe that the best path to growth in the simulator market doesn't come from thinking in terms of taking market share from other manufacturers but rather growing the market as a whole. With over 300,000 general aviation aircraft registered in the United States alone, the potential market is huge.

We have experience designing and manufacturing many different kinds of custom components. Controls, instruments, visual systems, and are confident we can not only provide you with cost effective source for your components, but parts of the highest quality built to last for many years.

It doesn't matter if you need just one, or one hundred we're willing to work with you to ensure your needs are met.

Cabs and Chassis

The cab is the component which contains the cockpit, it usually is styled to look like the aircraft the simulator is modeled after. The chassis provides the structure for everything is attached it.

Unlike an aircraft where weight is a primary concern, in a simulator it's durability. It's important that the chassis be strong enough to support everything to be attached to it, but it also needs to be able to stand up to years of loading as users climb in and out and shift in their seats. We prefer to build fully welded chassis from steel because it make them more durable and allows less shifting of the relationships between the components.

The appearance and shape of the cab helps contribute to the immersion of the simulator, and it's appeal to users. Simulators which look good excite users and create a positive expectation which improves the overall experience and retention of what is learned.

It's very common for cabs to be produced from molded thermoplastic, or fiberglass. Although both of these methods can produce excellent results frequently the cabs lack the rigidity to hold up to use. Over time door hinges sag, and the doors no longer latch. Windows come loose. Panels separate and rattle, and other unpleasant deterioration can be common.

When designing a cab it's important that it be able to take all of the loads it will be subjected to. This means engineering it with proper thicknesses, backing material, or support structures to handle all of the loads it will be subjected to. This will keep it looking good, and the doors latching.

Controls

Good quality controls should replicate the aircraft as closely as possible. This is important so that the muscle memory learned in the simulator can transfer to the real aircraft as easily as possible. This means the size, position, shape, material, range of motion, pivot points, and paths of travel should all be as close as possible.

Our manufacturing experience allows us to develop controls that not only work well but hold up well. Like the cabs mentioned above it can often be beneficial to over engineer the controls as weight isn't a consideration in a simulator.

As such our controls are generally made of steel and use oversize and over spec components. Why? Because simulators aren't used exactly the way same real airplanes, and don't get overhauled as often. One hall effect sensor in the cyclic of a helicopter flight simulator could easily experience an average of 2°/sec of motion. Over expected lifespan of the simulator that would be 400,000 revolutions, only it's more demanding than that because the collective will provide inputs which switch directions and thus force vectors frequently. Those sensors, and every other part must continue to operate for years without having to be replaced or adjusted in any frequent capacity. As a result we work very hard to design the very best components possible, and source components which are designed for continuous industrial operation.

Although one area in which our decades of manufacturing experience shows through is in our preference for polymer gears in our controls. Metal gears might seem like an obvious choice for durability, but polymer gears can be a a better choice overall. By using larger polymer gears we can reduce the overall rotations require and increase lifespan without increasing rotational inertia. Polymer gears also operate very smoothly, and quietly without any lubrication. Generally simulators are not as remotely as loud as real aircraft, and that means that all the little noises you wouldn't expect to hear can become obtrusive.

Instruments

There's a lot of choices in the instrument market. There's electromechanical gauges from dozens of manufactures, and pure software gauges from dozens more, and we can provide both kinds. We have proprietary gauge software which can produce full virtual gauges, and we can also produce electromechanical gauges. Our preference is to use software gauges integrated with physical controls and masking bezels. This allows us the reliability and configuration of software gauges, with the high fidelity controls of physical gauges. Our hybrid gauges use high resolution high contrast LCDs for the best possible representation, this avoids the "ghostly glowing black" effect present on many LCD gauges.

Complete Cockpits

We can produce complete high fidelity turn-key cockpits for your simulators. These includes our controls and instruments as well as the structure to provide the cockpit's shape and functions, the upholstery, supports, lighting, ventilation etc. As with everything else we make quality is of the utmost concern.

Visual systems

NexGen Simulation can build a wide range of visual systems, or visual system components for your flight simulators. Our fabrication experience allows us to produce flexible visuals which can accommodate various configurations without re engineering.

The most affordable displays are LCD mosaic displays. These are just commercial off the shelf LCDs mounted to provide a larger visual than one display alone could afford. We can produce a variety of LCD support structures which use standard panels up to 60" across to provide wrap around "walls" of displays. The primary advantage of LCD based displays is of course cost, however they also provide excellent contrast and picture quality. The primary drawbacks are the bezels can be intrusive and if running more than 3-5 large displays the power consumption can be an issue if the simulator must work off of a single 15 amp circuit.

The traditional "next step up" from such displays is the cylindrical wrap around display. The primary advantage being that they have no bezels and afford panoramic wrap around display. Producing cylindrical displays may require the use of special warping and blending systems which can add cost. Most manufacturers use cloth projection screens for their cylindrical displays, however we prefer to use an metal sheet construction when possible because it's easy to control the geometry and very durable. Soft fabric displays can be a nightmare to clean as they become dirty over time due to particulate in the air. Our coated metal screens can simply be wiped down with soap and water.

Beyond the cylindrical wrap around display is the spherical segment, or partial dome display. Front projected domed displays are not very common in General Aviation flight simulators, although they are used. While the visuals can be very impressive, the cost can be staggering. As an affordable alternative suitable for General Aviation flight simulators we offer an incredible CAVE style display which can provide visuals in excess of 200° x 80° without utilizing any expensive warping or blending systems, exotic materials, or special equipment. This system is offered in several configurations including a special design which provides excellent downward visibility for helicopter flight simulators.