NASA puts Logicon in the cockpit at Ames center

NASA has turned over the operation of the flight simulation facilities at the Ames
Research Center in Moffett Field, Calif., to Logicon Syscon Inc. under a six-year, $91
million contract.


Under the contract, awarded late last year, the Falls Church, Va., company is running
the simulation systems that support the center’s Crew-Vehicle Systems Research
Facility (CVSRF) and the Vertical Motion Simulator (VMS).


The Logicon contract began with a one-month phase-in period and has a base period of 23
months with two two-year options.


At CVSRF, the space agency studies aviation human factors and airspace operations to
improve the safety and efficiency of aircraft. The facility houses two flight simulators
and an air traffic control simulation system, said Barry T. Sullivan, its 747-400
simulation manager.


A single-processor IBM RS/6000 Model 580 server runs the Boeing Co. 747-400 simulator
of a United Airlines 747 airplane cockpit. Ames officials expected to upgrade the IBM
system to a Model 595, Sullivan said.


Six high-resolution, raster-based CRT displays simulate the 747’s electronic
flight displays.


The facility also uses an advanced-concepts simulator that depicts future flight
simulation. A Silicon Graphics Inc. Power Challenge server hosts the applications for the
simulator.


Most aviation accidents occur because of human error, Sullivan said. NASA built the
glass cockpit flight training simulator to find ways to avoid such errors.


“This tool lets researchers conduct studies that examine how crew members interact
with each other and how they interface with advanced automation concepts in the
ever-changing flight deck environment,” Sullivan said.


NASA uses VMS, the world’s largest motion-based simulator, primarily to study
helicopter flight and short take-offs and landings. The flight simulator lets the space
agency research controls, guidance, displays, automation and handling for existing and
future aircraft, said Julie Mikula, Ames Building 243 SimLab operational manager.


Three computer systems run VMS.


A Digital 1000 Model 233 server from Compaq Computer Corp. runs the math modeling
system that calculates aerodynamic equations for the vehicle. Image Generator 3000 and
Image Generator 4530 servers from Evans & Sutherland Computer Corp. of Salt Lake City
generate the out-the-window scenes.


“The beauty of the system is that any vehicle, aircraft or regular transport
vehicle could be simulated in our facility,” Mikula said. “We assemble the
high-fidelity visual scene with the cockpit created and the world’s largest
motion-based simulator to create an excellent research tool.” 


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