FlightGear Preflight Simulator

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This sub-project aims to provide a simple computer-based simulation of performing a preflight, initially on a Cessna 172 aircraft, for use primarily by pilots and students.


Research has demonstrated that there is a big difference between pilots being able to describe and perform a full preflight of an aircraft and their ability to actually recognize problems when they are visible.

The Safety Competition event in San Diego County California is a good example. It repeatedly shows pilots scoring 100% on explaining and demonstrating a preflight of an airworthy aircraft. It also shows these same pilots scoring 20% (or less) on finding and reporting the flaws on an aircraft which each pilot already knows to be unairworthy.

This difference explains accident reports on the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) website http://www.ntsb.gov/aviation/ where pilots manage to take off despite major problems in their aircraft.


The simulator contains a large database of pairs of photos. In each pair, one photograph shows some problem that would generally recommend against a flight, while the other photograph in the pair shows exactly the same view with the problem fixed.

The program selects one pair for each section of the aircraft, such that the chosen subset is sufficient to be a complete inspection of one aircraft. In each pair, the photograph without the problem will be shown to the user. A command line parameter specifies the probability that the aircraft is going to be unsafe for flight, and a random number determines the outcome. If the aircraft is unsafe, a second random number selects one of the pairs and (for that pair only) the visible photograph is changed to the other one.

The user is given the chance to view the resulting set of photos in sequence, anticlockwise from the pilot side door, in compliance with Cessna's checklist for preflight in the Pilot's Operating Handbook.

Once the user has seen all the photos, the program asks whether the aircraft is safe for flight. The user's response is scored, accumulated and tracked over time to determine learning trends. If the response is incorrect, the program provides feedback to explain what the correct response should be.


Although the goal is to integrate the program into a full aviation simulation, such as the FGATD project, the standalone training purpose of the program can be effectively performed as a simple web site. This will also provide a mechanism for additional photos to be submitted, discussed and be immediately available for training purposes.


As soon as possible. However, it requires Aviation Maintenance Technicians (AMTs) and aircraft owners to take the time to photograph suitable problems.

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