ST Engineering Antycip Delivers ONERA’s State-of-the-art New Flight Simulator
The French aerospace lab’s new flight simulator brings together the latest technologies including 3D capabilities, separate and dynamic POV for pilot and co-pilot, and head and hand tracking.
Paris (France), 1st July 2021 – ONERA, through its Cognitive Engineering and Applied Neuroscience unit (ICNA) based at the Salon-de-Provence Air Base (BA 701), conducts cognitive engineering activities for the development of new Human/System Interaction (HSI) concepts for managing complex systems or operations.
The study of human-system interactions necessarily involves putting the human operator in realistic conditions. For many reasons, both scientific (need to perfectly control all the variables) and practical (such as cost economy and safety), simulation is an essential means to put the human operator in this situation. Therefore, these studies rely on the ability to simulate the real world, prototype innovative interaction modes, and characterise the impact of these new interaction modes on the performance of the human-machine couple.
To meet the requirements of these various studies, ONERA decided to install a flight simulator incorporating a research cockpit for large aircraft such as the Airbus A320 or A350, to immerse the human operator in an environment as close as possible to the real thing, which necessarily involves the visual.
When ONERA wrote the technical specifications for the projection system, they realised that they would have to work with a company specialised in the world of simulation. This company would have to provide a simulator capable of meeting high requirements, such as a large cylindrical screen, a 4K resolution with 3D capabilities, a dynamic viewpoint for the pilot and co-pilot, a head-tracking system, a motorised day or night mode, and automatic calibration software. All of this must of course be configurable through an intuitive web interface.
ST Engineering Antycip won the tender with a budget-friendly offer that would allow the installation team to meet their high requirements, all to a relatively tight deadline.
“We only had 13 weeks from validation to delivery,” said Quentin Blancheri, ST Engineering Antycip’s key account manager. “This was made possible thanks to the relationships ST Engineering Antycip has with other manufacturers like Barco, as well as our expertise in optical blending, which meant the team went onsite already knowing where to place projectors down to the millimetre. Rigging projectors with extreme precision is usually rather time-consuming, but the team planned well and anticipated ONERA’s needs enough to order the perfect gear.”
The brand new simulator – SCHEMAX – includes a bespoke 5m long x 2.7m high cylindrical composite screen, which was delivered in six separate panels and built on site. With a field of view of 220 x 45 degrees, the bespoke screen is powered by three Barco FL40 projectors, which are designed from the ground up to handle the simulation environment’s most rigorous training requirements. The team also selected auto-calibration blending and warping, and for night-time simulation, integrated optical blending, tracking, and active 3D glasses.
“To anticipate any issues with black levels, and to further enhance the feeling of immersion, we suggested painting all of the walls in black before installation,” said Blancheri.
ONERA provided the cockpit and the PC Suite, though ST Engineering Antycip suggested the right computer specs for the job. The content, which also comes from ONERA, is fed via display port (two PCs per projector) and viewed using VR Vantage.
“There were also some very specific constraints about the surroundings,” said Blancheri. “There are military jets that regularly fly above and there is a quarry nearby with regular explosions, so it was important to make sure everything was properly rigged and that there was an auto-calibration or scalable display that could be called up at the touch of a button.
“We selected ST Engineering Antycip because their technical offer met all of our requirements within the budget we had set. We are fully satisfied with the work done by ST Engineering Antycip, and the result exceeded our expectations. ONERA’s new SCHEMAX simulator now has a professional projection system allowing us to put the pilot and co-pilot in an immersive and realistic visual environment,” said Gregory Bonin, research engineer at ONERA, in charge of the programme.
ST Engineering Antycip’s France and Spain director, Johan Besnainou, concluded: “The SCHEMAX simulator built for ONERA was one with so many functionalities, and it was yet another successful strategic project for us. We hope that the SCHEMAX project will be a long-term one to allow us to continue our great working relationship with ONERA and pledge our ongoing support.”
Photos courtesy of ONERA
Since 1996, ST Engineering Antycip (formerly Antycip Simulation) has supported customers across the globe, in defence, academia, commerce and industry, to become better at what they do. As an expert provider of simulation, analysis, modelling, display and virtual reality solutions, ST Engineering Antycip combines its in-house technical expertise with an unrivalled range of products from software and hardware providers. ST Engineering Antycip is a subsidiary of ST Engineering. For more information, visit https://steantycip.com.
ONERA is the French national laboratory for aeronautics and space R&T, staffed by 2000 people. Under the supervision of the French Ministry of Armed Forces, ONERA has an annual budget of 234 million euros, of which more than half comes from commercial contracts. As the French expert in aerospace technologies, ONERA prepares tomorrow’s defenses, meets the aerospace challenges of the future, and contributes to the competitiveness of the European aerospace industry. ONERA masters all the disciplines and technologies in its aerospace fields. All major civil and military aerospace programs in France and Europe contain „DNA“ from ONERA: Ariane, Airbus, Falcon, Rafale, missiles, helicopters, engines, radars, etc.