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Come fly with me: new simulator opens at Imperial College London

External Sites:
-Field International
(Imperial College is not responsible for the content of these external internet sites)

For immediate release
Thursday 3 February 2005

A new flight simulator at Imperial College London is enabling students to fly their own designs for the planes of the future.

Using the MOTUS simulator, students can programme any aircraft design into a computer and then test how it would perform in all the conditions that a real aircraft might face. The simulator is one of only 22 of its kind in the world, the only one in the UK, and the only one in an Aeronautics department. Imperial's Rector, Sir Richard Sykes, took his first test flight today during a visit.

Students at the College have previously tested their project designs using computer models. However, many of the handling characteristics of an aircraft are so subtle that they can only be established through flying a model, actual or virtual.

Professor Mike Graham, from the College's Aeronautics department, says: "Everyone is very excited about the arrival of the simulator. There is nothing like real experience to bring home to a student the consequence of, for example, excessive 'dutch roll' in an aircraft, where the plane moves like a falling leaf, yawing and rolling."

The simulator's cockpit seats a pilot and co-pilot and is housed in an open, box-shaped structure lifted off the ground. It has all the controls and dials of a real aircraft. Where the cockpit in a real plane has windows, screens in the virtual model give the pilot a full view of the surroundings as the plane makes its way through the skies. The screens can recreate airports and terrain all over the world based on satellite pictures. The aircraft simulates the noise and movement of a real plane, from the wheels' vibrations on the runway before take-off, to descending through the air for landing.

A screen outside the cockpit enables observers to watch the aircraft making its way through the skies and to see how it behaves. Controllers can also alter the conditions in which the plane is flying. People in the cockpit can experience everything a real pilot might encounter, from turbulence to extreme weather. All data on the aircraft's performance is stored by the computer, meaning that flights can be replayed and analysed.

The simulator will enhance the experience of Aeronautics students at the College, many of whom already participate in a residential flight test course at Cranfield airfield. It can be used for pilot training and for a number of hours a month, the maker's agents, Field International, will be renting it out for private use.

Pictures of the MOTUS Simulator at Imperial College London are available.


For further information please contact:

Laura Gallagher
Imperial College London Press Office
Tel: +44 (0)20 7594 6712
Mobile: +44 (0)7803 886248

Notes to editors:

1. Further information about Fidelity Inc, the Pittsburg-based makers of the MOTUS simulator, can be found at

2. Field International (, Fidelity's partner in the UK and Europe, is a ground support equipment and simulator manufacturer for the aviation industry. Field is currently manufacturing under carriage installation and removal trolleys for the new A380 Airbus aircraft. For more information, contact Chris Allen at Field International on +44 (0)102 067 6331.

3. Consistently rated in the top three UK university institutions, Imperial College London is a world leading science-based university whose reputation for excellence in teaching and research attracts students (11,000) and staff (6,000) of the highest international quality.
Innovative research at the College explores the interface between science, medicine, engineering and management and delivers practical solutions that enhance the quality of life and the environment - underpinned by a dynamic enterprise culture.