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Applications for the Simulator

We have a wide range of people interested and participating in this project. This is truly a global effort with contributors from just about every continent. Interests range from building a realistic home simulator out old airplane parts, to university research and instructional use, to simply having a viable alternative to commercial PC simulators.

The Aberystwyth Lighter Than Air Intelligent Robot (ALTAIR)

The Intelligent Robotics Group at the University of Wales, Aberystwyth, UK is using FlightGear as part of their aerobot research[11] to design aerial vehicles that can operate in the atmosphere of other planets.

For those planets and moons that support an atmosphere (e.g. Mars, Venus, Titan and Jupiter), flying robots, or aerobots, are likely to provide a practical solution to the problem of extended planetary surface coverage for terrain mapping and surface/subsurface composition surveying. Not only could such devices be used for suborbital mapping of terrain regions, but they could be used to transport and deploy science packages or even microrovers at different geographically separate landing sites.

The technological challenges posed by planetary aerobots are significant. To investigate this problem the group is building a virtual environment to simulate autonomous aerobot flight.

The NaSt3DGP computational fluid dynamics (CFD) software package generates meteorological conditions, which are 'loaded' into the FlightGear simulator to create realistic wind effects acting upon an aerobot when flying over a given terrain. The terrain model used by both FlightGear and NaSt3DGP is obtained from the MGS Mars Orbiter Laser Altimeter (MOLA) instrument, and the Mars Climate Database (MCD) is used to initialize the CFD simulation.

University of Tennessee at Chattanooga

UTC has been using Flightgear as the basis of a research project started in August, 2001, with the goal of providing the Challenger Center at the university (and hopefully other centers in the future) a low cost virtual reality computer simulation.

The project is using flightgear and JSBSim, specifically the shuttle module, to develop a shuttle landing simulator. They are aiming to contribute instructions, on how to interface their virtual reality hardware with Flightgear, back to the OS community. The project is funded by the Wolf Aviation Foundation[12]. Dr. Andy Novobiliski is heading the research project.


Todd Moyer of ARINC used FlightGear as part of an effort to test and evaluate Flight Management Computer avionics and the corresponding ground systems. Certain capabilities of the Flight Management Computer are only available when airborne, which is determined by the FMC according to data it receives from GPS and INS sensors.

They wrote additional software that translates the NMEA output of FlightGear (including latitude, longitude, and altitude) into the ARINC 429 data words used by GPS and INS sensors. These data words are fed to the Flight Management Computer. the position information from FlightGear is realistic enough to convince the FMC that it is actually airborne, and allows ARINC to test entire `flights' with the avionics.


Marcus Bauer and others worked on a simulator cockpit environment using FlightGear as the software engine to drive a real cockpit, including three cockpit computers.

Space Island

Space Island[13] Space Island are using FlightGear as the software for a moving cockpit entertainment simulator that supports both flight and space environments.

Other applications

Many applications started using FlightGear years ago:
  1. University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. FlightGear is providing a platform for icing research for the Smart Icing Systems Project[14].
  2. Simon Fraser University, British Columbia Canada. Portions of FlightGear were used in simulation to develop the needed control algorithms for an autonomous aerial vehicle.
  3. Iowa State University. A senior project intended to retrofit some older sim hardware with FlightGear based software.
  4. University of Minnesota - Human Factors Research Lab. FlightGear brings new life to an old Agwagon single seat, single engine simulator.
  5. Aeronautical Development Agency, Bangalore India. FlightGear is used as as the image generator for a flight simulation facility for piloted evaluation of ski-jump launch and arrested recovery of a fighter aircraft from an aircraft carrier.
  6. Veridian Engineering Division, Buffalo, NY. FlightGear is used for the scenery and out-the-window view for the Genesis 3000 flight simulator.