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University of Sydney Revolutionising Aerospace Education 

Image Credits: University of Sydney, Press Release

The University of Sydney has acquired an advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator, enabling students and researchers to replicate the experience of piloting various aircraft, including A380s and spacecraft. Located within the School of Aerospace, Mechanical, and Mechatronic Engineering, this New Zealand-manufactured simulator, called the Eight360 NOVA Simulator, is the sole one of its kind in Australian universities.

This cutting-edge simulator uses virtual reality technology, providing students and researchers with a comprehensive understanding of how theoretical concepts and design choices impact aircraft behaviour. It enhances the learning and research process by providing a hands-on experience and immersing students in flight operations environments.

What sets this simulator apart from traditional flight simulators is its unlimited rotational axes, allowing for complex manoeuvres like spins and inverted flight. This capability empowers researchers to gain insights into how both aircraft and humans perform in challenging conditions, as well as to test and pilot vehicles they’ve designed.

The simulator operates “untethered” thanks to a freely movable ball resting on rollers that are powered by electric motors, enabling precise control over the ball’s positioning at varying speeds. As pilots manipulate the controls, the ball adjusts its position to mimic the orientation and acceleration of a real-flight vehicle.

Associate Professor Nicholas Lawson, who heads the Aircraft Performance and Operations department and joined the university in 2021, emphasized the importance of the simulator in bridging the gap between theoretical study and practical experience in aerospace and aeronautics.

One of the benefits highlighted by a Bachelor of Aerospace Engineering student is the simulator’s immersive experience, significantly enhancing her understanding of aerospace and space engineering. The student, who is also representing the university at an international space conference, praised the simulator as an excellent hands-on complement to theoretical learning.

Furthermore, the simulator holds potential for simulating space environments, including the control of crewed vehicles on planetary surfaces, a development area led by Visiting Professor Gregory Chamitoff, a former NASA Astronaut.

The acquisition of the advanced 360-degree rotating cockpit simulator by the University of Sydney reflects the Australian government’s interests in promoting STEM education, fostering innovation, and developing the aerospace industry. This cutting-edge technology not only attracts students to STEM disciplines but also contributes to the growth of the country’s aerospace sector.

Additionally, the simulator’s potential for international collaboration in space-related research and its capacity to develop a highly skilled workforce aligns with the government’s goals for innovation, technology transfer, and workforce development. While primarily an academic asset, this initiative indirectly supports broader national objectives in education, industry, and international engagement.

OpenGov Asia reported earlier that the Aerostructures Innovation Research (AIR) Hub’s AIR Pass initiative is playing a crucial role in fostering innovation and growth within the aerospace and aviation sectors. This programme is tailored to assist startup companies as well as small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in advancing their aerospace and aviation projects. The AIR Pass programme offers a comprehensive package that includes expert technical guidance, prototyping resources, and financial support for a span of up to six months for successful applicants.

Through close collaboration, the AIR Hub’s experts have played a pivotal role in the rapid design, production, and delivery of the EPS test rig. This intensive development phase, spanning just four months, culminated in the lead-up to the Avalon Airshow. The successful delivery of the EPS and accompanying test infrastructure for commercial demonstration marked a significant achievement.


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