Critical Components of a Full Flight Simulator


Full flight simulators require constant supervision and maintenance work. In some cases, the components that break down can be repaired, but there are some that need to be replaced. When a full flight simulator does not meet its certificate parameters, a critical failure is logged and discrepancies are identified. It is expected that the repairs or component replacement should be delivered within 4 hours. If the training does not stop, but it lowers the quality of the training – up to 24 hours. Those broken FFS parts which lower the quality of training, or cease a training session all together are called critical components.

On an older, 20 to 30 year-old FFS, a session cease happens approximately once a month. With newer models it happens a little less often. However, minor, yet training interfering faults happen on a daily basis, regardless of the simulator age. For this particular reason, it is highly recommended to have a critical components and material in stock. Stocking up is useful not only because it is handy to keep a spare part close by and fix an issue as soon as possible. It is also a smarter financial choice. When you stock up, you have the time to bargain for better prices and find better deals. However, if something in your FFS breaks down and needs immediate attention and you don’t have it in stock, you will buy whatever you can find on the market. And it will almost certainly will cost you much more than if you had stocked up in advance.

When you buy a new FFS, the manufacturer will most likely provide you with a stock list, but in some cases, especially when buying a used simulator, the list might not be provided. Therefore, SimHelp engineers helped us create an approximate critical FFS component list for your stock. We included the approximate market prices from the lowest to highest, depending whether you buy it before to stock up, or when you need it ASAP. This list was based on the engineers’ accumulated lengthy experience and statistics:

Quality lowering broken parts

These cause minor training disturbances, but they must be replaced or repaired for the best possible training conditions – they break often and need to be changed on a regular basis, hence it is a good idea to always keep them in stock:

  • Oxygen masks – they tend to break on accidents, as they get pulled too hard or simply someone sits down on them during a training session. Minimum 6 units per year might be required and the price of one can range between 1,300 and 3,000 EUR.
  • Micro switches – as the full flight simulator is in constant use, all the switches wear down and break quite easily. They do not cost much, around 10 EUR per switch, but they break quite frequently, around 70 can be required in a year.
  • Fuses – in general, it is sacrificial device. Once a fuse does its job, it must be replaced. The same as micro switches, it doesn’t cost a lot – around 10 EUR. But you might need to change more than a 100 per year.
  • Oil – if motion system is hydraulic, the system requires oil, and lots of it. It is best to have a barrel or a few in stock at all the times.
  • Grease – for moving and constantly in friction components, such as a lower and upper eye assembly of the motion system. Same as oil, one barrel will be a smart choice to have.

Session ceasing broken parts

Such broken parts would be critical and would require a replacement or repairs within a few hours. These can be sectioned out into three parts:

Movement system parts:

  • Hydraulic servo valves – due to intensive simulator usage for training purposes, the movement system naturally starts to malfunction after a certain time. We estimate 3 units per year might be required and one can cost starting from 700 to a whole 3,500 EUR.
  • Actuators – they move and control a mechanism or system, for example open a valve. In simple words, these are “movers”. The price can reach 2,600 to 4,320 EUR per 1 unit. An estimate of 5 per year needed.

Visual system parts:

  • Projector lamps and lamp units – the visual system on a FFS is the one that requires the most frequent maintenance and repairs due to its changeable components that get worn out over time. A lamp unit will cost you 340 EUR and an estimate is 12 units per year. However, the cost of a lamp projector is 9,000-15,000 EUR, a LED projector costs about 25,000-45,000 EUR. The main issue is that the projector model might no longer be manufactured, so you will need to choose an alternative, some modifiers will be required and that takes time; this is why it is best to keep a spare projector in stock
  • Cathode ray tube (CRT)(for vintage projectors) – even if it has a good life span, due to the intensity of the projected light, parameters and how often the device is turned on and off, it often requires repairs or replacement. The price starts at 850 EUR and grows to 3,500 EUR. 5 of them might be needed within a year.
  • Power supply units (PSU) – there are up to 40 PSUs in a FFS and the most powerful PSUs in flight simulators are applied for visual systems in order to have a clear and high quality image. One can cost around 500 to 1,000 EUR and you might need to change 5 of them in a year.

Computer system parts:

  • Printed circuit boards (PCB) – are used in all but the simplest electronic products. It is common for PCB components to burn due to high temperatures they undergo, especially if used for such complex machinery as a FFS. The price will depend on the size of a PCB and how old or new your simulator is; also, whether you buy it before it becomes a necessity. Around 20 of these a year might need changing and it can start as low as 430 EUR and grow up to 13,000 EUR.

Best to rely on experience

However, there are some parts that do not break as often, yet they are critical parts in a FFS. If such part breaks, a repair or replacement is speedily required. Parts like this are avionics – these parts are one of the most expensive parts you can find in a FFS. A new part can reach up to over 200, 000 euros:

  • Primary flight display (PFD)
  • Navigation display
  • Display unit
  • Flight control unit (FCU)
  • Multi control panel (MCP)
  • Display Management Computer (DMC)

In most cases stocking up is necessary, but with parts that do not break as often as once a year, in this case, avionic parts, it is most advisable to have a contract with a reliable and fast responding, experienced FFS and aircraft part and material supplier. You can never know when you are in need of a reliable helping hand.

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