C4iSR: Air

BAE Systems draws on motorsport experience to revolutionise cockpit development

04 September 2018

Williams Advanced Engineering has built a reconfigurable cockpit for BAE Systems’ new TSIF. It can be modified to replicate legacy aircraft cockpits such as Hawk and Typhoon, as well as serving as a testbed for future technologies that may be applied to Tempest. Source: Williams

Key Points

  • Williams has built a transformable cockpit structure to help BAE Systems experiment with training approaches and assess new cockpit technologies
  • The cockpit tool is part of a holistic approach BAE Systems is taking to improve products and training solutions, using team-based lessons from motorsport

BAE Systems is completing integration work on a new cockpit simulator, which it plans to use as a “sandpit for innovation”, chief technologist Julia Sutcliffe told Jane’s .

The cockpit structure was designed and built by Williams Advanced Engineering using skills and methodologies honed by the Williams Formula 1 team. According to Williams’ technical director, Paul McNamara, the design was influenced by the modularity of construction and heavily metricated human factors teamwork that is required for fast pit stops.

This modularity will enable engineers to reconfigure the physical cockpit layout, controls, and components to replicate legacy aircraft such as the Hawk and Typhoon, swiftly tailor them for a range of pilot builds, and to experiment with innovative layouts and systems that might feed into the new Tempest future fighter programme, using live feedback from aircrew and engineers.

Rather than being used in a traditional aircrew training simulator role, Sutcliffe explained that the new cockpit is designed to be an experimental “workhorse” to support BAE Systems’ technology development and product roadmaps for a range of technologies and platforms.

She added that “we wanted the ability to experiment with layouts that we can quickly reconfigure – front and back – without having to duck underneath [the cockpit installation] and reconnect wires and all sorts of stuff.”

Stuart Olden, business development manager at Williams, told Jane’s that this was underpinned by motorsport experience, with the company’s whole-system design approach “enabling the maintainers and the operators of the simulator to gain access quickly to particular components to swap in, swap out, and change elements around”.

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