The Reconfigurable Cockpit Simulator

Your assignment is to manage the development of the software for a reconfigurable cockpit simulator for a Stealth fighter. The simulator is a mock-up of the Stealth fighter cockpit. The instrumentation is identical to that of the actual fighter. The windshields have been replaced by high-resolution monitors connected to top-of-the-line graphics generators. The flight controls include the same tactile feedback as those in the real cockpit.

This is not a video game, but a serious tool for skill and mission training. It presents to the trainee a faithful representation of all the displays, instruments, and out-the-window visualization of the modeled simulation.

Skill training includes take-off and landing under various conditions (weather, terrain, etc.), formation flying, and engagements. For the simulator to be effective, the simulator must model with high fidelity the actual response of the fighter to the pilot's controls. There cannot be any discernable time lag cause by system overhead. Further, as the Stealth is modified over its lifespan, the simulator must be modifiable to reflect these changes. In fact, it should be capable of being configured quickly to model the characteristics of the different versions in deployment. This flexibility is what is meant by reconfigurable.

The trainer (the person who creates the lessons) must be able to program threats (enemy aircraft, missiles, and antiaircraft fire). An important feature is the ability to save a session and play it back for the student as a teaching aid.

Mission training comprises rehearsing a planned mission as preparation. It requires accurate modeling of the real terrain, placement of cultural items (roads, building, airfields), as well as the expected weather. The ability to quickly create the scenarios is essential.

A trainer workstation is attached to the cockpit simulators. The trainer controls and monitors the missions. In addition:

• The hardware interfaces are stable, adequately documented, and readily available.

• The simulator is a standalone system with no need to interface with other systems.

• A software model of the aircraft's response to the controls (thrust, pitch, yawl, and drag) is available as an off-the-shelf product from a third party.

You are given two years to deliver a working system. The delivery date is a hard customer requirement and not negotiable.

As the new project manager, you are faced with planning, staffing, and delivering the software with this system. Your company has some experience in modeling and simulation, but this is your first manned simulator. No one you know has ever flown a Stealth fighter.

It is wise to assume that you never have a complete specification of the system.

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Project Management Made Easy

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