A hugely impressive simulator with a full six-axis motion in operation. We can be confident you’ll have an unrivalled simulator experience.
On October 21, 2020 Elliott and Alexis visited Simulator Adventures again to see what changes they have been working on and to gather some video footage. Please see the update-section below by clicking here.
Simulator Adventures are one of the few A320 simulator operators in the country, but unlike the others, they have dedicated themselves to the Airbus. As a result, this full motion, highly accurate and extremely functional simulator ranks among the best we’ve visited. The components all felt ‘real’ and this was helped by the use of real Airbus A320 sidesticks. The flight dynamics were also very good and were thoroughly tested during a short flight from Manchester to Birmingham. The simulator sits on a 6-axis, full motion, VRXsim platform, which is extremely rare for this category. The motion wasn’t functioning during our visit – we’d like to return once its up and running to update our review.
The visual display was of a high quality, with realistic (often moving) scenery, weather and terrain all projected on to a 220 degree wrap around screen. Operational noises were accurate and the ambient sound was very credible. There is no ATC facility, but this is something the owners were keen to adapt later as the simulator matures – they’re currently limited by lack of fibre internet provision at their location. It’s worth noting that this is a very young simulator and the future potential on top of what is already extremely good is massive. The visual display is not currently collimated. This function, which aligns the pilot viewpoint with each particular seat, is extremely expensive and therefore rare to find installed on these types of simulators. Again, the owners are very talented and have a ‘fix’ on the way – more about the owners later.
Five computers run the many simulator systems. Nearly everything in the flight deck operates fully and correctly, including the real Airbus sidesticks. The FMGS (flight management and guidance system) was used as extensively as it would be in the real world and performed well, with all the functions usually found on the aeroplane working as they should. The circuit breaker panels are present, but currently not operational. This is a future development along with official CAA certification. The simulator has three camera points which can live stream around the building and record the sessions.
The venue is centrally located in Manchester’s Salford Quays, with all the transport links expected in a major city. Finding the venue was quite easy and there was plenty of parking right outside. You enter into a clean and tidy reception area with aircraft seats and a briefing room. What impressed us, was walking out from the seating area and into the simulator hall, which gave our reviewing airline pilot the chills as it is just like one of the old simulator halls at his airline! As you step out of the reception, you see the simulator in all its glory mounted on its full motion platform and there is certainly excitement in the air at this point. Spectators are catered for with refreshments in the lounge area, where there is a live video feed from inside the simulator shown on a large TV. They are also welcome to join in the experience by occupying one of two ‘jumpseats’ in the simulator itself – just like on the real aeroplane! This does limit participation, but simulator size constrains the number and it’s actually more accurate having just two as this is what is present on the real aircraft.
The business owners are developing a cabin section and have a number of airline seats dotted about waiting to be fitted. This will be a great addition, and promises realistic features for its occupants. Obviously, due to the limitations of the simulator being mounted on a motion platform, the cabin section will be located separately from the simulator, but sound and video link-ups are promised as well as virtual aircraft windows – an incredible feature that we’ve only seen once before. Again, due to the limitations of a motion platform, catering for reduced mobility is challenging, but not something the owners shied away from solving and they’d encourage any prospective customers to give them a call and see what can be done.
Simulator Adventures’ website can be considered basic, but functional. It has some great pictures and video of the venue and simulator, some frequently asked questions and the ability to purchase an experience – keep an eye for special offers! However, to book the flight, a phone call or email is necessary. They promise to respond within the hour in most instances if the call or email isn’t instantly dealt with. The business is active on social media and a frequent customer/loyalty scheme is under development.
We received a warm welcome from Simulator Adventures, who were keen to show us their A320 simulator. The business is very professional and run by experts in their field, having been simulator engineers in the Royal Air Force and previously an A320/A321 pilot for a major UK airline. This level of qualification is testament to the venue and is the reason the simulator is of such a high standard. They prefer to keep sessions casual and a uniform isn’t typically worn, aiming to put the pilot at ease during their experience. Instruction is from an ex-airline pilot and as a result very accurate, realistic and informative. They actively participate in charity events and raising awareness, especially with the Stroke Association, which is of particular importance to them.
A hugely impressive simulator, and although we didn’t see the full 6-axis motion in operation, we can be confident you’ll have an unrivalled simulator experience. Combine this with the fantastic staff, incredible realism and professional premises, then a recipe for one of the best UK flight simulators is right on Manchester’s doorstep.