"You've come a long way, baby" was a popular saying a number of years ago. And in the case of the Elite sims, they have indeed come a long way. Over the years Elite has evolved from a very basic desktop device to the product we see today - a fully accredited advanced flight training device with impressive capability. The avionics include a real Garmin 430 WAAS GPS and a KAP 150 autopilot. In addition to the KAP 150 autopilot, a KFC 150 flight director is available on some of the aircraft models.

Because the instruments are generated by software, rather than using the actual hardware, the system has tremendous flexibility. Instrument packages are set to reflect the typical capabilities of each aircraft model. So you don't have a King Air and C172 trying to share the same set of instruments. Basic aircraft have the typical HI ADF dual nav-com package. More advanced models replace the HI with an HSI and the ADF with an RMI. And the King Air model has its own set of turboprop instruments as well as its own throttle quadrant.

The Elite AATD is driven by two very capable computers. One computer handles the simulation, and the other one generates all of the visuals. Unlike the older FTDs, the Elite AATD visual computer will automatically generate the proper runway environment based upon the direction of your approach. And if the airport happens to have parallel runways, that is what you will see when you break out of the clouds - see the visual for Flying Cloud (KFCM). The visuals are projected by an overhead projector onto a large screen situated in front of the cockpit enclosure. The effect is the same as sitting in a plane and looking through the windshield. No more looking at a small monitor for your visual representation. The Garmin 430W sits in a console to the right of the pilot's seat, much like many of the glass cockpit aircraft today.

The instructor station (not shown in the above picture) sits outside of the cockpit enclosure. From this station the instructor can control the entire flight, including meteorological conditions as well as instrument and system failures. Tune in the ATIS frequency of the airport and you will actually hear a synthesized voice giving the ATIS information for that airport, based on the weather conditions set up in the weather page. Change the weather conditions in the weather page, and the ATIS information promptly changes to reflect the new conditions. It is even possible to import realtime weather into the simulation.

With the powerful computers, the response has become much quicker, without the lag that was noticeable in earlier systems. Overall, this AATD offers numerous advantages to the serious pilot looking to maintain a sharp edge in today's demanding aviation environment.

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