In 1980, the United States' Federal Aviation Administration devised its 'Advanced Simulation Plan' to take account of the advances in flight simulation technology which would move much more aircrew training from the aircraft on to the simulator. This shift of emphasis meant that pilots could be trained in manoeuvres which would not be desirable during training flights in the aircraft, less aircraft need be taken out of service for training purposes, the skies could be left more free for revenue flights and costs of training could be substantially reduced - the standard benefits of flight simulators designed for aircrew training.

Over the next decade, several other commercial aviation authorities followed suit; most notably the United Kingdom Civil Aviation Authority, the Japanese Civil Aviation Bureau, the French Direction Generale de l'Aviation Civile, the Australian Department of Transport, the New Zealand Ministry of Transport and the Canadian Ministry of Transport. All recognised the value of specific written requirements for the accreditation of flight simulators - and most either placed their own additional requirements on top of those formulated by the FAA, or rewrote them entirely.

The international nature of aircrew training meant that the burden on simulator operators, as well as on the simulator manufacturers and the providers of flight test data for simulator Approval Test Guides (ATG's), was becoming extremely onerous. A typical simulator might have had two or even three ATG's, and needed to be taken out of revenue service several times each year to permit the appropriate authority to visit and carry out initial or recurrent checks to verify the device was still performing according to the requirements.

In September 1989, the FSG arranged a conference in London, England to discuss this issue. As a result, a Working Group was set up, with representatives from all interested organisations, who were mandated to come up with a common set of criteria for the evaluation and qualification of full flight simulators which would be satisfactory for all of the world's major aviation authorities. The final product, ratified by a further conference at the RAeS in London during January 1992, was "The International Standards for the Qualification of Airplane Flight Simulators", which laid down the requirements for an 'International Qualification Test Guide' - a requirements document which would satisfy the technical criteria for a full flight simulator anywhere in the world.

Since 1992, efforts have been made to implement these International Standards, and virtually all modern commercial flight simulators are built according to its contents. The Royal Aeronautical Society, and the Flight Simulation Group in particular, are proud to have been the instigators of such a momentous step forwards in international co-operation, and we continue to monitor the progress made in this important work.