Maximizing Pilot Training Potential with Flight Simulators

Jan 16, 2024

Chew on these data points about flight training simulators for a moment:

  1. Upwards of 75% of pilot training time is spent on sims.
  2. Using pilot training flight simulators can cut aviation accidents down by up to 50%.
  3. Learning/practicing on a simulator saves billions of dollars on flight training each year.
  4. Non-military investment in flight simulators is projected to go from $1.08 billion (2024) to $1.6 billion (2031).

Clearly, the stats show that flight training simulators work — really well (and are here to stay). That’s why flight schools and instructors around the world leverage simulation as a component of their training approach.

Given that you’re going to be using a sim as a student pilot, let’s explore ways you can make your training time as effective and efficient as possible.

Why Train with a Flight Simulator

Why Train with a Flight Simulator

You could list out in a bulleted list all of the reasons why someone should consider training with a flight simulator. Maybe in some cases it is required, discuss what cases those might be.

No modern aviation training program would be complete without flight simulation. This advanced technology is leveraged at civil and military flight training schools globally.

And it’s not by coincidence. It’s because incorporating flight simulators into your training plan will yield better outcomes for you as a student and as a licensed pilot.

Top 3 Benefits of Using a Pilot Training Flight Simulator

Landing in the top three are:

  1. Improved safety. 
  2. Cost savings. 
  3. Training efficiencies. 

This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. Flight simulators create a convenient, flexible, controlled aviation learning experience.

We’ll talk more about safety, savings, and streamlined training in a minute.

Even More Reasons for Simulator Training

But first, in case you aren’t yet convinced that sims have earned their wings, there are plenty of other motivations:

  • It may be required. Some training programs include this in their curricula. For commercial pilots, it may be mandatory for maintaining their certifications.
  • It accommodates different learning styles. One-size-fits-all learning is a myth. Most simulation systems can adapt to the needs of the student.
  • It can provide better feedback. Sims are designed to collect information about your training. These metrics can be tracked over time to reveal progress and proficiency gaps.
  • It’s modern. You want to get on board with current and next-gen aviation technologies and techniques — or you’ll be left in the wake.
  • It lets you focus on the training you want or need. You can work on specific, isolated skills or scenarios. Set the sim up to let you do 10 touch-and-gos in a row if you want!
  • It’s got a “pause” button. If you make an error, the training program can be frozen so your instructor can review the issue with you. This enables you to course correct immediately.
  • It lets you prepare for a range of possible scenarios. In real-life flying, you may not encounter sudden weather changes or in-flight emergencies very often. But, you still need to know what to do. Practicing on a simulator is a practical solution.
  • It’s available rain or shine. No matter what the conditions are outside, you can always “go up” in your sim.
  • It’s better for the environment. Sims are cleaner and produce less noise pollution than actual aircraft in flight.
  • It’s realistic. Whether you’re using a 2D simulator or one with VR and a motion cockpit, your brain believes you’re in the pilot’s seat in charge of operating an aircraft.
  • It may be a lower-stress way to pick up the basics. You can repeat maneuvers or go over procedures without the same pressures as you’d have during actual air time.

Key Features of Flight Training Simulators

Flight simulators really are a momentous innovation for aviation. While they’ve always been useful, flight simulation devices have come quite a ways since their inception in the 1920s. (Yep, they’ve been around that long.)

What’s used in flight schools today are highly evolved systems that can deliver amazing training opportunities. And, you can expect this trend to continue, with new technologies and standard — like AI — rasing the bar in the future.

Realism & Fidelity in Pilot Training Flight Simulators

Modern flight simulators have reached unprecedented levels of realism and fidelity, thanks to the bleeding-edge technologies inside them.

These advanced systems integrate sophisticated software, powerful computers, and state-of-the-art equipment to create a training experience that closely mirrors real-world flying. You’ll appreciate features — like high-resolution visual displays, authentic-feeling motion systems, and true-to-life cockpit controls — that give you an unbeatably immersive training environment.

Scenario-Based Training in Advanced Flight Simulators

Scenario-based training can enhance pilots’ decision-making, adaptability, and ability to apply practical knowledge during flight. This is why it’s a critical dimension of pilot training and built into flight simulators.

Simulators can generate diverse scenarios, ranging from routine flights to challenging emergencies. Pilots can use these hypothetical setups to develop situational awareness and problem-solving skills as well as learn how to respond to different situations.

Safety & Efficiency in Simulator-Based Pilot Training

Safety & Efficiency in Simulator-Based Pilot Training

Realism, fidelity, and scenarios in training serve an important purpose. They play a pivotal role in flight simulators’ ability to improve aviation safety and enhance the efficiency of pilot training.

Enhancing Safety through Flight Training Simulators

Flight training simulators are a boon for student/instructor safety during training and beyond. This is because they support dynamic learning and error correction.

By using a flight simulator, you aren’t risking people, aircraft, etc. If a student makes an aerial mistake when using a simulator, no one gets hurt and no property gets damaged.

Also, because using a simulator can be a calmer approach, it may help students internalize procedures and cultivate a safety-conscious mindset. Both of which can contribute to more confident and capable pilots down the line.

Many quality studies by reputable sources prove this out. As mentioned up top, utilizing flight simulators in pilot training reduced accidents by half. Scratching a little deeper, 75-80% of accidents are caused by human error — mostly related to pilot skill level. Strategic use of sims significantly decreases rates of pilot error.

Cost-Effectiveness of Flight Simulator Training

Beyond safety benefits, flight simulator training is way friendlier in your wallet — and possibly your schedule — than in-aircraft training. The efficiencies gained through simulator-based training translate to a more economical and streamlined trajectory for pilots, making aviation training more accessible and sustainable.

Simulators offer substantial savings compared to traditional learning-by-flying. With the ability to replicate diverse flying conditions, emergency situations, and aircraft types, pilots can undergo rigorous and extensive training without the operational costs associated with actual flights.

This not only reduces flight training expenses related to aircraft rental, fuel, maintenance, and aircraft wear and tear. It also optimizes training schedules and gives you greater freedom to train when and on what you need. Plus, it’s much quicker to reset a scenario on a sim than repeat an exercise in real life.

Flight Simulators for Safer, More Streamlined Pilot Training

Flight Simulators for Safer, More Streamlined Pilot Training

Flight simulators will never take the place of real-life, in-the-air training. But, they are an incredible addition to the aviation education toolkit.

Sims create safer flying experiences and more skilled, prepared, and confident pilots. Plus, pilot training flight simulators help make learning to fly more accessible to a wider array of students.

At Pureflight, we incorporate flight simulators into your training so you get the best possible learning experience and results. To find out more, contact us today.

FAQs: Flight Training Simulators

What is the best Flight Simulator for Pilot Training?

Flight simulators like Redbird Flight Simulator, Model TD2 (BATD) and Redbird MCX (AATD), which are what we use at Pureflight, offer realistic flying experiences, diverse aircraft, and support for pilot training. However, as long as you’re using an FAA-approved flight simulator that’s capable of facilitating your training requirement — you should be good.

How Do Flight Training Simulators Enhance Pilot Skills?

Flight simulators sharpen pilot skills through lifelike scenarios. They let pilots safely practice flying in varied conditions and handling emergency situations. Overall, flight simulators are an effective and efficient way to help enhance a pilot’s proficiency.

Are Flight Training Simulators Effective for All Levels of Pilots?

Yes, beginner, intermediate, and seasoned pilots alike will benefit from using a flight training simulator. They can tailor learning, practice, and skills maintenance exercises to any level of aviation expertise.

What Technologies are Used in Advanced Pilot Training Simulators?

Flight simulators use cutting-edge software and equipment that includes realistic visual displays, motion systems, and interactive controls. This tech closely replicates the experience of being in and operating real aircraft.

Can Flight Training Simulators Replace Real Aircraft Training?

Absolutely no. Flight training simulators are valuable virtual training tools — but nothing can fully replace true, hands-on flight experience in a genuine aircraft. Plus, the FAA caps the number of flight hours you can log on a sim and apply toward your requirements, based on the type of simulator and your certification level (e.g., up to 15% of private pilot hours can be accrued on the AATD we use). You may also find that certain programs don’t use simulators. For example, at Pureflight, 100% of your helicopter pilot training is done in the helicopter.