Flight Training Simulator – Affordable Alternative for Cash Strapped Pilots
What is great about using flight training simulator is that it is an affordable, low-cost way to learn how to fly.
On the other hand, if you are already a pilot, then it is a great way for you to refine your piloting skills or for you to undertake advanced training while, at the same time, saving money on training costs.
Let’s face it. In this economy, everyone cutting back, businesses and individuals alike. And there is no doubt that the economy is taking its toll on the general aviation industry as well.
That means that learning to fly can be quite an expensive proposition, and be financially out of reach for too many aspiring pilots who wish to experience the thrill of flying.
Fortunately there is one option: Use a flight training simulator to supplement the actual flight training that you receive in the air.
This will help you gain some extra practice, thus making your time spent in the cockpit to be more productive, since you will have already had ample time to practice in the simulator beforehand.
The FAA requires a minimum of 40 hours of flight instruction in an aircraft to get your pilot’s license. Some people are ready for the pilot’s exam and check ride right at 40 hours. Some people need a few extra hours of practice. And some people may take twice as many hours to get their license.
By supplementing your actual fight instruction with practice time in a flight training simulator, you can accelerate your training, gain extra practice, develop your proficiency, and reduce the likelihood that you might exceed the 40 hour minimum, thus saving you time as well as money spent on lessons.
IFR Flight Simulator – 3 Ways to Make IFR Training More Affordable
If you have your private pilot’s license and are looking to earn an Instrument Rating, then it might be in your best interests to get your hands on a good IFR flight simulator for your home computer. Here are 3 reasons why:
1. It can save you money.
Leveraging an IFR flight simulator can significantly reduce the cost of your instrument training and your instrument proficiency checks.
Since the FAA allows pilots to log as many as 20 hours of instruction with a simulator as credit towards your instrument rating, then you would be a fool not to take advantage of the opportunity as a cost savings measure.
2. It can save you time.
IFR flight simulator programs can save time. It is simpler to turn on the PC and start up your simulator program, and start flying right away. A real flight lesson, on the other hand, involves the extra time of refueling and preflighting the aircraft.
Poor weather can delay your progress in obtaining your Instrument Rating and can slow you down. Weather phenomena such as rain, snow, fog, overcast clouds, and high winds are grounds for cancellation of flight lessons. You don’t have to “cancel” any lessons if you are flying a simulator instead.
3. You can get more practice.
An IFR flight simulator gives you the freedom to practice as often as you would like, above and beyond the time spent in the actual aircraft. The more often you practice, the more proficient a pilot you will become.
The Use of Airplane Simulators and Flight Sim Games to Train Pilots
Most of us computer buffs are quite aware that there isn’t much we cannot learn and do with this amazing machines. One area that isn’t too recognized though is the ability to be able to use a flight simulator right from the comfort from your own home.
Many people will spend hours playing games that entail flight simulators but it raises the question that if you should decide to become a Pilot would this game playing be of any benefit to you in your learning? As technology progresses so, do these computer flight simulators. They are made to be as authentic as possible. Actually, flight schools use simulators as part of their training but their software is different as to that which we are talking about here.
Most of the Pilots are of the opinion that these game flight simulators will be of no help to you in your actual training. In fact, some of them feel you develop bad habits from them. After all, if you make a mistake on the simulator you just start over again. You may not have that opportunity in the air. So perhaps they build a false sense of security.
Most likely, there has been no controlled study regarding this subject so there is no way to prove either theory. Perhaps in this case it would be wise to use the simulators as they are designed to be for gaming and entertainment. Keeping them in their right perspective will most likely not become detrimental to your flying studies and advancement in the proper techniques.
These simulators may be beneficial during your ground training in assisting your teaching materials. To be able to see something that is being referred to is often better than having to envision it. A word of warning though flight simulators can become addictive. People seem to spend hours at one time on them. You don’t want them to overtake your book and material studies, so govern yourself accordingly if you have decided to use one.
Another way of perhaps gaining some insight as to how effective these computer flight simulators are is to do a comparison with the software that is used at the flight schools. The ones obtained from the Schools are obviously well accepted as hours spent on them are allowed to be entered into your logbook. Compare the two and see what the differences are. You may find the answers to any questions you have regarding what harm could the computer simulators create.
One thing that has been noted though is that using a computer flight simulator may not make you a better Pilot but being a Pilot makes you a superior flight simulator operator. In any event, once you have become a Pilot if you are not getting the opportunity to fly as much as you want to then a computer flight simulator will go a long way in keeping your interests up.
The conclusion is to try to determine the answer for you. Perhaps you could discuss it with your School. You could even approach the FAA and see what their views are. If they disapprove of the computer flight simulators perhaps, they will enlighten you as to why.
XPlane 9 Flight Simulator Debut
As far as PC game players in flight simulation are concerned, XPLANE 9 is one of the world’s most comprehensive and powerful flight simulator for personal computers. Compared to its senior and tougher competitor Microsoft Flight Simulator, most will agree Microsoft has upper hand in term of number of players under his arm. But, XPLANE 9, though a latecomer, offers the closest model of realistic flight simulation available.
Look at this game, you will realize XPLANE 9 isn’t just a game, but an engineering instrument that can be used to anticipate the flying calibers of fixed and rotary wing aircraft. It is this unbelievable accuracy makes it a great instrument for anticipating aircraft functioning and handling.
Just imagine, this game XPLANE 9 permits players to take off with whichever airport in the world, as well as selecting your choice of preferred environment and detailed terrain, with added real-time weather. Not forgetting picking your choice of planes- be it Cessna light passenger aircraft or large commercial aircraft (such as Boeing 747) or flighter jet out of a collection of 35 aircraft, or even one of your own designed. And while lifting off, voices are truly impressive, with accurate loud blasting engines sounds and noisy background chatting over radio, in the background.
With all these features, no wonder XPLANE 9 is taken up by the FAA (U. S. Federal Aviation Administration), Aircraft Manufacturers, world-leading Defense Contractors, Space Agencies in the United States, either as part of their in-house pilot simulation training, or used as flight testing or aircraft design.
A Realistic Flying Experience For Low Spec PC’s
There are quite a handful of different flight sims available on the PC and in other platforms. One of my favorite early flight-sims was F-22 Lightning by Novalogic. The game used a 3D engine that was considered to be quite state-of-the-art for its time. The main appeal of the game to me was the fact that I felt like I could fly virtually anywhere I wanted to as long as my fuel would last without any invisible barriers to hamper my flying skills (or lack thereof).
It was like a little kid’s dream come true to be able to actually pilot a top-class fighter jet with no restrictions and no repercussions in case of failure. What made the experience even sweeter was the fact that you could literally crash the jet in all sorts of places and even shoot your guns and missiles at your own base and destroy all the buildings on your own airstrip.
The amount of freedom that you had in this particular flight simulator was quite unprecedented considering the fact that it was released in the mid-90’s just before OpenGL and Direct3D became the standard for almost all 3D games.
The reason that I am bringing up F-22 Lightning is because I felt that even though the game had some flaws as far as game design was concerned, the realistic flying experience that it offered was unparalleled at the time it was released when most flight sims had this arcadey, game-like feel to them.
This brings us back to the present time. At one point, I felt a bit nostalgic and sought a kind of free-roaming, do anything you want flight sim that was more up to date and would actually run on my modern PC. I did a few Google searches and after reading a few articles on various flight simulator software, I found several positive ProFlight Simulator reviews.
Of course, what really attracted me to the software was that based on the gameplay videos and screenshots, it didn’t require a very high-end PC, but the graphics were quite passable for a modern game. After mulling it over a bit, I decided to take the risk and make the purchase – fortunately, I wasn’t disappointed.
Most people would probably be put off by ProFlight Simulator because of the somewhat dated looking graphics that would not look too out of place in an early PS2 launch title, but don’t let that fool you. The fact of the matter is that when it comes to gameplay, ProFlight Simulator is arguably the best flight sim available on any platform.
What really sets ProFlight Simulator apart from the completion is the amount of depth that was put into creating this game. There are over 120 different aircraft available in the game and all of them handle differently – presumably, as similar to their real-life counterparts as possible.
You can even pilot the legendary Wright Flyer if you want. Furthermore, there are over 20,000 simulated airports in the game and the environments are actually updated in realtime using GPS Satellite data taken from the internet. This means that you can actually visit different countries from all around the world and they will look as close to the real thing as the game’s graphics engine permits in realtime.
As far as realism goes, ProFlight Simulator is not for those who cannot stand a bit of a learning curve. This game actually simulates how a real pilot would fly a plane in real life. There are no shortcuts to learning how to control your aircraft and if you do not know what you are doing, you will find yourself in many epic plane crashes as you get used to the game’s control system.
Time may be the only difference between the game and flying in real life. Travel time is noticeably compressed in the game because it is quite doubtful that anyone would actually find piloting a 5-hour trip on a commercial airliner entertaining.
If you are looking for a realistic flying experience along with the ability to take your plane anywhere you want in the world, then ProFlight Simulator is the PC game for you.
Computer Hardware and Simulation Gaming for Aviation Safety Considered
Modern day computer hardware is getting quite robust, and there is about 10 times the computing power in a smart phone as was used to fly the first Space Shuttle, maybe more. Still, when it comes to operating today aircraft simulators the computer hardware is intense, and these simulators can cost a ton of money.
Because they cost so much the time to use them becomes very valuable, therefore most airlines only use them as required to check out their pilots, or train them for certification on the next aircraft that pilot needs to fly so he or she can get their type rating and satisfactorily prove they are safe.
The other day, I was speaking with an expert in computer online gaming communities, Troy Laclaire, about the use of simulators in aviation, and how great these tools were for complying with safety standards and preventing errors in the real world, carrying real passengers, when it really mattered most.
One question we pondered was should airline pilots, commercial pilots, charter pilots, and fractional jet pilots be required to fly with another pilot to an airport first prior to going there as the pilot in command for the first time.
If such an onerous rule were to be made by the FAA, what about simulators, couldn’t a pilot merely fly the last 5-10 minutes on approach and take-off to each airport that the airline generally went too? Maybe, but in the case of a charter jet, that might mean they’d spend 100s of hours in a simulator and that costs a lot of money right? Okay so is there a solution to all this? Troy has come up with one potential solution, so lets’ talk about this shall we. First, Troy notes:
The only problem with this is that simulators are not exactly cheap to run and each simulation takes a fair amount of time, and far as I understand simulators are mostly used to get pilots comfortable with flying a particular plane type.
However, since the pilots are generally already familiar with flying their planes (at least I should hope so) and nearly everyone has computers these days, it is possible that you could have a DVD series created to cover the routes, based around actual flights, and then have the pilots use their computers to run these so that they can get some familiarity with the airports.
Now then, this is a good idea, and it makes sense, a perfect solution, plus it also stands to reason that a gaming expert would come up with this concept. Okay so, Troy also suggests that we “provide the pilots with a take home DVD, basic flight-sim gaming controls, and they can use these to get some muscle memory.” This also makes sense, keeping it simple, and perfect for a last-minute booking for a fractional jet, or charter flight, as the pilot can merely practice a couple of ILS approaches, missed approach, take-off, and navigating the taxi ways , etc.
Troy, being a computer hardware engineer, and quite the prudent safety advisor also states; “Alternatively, have a” pilots room “setup where a pilot can run through a video / basic simulator of a previous flight that has already flown that route, letting them get a rough idea of what to expect when going to an airport they are not yet familiar with. ”
Okay so that’s pretty easy, it can be set up in the break room of the local Jet Center, or at an FBO etc. Perhaps, for $ 10-20 they can shoot a couple of landings at the desired future airport that they will be flying too?
Perhaps, it might also be available to ALL general aviation pilots, the DVDs and a flight simulator room at the local FBO, etc. May as well keep the system busy and paying for itself, perhaps it might also spit out certificates of completion and aviation insurance companies may consider lowering rates too? Indeed, I hope you will consider all this and think on it.