FAA Approved Flight Simulators Guide

What is a Certified Home Flight Simulator?

RealSimGear has recently received Basic Aviation Training Device approval for two systems; one being a Cirrus SR22/20 and the other being a Cessna/Piper single-engine type. 

Having a BATD allows you to log flight time on your approved simulator in your logbook.  If you have an Instrument Rating you can use an FAA Certified BATD to maintain instrument currency.  In the presence of a CFI, you can also use the simulator to contribute to certain requirements of a private pilot certificate.

Benefits For a Student Pilot (or pilots)

As a student/pilot, using a flight simulator has some advantages that are parallel to learning in an actual airplane:

  • Aircraft familiarization - learn the aircraft, where the controls are, how things function, and how to use the avionics
  • Basic flight concepts - how to maintain level flight, banks, climbs, and descents
  • Basic navigation techniques - how to dead recon navigate and how to use the avionics in the plane to navigate
  • Having trouble learning how to create and follow a GPS flight plan?  This can be easily learned in a simulator.  
  • Practice failures - learn what to expect and practice response to things like engine failures, electrical failures, instrument failures
  • Fly for proficiency - practice maneuvers and approaches over and over until they become second nature
  • Don’t pay to learn this in an airplane, this can be easily done in a simulator.

When adding certified status to a simulator the following additional benefits can be realized by student pilots:

  • Student pilots are allowed to use and log up to 2.5 hours of flight time towards the requirements for a Private Pilot License (PPL) (with instructor present).  It should be noted that the FAA allows any approved simulator time to be logged but only the 2.5 hours outlined above can be used towards a PPL.

Instrument rated pilot also have the following benefit:

  • Use the simulator to log currency approaches, otherwise known as the 6 in 6.  The FAA allows the use of a BATD to log all currency related activities for the Instrument rating.  These hours/approaches do NOT need to have an instructor present to be logged.

The national average for the number of hours student pilots need to obtain their PPL is between 55 and 70 (40 hours is the FAA minimum).  If a student pilot uses an ATD as part of their training, training hours closer to 50 as opposed to 70 hours are common by virtue of being more proficient through the use of a sim. The savings in aircraft rental alone (at a $150/hr rate) could result in savings of $3000 to the student for the cost of their PPL.

Cessna/Piper FAA Approved Flight Simulator  

The RealSimGear Cessna BATD is designed to simulate two of the most popular training aircraft on the market today, the Cessna 172 and Piper Archer.  These aircrafts have been a training stalwart for many years due to their docile flying characteristics and relatively low cost of operation.  Additionally, this simulator is certified with a Cessna 182T (fixed gear) for pilots that need to simulate higher-performance aircraft.

What’s included in our Cessna/Piper Home Simulator - 

  • The simulator package is mounted in the RealSimGear Modular Panel System.  This system provides a realistic-looking enclosed instrument panel with LED lighting which houses the avionics, switches and controls.  It also contains an integrated USB hub and HDMI adapter making the system easy to pick up and move around if necessary.
  • RealSimGear G1000 Suite - This contains a G1000 PFD (with GFC700 autopilot functionality), G1000 MFD, and G1000 audio panel. 
  • RealSimGear Generic Switch Panel - This provides all the switches, fuel selector, flap switch and position indicators, and a small trim wheel.  
  • Choice of control yoke - Logitech Flight Yoke Pro, Honeycomb Alpha, or Virtual Fly Yoko
  • Choice of throttle controls - Logitech throttle, Virtual Fly TQ3, or Virtual Fly Vernio
  • Choice of rudder pedals - Logitech rudder pedals, MFG rudder pedals or Thrustmaster TPR rudder pedals
  • RealSimGear approved PC (high end gaming PC)
  • RealSimGear approved 49” widescreen monitor
  • Professional X-Plane 11 License
  • Commercial License for the chosen aircraft, Cessna 172, Cessna 182, or Piper Archer TX

faa flight simulator

Cirrus FAA Approved Flight Simulator 

The RealSimGear Cirrus BATD is designed to simulate the Cirrus SR20, SR22, and SR22T.  This aircraft is a newer aircraft, which has become very popular over the last 20 years.  They are known for their high performance, comfortable cabin, and highly sophisticated avionics packages. Typically the SR20 is used for training, while the SR22/SR22T is used for pilots once they have completed their PPL for longer distance trips.  The RealSimGear Cirrus packages come in two form factors:

  • Cirrus Console based - This version has all the functionality of a real Cirrus and has been certified as a BATD, and is mounted in a compact desktop enclosure.
  • Cirrus Cockpit based - In addition to full functionality, all controls are mounted in a replica Cirrus instrument panel and glare shield, and all controls are placed exactly where one would expect to find them as in a real aircraft.
    • Note, this is not yet an FAA approved flight simulator, but we expect this “soon”.

What’s included in our Cirrus Home Simulator - 

  • RealSimGear Cirrus Console or RealSimGear Cirrus Cockpit mounting - both systems provide the mounting base which houses the avionics, switches and controls.  They also contain an integrated USB hub and HDMI adapter making the systems easy to pick up and move around if necessary.
  • RealSimGear G1000 Panels - This contains a G1000 PFD and G1000 MFD.  
  • RealSimGear Cirrus Switch Panel - This provides all the switches found on the bolster panel of a real Cirrus aircraft.
  • RealSimGear Cirrus Fuel/Flap controls - This is located on the Cirrus Console, or the Cirrus Cockpit has it mounted in the throttle console.
  • RealSimGear GCU Stack (choice of Perspective or Perspective Plus, the two hardware options found in G3, G5, and G6 Cirrus aircraft)
    • RealSimGear GCU47x, GFC700 autopilot, and GMA350 audio panel (Perspective).
    • RealSimGear GCU479, GFC7500 autopilot, and GMA350 audio panel (Perspective Plus).
  • Choice of control yoke (for console only.  Yoke comes included in Cockpit)
    • Cirrus Console - Thrustmaster T1600, CH Pro Flightstick, or RealSimGear Force Feedback Yoke
    • Cirrus Cockpit - RealSimGear Force Feedback Yoke
  • Choice of throttle controls (for console only.  Yoke comes included in Cockpit)
    • Cirrus Console - Logitech throttle or Virtual Fly TQ3
    • Cirrus Cockpit - RealSimGear Throttle Console - This contains the flap selector/indicators, fuel pump switch, fuel selector, and throttle and mixture controls
  • Choice of rudder pedals - Logitech rudder pedals, MFG rudder pedals or Thrustmaster TPR rudder pedals
  • RealSimGear approved PC (high end gaming PC)
  • RealSimGear approved 49” widescreen monitor
  • Professional X-Plane 11 License
  • Commercial License for the chosen aircraft, Cirrus SR20, SR22, or SR22T

The Flight Simulators PC and Software 

The included PC for a BATD certified simulator is a high-end gaming PC capable of powering multiple monitors and providing a high level of graphical performance.  The main specs for this PC are:

  • i7-10700K overclocked to 4.8GHz
  • 240x120mm Corsair Water Cooler
  • Z490 Chipset motherboard
  • Wireless-AX (WIFI-6)
  • 32GB of DDR4-3200
  • 2TB M.2 Nvme SSD
  • Windows 10 Home
  • Phanteks P300a Case
  • 750 Watt power supply
  • Nvidia RTX 3070 8GB

Additionally, all certified sims include an X-Plane 11 Pro license and the appropriate commercial version of the aircraft license.

FAA Approved Flight Simulator FAQ’s 

Do I get instant FAA approval when I buy it? 

Yes.  When you purchase a complete FAA Certified simulator from us, you will also receive

  • A user manual
  • The FAA approved QAG (Qualification and Approval Guide) which outlines all the components, as tested and approved, that the simulator must contain
  • The FAA approved LoA (Letter of Authorization) which is what must accompany the simulator and be present for all training.  It is this LoA that provides the authority to use this system as an ATD.
  • A personalized configuration session with the RealSimGear team to verify the system is setup correctly and to provide final sign off.

What are the differences between virtual and real flight?

The big difference is these simulators have no motion and therefore do not provide any of the “seat of the pants” feedback to pilots.  However, many phases of flight are exactly the same such as you would expect in a real aircraft:

  • Aircraft pre-flight - you can teach/learn about how to pre-fight an aircraft by doing a virtual walkaround
  • Engine startup and systems power up
  • How to taxi an aircraft both with a steerable nose wheel (Cirrus and Piper) and castering nose wheel (Cirrus)
  • The mechanics of a takeoff roll, rotation, and climb out (ie looking for proper engine performance, airspeed alive, rotation speed, pitch for speed, and maintaining climb speed)
  • The mechanics of learning aircraft control, pitch, bank, roll maneuvers
  • The mechanics of what happens in a stall or spin (even though the “feel” won’t be there)
  • Using the avionics for basic aircraft control as well as advanced navigation procedures
  • Using the autopilot
  • Flying instrument approaches by hand and fully coupled to autopilot
  • The mechanics of flying a pattern, approach, and landing and stopping using different braking techniques
  • Aircraft shutdown procedures

How many hours can be earned in a simulator towards my instrument rating?

The FAA allows up to 10 hours of BATD usage towards an instrument rating.  Once the instrument rating is achieved, the FAA allows all the currency requirements to be completed on the BATD (6 approaches, holds, missed approaches in 6 months).

Can I add any more components to the simulator? 

No, no other hardware components can be added to the simulator without invalidating the LoA.  There may be some software modifications that can be added as long as they do not modify the simulation software itself (for example using PilotEdge for real ATC communications).

BATD Flight Simulator

1 comment

  • I would like to order a flight Sim for SR 22T but I’ll be receiving in December 15 from the factory

    Greg Gruett

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