Flight School Economics: Measuring the Value of AATD Simulators in Training Programs

Flight training has always been an expensive endeavor, with aspiring pilots facing substantial costs for lessons, aircraft rental, and other associated expenses. However, with the addition of Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD) simulators, flight schools possess a powerful tool that can enhance training while reducing student costs, and increasing revenue for the flight school. In this article, we'll explore the cost-benefit analysis of integrating AATD simulators into flight schools.

1. Payback Period

The initial investment in AATD simulators may seem significant, but the quick ROI is two-fold, not only does it instantly enhance the available training tools, but with a payback period as little as 3 months, the system quickly becomes a profitable asset. the long run. System such as the SRx AATD help reduce the number of hours students need to spend in actual aircraft. Fewer flight hours translate to lower aircraft rental costs and fuel expenses, making it easier for flight schools to recoup their initial investment. The example below shows just how quickly a school can become profitable with its AATD investment. 

For this example we depict a school that as recently purchased our SRx AATD with the triple screen option. The hours per month are based on the average time that schools see their AATD rented. The hourly rate is the lower range of $100-$150 that is commonly seen around the industry.

Initial Cost: $36,275

Rental Hrs per/month

Hourly rate

Monthly revenue

Payback period




5 months




4 months




3 months

Keep in mind the hours and rate used in this example are on the lower end of the industry average. Depending on the need in your market, the hourly rate could be significantly higher which only expedites your payback period. 

2. Training More Students

An AATD simulator enables flight schools to train more students simultaneously. Unlike real aircraft, simulators aren't bound by weather conditions or aircraft availability. This increased throughput allows flight schools to accommodate a larger number of students without the need for additional aircraft or instructors. This expansion of capacity can significantly boost revenue.

In addition, the simulator can be used in lieu of the aircraft in some cases, thereby freeing up an aircraft that may have sat on the ground while the student learned the avionics (at likely no cost).

3. Enhancing Training

High-fidelity systems such as the SRx AATD provide a safe and controlled environment for trainees to practice various flight scenarios. These simulators can replicate a wide range of weather conditions, emergencies, and difficult procedures. This versatility enhances the quality of training, ensuring that students are well-prepared for real-world flying. As the aviation industry begs for pilots, students are looking for flight schools that can help them achieve their ratings in a quick and safe manner. There is no need to rush training, but having an AATD will ensure a higher quality of training and appeal to more prospective students in the long run.

4. Maintenance and Operating Costs

AATD simulators come with little to no operating costs. The SRx AATD carries a simple $1500/year maintenance plan… meaning no hourly costs, no overhaul costs, no extra support cost. Over time, these reduced costs can add up, contributing to the overall cost-effectiveness of using an AATD.

5. Instructor Efficiency

Instructors can efficiently monitor and assess student progress in AATD simulators. They have the ability to pause, rewind, and review flight sessions, allowing for immediate feedback and correction. This level of engagement and feedback can accelerate the learning process, ultimately reducing the number of flight hours needed before students are ready for their check rides.


AATD simulators offer numerous advantages that can outweigh their initial investment costs for flight schools. These simulators provide an efficient way to enhance training quality, increase student throughput, and reduce overall training expenses. Flight schools that integrate a system such as the RealSimGear SRx into their programs often experience a shorter payback period, improved profitability, and a competitive edge in the aviation education industry. While the initial investment may seem daunting, the long-term benefits make AATD simulators a smart choice for flight schools looking to provide top-notch training while remaining cost-effective.