The Importance of Using Flight Simulators in Flight Schools

Flight Schools Using Flight Simulators 

There are close to 1,000 flight schools throughout North America; Florida has the most (156), followed by California (136). Flight Schools offer both initial and recurrent flight training to help prepare student pilots looking to either pass an FAA practical test flight for a specific pilot rating or to help experienced pilots practice and refresh their knowledge and skills for the rating(s) they currently hold. With initial or new ratings in hand, pilots can now fly aircraft they’re appropriately rated for in National Airspace under private or commercial standards (as examined). These institutions will have experienced and professional instructors, their own fleet of aircraft, and a great support network of fellow trainees. Equally important, many of the flight schools have simulators for students to use as a training aid. It’s no surprise that simulators are a great resource for aviation students to help learn the system and procedures in a relaxed and safe environment. Before settling into the cockpit of an airplane, flight simulators prepare the student with what to expect in any phase of flight. In this article, we’ll be going over the importance of utilizing a flight simulator during flight training. 

Provides Various Types of Training Experiences

Flight simulators are a great educational resource for student pilots. The use of a flight simulator is not meant as an alternative to real-world flight training, but should be viewed as a way to supplement and enhance the training you get with your CFI. Whether that be understanding and becoming familiar with each button, knob, and switch in the cockpit, properly utilizing the landing gear, or even adjusting to the current weather conditions - a flight simulator will do it all and with the safety of staying on the ground. Here are a few scenarios where a simulator would better serve the student pilot, or experienced pilot, rather than learning while flying an actual aircraft.

Emergency Scenarios 

Having the ability to practice in-flight emergencies and risky situations before you step into the cockpit is extremely valuable. Performing those in-flight emergencies in real life is dangerous, so using a flight simulator to try those precarious situations without the threat of any true danger is another benefit of a flight simulator. It allows the student pilot, or experienced pilot, to have the ability to train for scenarios in a risk-free setting that incorporates all components of flying. This will help both student and experienced pilots learn to identify, assess, mitigate, and gain confidence in those risks to learn how to avoid those situations. 

Complex Scenarios 

Being comfortable with your avionics is so crucial in becoming a great pilot. Knowledge is derived from some success but primarily because of many failures. However, making mistakes or errors while flying a plane can be more costly than on the ground. Have you ever botched a maneuver, had a miscommunication with air traffic control (ATC), or had a wrong coordinate input? We all have, we’re human and make mistakes which is why repetition, performed correctly, is so important. Repeating these procedures just builds knowledge and more importantly, muscle memory so you are totally prepared when you hop in the real cockpit. That's why a flight simulator can be so beneficial when learning to fly in complex scenarios. Student pilots, and even experienced pilots, will be less anxious in the air and have better muscle memory with the controls after practicing in the safety of a simulator. 

home flight simulators

Flight Simulators Reduce Training Costs

Learning to fly in an aircraft is one of the most amazing things anyone can do. But it can get expensive. By far the biggest benefit to using a flight simulator is reducing the costs by spending time using a flight simulator. Having the ability to practice maneuvers and procedures in a flight simulator before your lesson, at your own pace, can significantly reduce the amount of time required in a real airplane, with the engine running and your CFI. Every person learns at a different rate and in different ways. Having a pilot be able to practice at their own pace allows them to learn without the pressure of being intimidated by an instructor. And most importantly, you can work on a specific skill repeatedly without too much wasted time getting set up for your maneuver. For instance, a student who is practicing landings can simply reset to final approach in seconds rather than taking the time to go back around through the airport’s landing pattern. 

Logging Simulator Time in Your Pilot Logbook As Training Time

Flight Simulators can also be very cost-effective for Flight Schools, for both student and experienced pilots alike. The FAA now allows you to enter simulator time in your pilot logbook as training time with certain BATD Flight Simulators. It’s important to know that you cannot count these hours as flight time but nonetheless, simulator time can be logged. Like any job position, it’s important to stay up to speed with all the basic mechanics. With the RealSimGear certified BATD flight simulators you now have an FAA approved way to log time and maintain currency requirements. If your instrument rating has already been achieved, the FAA allows all the currency requirements to be completed on the BATD (6 instrument approaches, holding procedures, and intercepting and tracking courses using navigational systems).

Keeping Student Pilots Engaged

Ask any teacher or instructor, keeping students engaged is a difficult but important task when training a student of any kind. Flight Schools are no exception to this and flight simulators offer more opportunities to fly, even when the conditions may not be favorable. As you know, your flying technique needs to adapt to the weather conditions – whether it involves rain, snow, wind, or ice. Rather than waiting for these weather conditions to occur, we can recreate these efficiently and safely with flight simulation, giving the student plenty of opportunities to practice in the process. One of the more exciting aspects of flight training is learning how to plan and fly to an airport outside your local training area. More than likely, there will be new traffic patterns, runway layouts, terrain, taxiways, and aircraft parking spots. So how will you prepare for this trip?  A flight simulator will help with the planning process, including preflight weather, route planning, dead reckoning, researching the details of the arrival airport, and flying the flight many times in the sim before actually flying it in the real aircraft.

Increased Customer Retention

With so many options for flight schools, it’s becoming more crucial than ever to attract new students and differentiate yourself from the hundreds of other schools. A flight simulator can play a vital role in appealing to experienced pilots and student pilots who could learn how to operate new equipment in a shorter amount of time, at a smaller cost,  and without compromising their decision-making skills in the air. Inversely, pilots may be even more inclined to stay with a Flight School well after they get their license because the flight simulator is more accessible and cheaper to use than renting a plane. 

New Revenue Opportunities

Another great advantage for flight schools and training facilities with simulators is the new streams of revenue other than in-air lessons. May it be an issue with the weather, aircraft, or even the flight instructors, the use of flight simulators will allow the business to still have some sort of simulator lesson or rental, especially for instrument recurrency which requires no instructor to oversee the simulator session.

Can a flight simulator be used for pilot training?

Absolutely! When you increase the immersion, you accelerate knowledge. The more realistic you can get with your simulators the more applicable it is to fly in real life. That’s why adding avionic controls makes the simulator experience more realistic and enjoyable.  

What flight simulators do flight schools use?

Flight schools use a variety of simulators for their flight training. RealSimGear can help you customize a flight simulator that meets the needs of your school and students.

Does a flight simulator help with flight training?

Learning to fly an airplane requires the ability to process and synthesize a great deal of information as well as put it into action. It demands a lot of concentration and practicing procedures. Repeating those procedures on a simulator just builds knowledge and, more importantly, muscle memory, so you are totally prepared when you hop in the cockpit

Can you become a pilot with a flight simulator?

You can’t get your license using a flight simulator alone. Still, you can effectively practice all your maneuvers and procedures with a simulator, significantly reducing the amount of time you need in the real aircraft. Ten thousand dollars is about the minimum cost to get a private pilot's license, with additional ratings such as an instrument rating, costing more.

What is the best flight simulator program?

The best flight simulator is a simulator that mimics the exact aircraft that you are going to fly, including the flight performance modeling and on-board systems and avionics.  Flight simulator programs have a wide variety of aircrafts to choose from, allowing most pilots the ability to replicate their aircraft in simulation.

How much does a flight simulator cost?

A flight simulator varies in price from a single component costing $400 to a full-motion simulator for over $100k. We put together a great article that covers the various costs of setting up A Flight Simulator. There is a wide range of options and price points in each category to choose from, allowing you to customize your controls.

What is needed for a flight simulator?

The basic setup that is required is a PC, Monitor, Software, and any components you want to create. Here is A Simple Guide to Building A Home Simulator

How much does a Cessna 172 simulator cost?

A Cessna 172 Simulator will cost at least $2,472. Here’s the breakdown on Setting Up A Cessna 172 Home Simulator