Training with a flight simulator – how useful are they?

Many flight schools make use of a flight simulator as part of pilot training. A flight simulator is a piece of equipment that replicates a flight experience. Most are capable of taking all variants into consideration such as weather, other aircraft in the vicinity, controls and natural occurrences (cloud, turbulence etc).   

Since the first known simulator used in the 1920’s, the technology has come a long way and many schools now integrate simulator time with actual flying time. But what are the benefits? 

Flight simulators can teach many skills, from the  most basic to more advanced techniques. This means they can be used at any point of training or even following qualification in order to improve on skills already obtained. 

There are three levels of simulator, each more advanced than the last. Within each of those simulator types, there are additional settings to adapt to the pilot level. So there is an option available for everyone! 

They can also be programmed to simulate certain situations, which is useful for training pilots in emergency scenarios. For trainee pilots, they’re able to get a more realistic experience of a potential emergency situation than learning the theory. For fully trained pilots it gives them a refresher course on how to deal with specific conditions. 

One skill that can be built up in a simulator environment is navigation. From navigating popular, global airports to flying more locally, a simulator can replicate routes and help a trainee pilot to get used to changing flight paths and getting used to the controls whilst directing the aircraft. 

There’s also the opportunity to practise vital communication skills with flight crew and Air Traffic Control. Especially in early days of learning, the language can be difficult to remember. Even if there’s no one in the simulator with you, being in the surroundings of a simulated cockpit will help you to learn how to communicate effectively as a pilot.  

Of course, all of the above can be carried out without risk. Having a trainee pilot practising in a relaxed environment will assist the learning process and mistakes can be learnt from in safe surroundings. 

As previously mentioned, it’s not only trainee pilots that can benefit from flight simulators. Throughout your pilot career you will more than likely use simulators for additional training, learning new techniques or simply brushing up on existing skills. There’s always room for practise. 

As you can see, there are many benefits and uses for simulators, so check out what facilities flight schools have available. Simulators aid learning, allow to prepare for a variety of scenarios and help keep skills sharp. What’s more – there’s no need to wait for good weather! 

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