A pilot named George has recently posted a question on on Ask a CFI about what the best flight simulator software to buy for home computer use:
My set up now is CH ruder CH yoke CH avionics panel windows XP.
Looking for software to practice IFR
Don’t care about the big airplanes just single engine steam gages user friendly.
Carl Tyler responded by writing that he personally uses Microsoft Flight Simulator (FSX) because it supported all his plugin accessories right out of the box e.g. rudders, radio panel etc. He had also tried XPlane but he didn’t like the user interface while trying to get it to work with his pedals and other accessories was “way too difficult.” Of course, Microsoft has ceased development on the Microsoft Flight Simulator but Carl still thinks its a great piece of software and perfect for practicing those IFR approaches.
A quick Internet search reveals a few other sources for commentary about flight simulators for IFR practice, including a Best IFR Sim software thread from the Pilots of America Message Board and another webpage entitled Using Flight Sims for IFR Practice which appears to date from over a decade ago but made the interesting observation that:
In real IFR flying, radios must be retuned in real time. Sometimes there isn’t a lot of spare time to do this. You can’t pull over and stop while you twiddle knobs. (But you may be able to activate an autopilot, which is almost as good.) Very high end sims have radios that work just like the radio stack in a real airplane.
Finally, another good and very comprehensive source for information about flight simulator software is AVSIM Community Forums which calls itself the largest repository of flight sim information available as it has over 2 million messages and over 200 forums.