I was doing a bit of gadget shopping at Westfield recently and I saw this – a flight simulator experience in a shop! It’s also available at the Bluewater mall in Kent. I didn’t have a go – I already have a licence! – but there’s a nice video that shows you what you get and you can get more detail, prices and booking information from iPILOT. Prices start at £69 for half an hour.
As we noted last week (Are there limits to simulator training?), Paul Bertorelli had written an interesting post about the limits of simulator training and in a follow-up post, he noted that he had since received a trickle of (interesting) email about his original post. He noted that one email was from:
….a long-time contributor railing about the inadequacies of modern training and, especially the alarming attitude of some pilots who rely entirely on cutting-edge systems, never giving a second thought to the underlying skills required to survive if those systems fail. He was talking about over reliance on glass and GPS, but it could be any cutting-edge system in the modern airplane
Paul then wrote that we have been having such conversations or debates for about 200 years now. In other words, the debate over simulator training and its limits is just another chapter in the classic confrontation between the traditionalists and the modernists.
However, Paul then asked how you can tell if:
…your insistence that the old way of doing things is a vital primary skill or if you’re just clinging to some ancient procedure in defiance of progress that has rendered it obsolete. In other words, you’ve crossed the line into old fartism.
He then gave two examples of what he viewed as “old fartism” in aviation. First, he noted that not too long after GPS approaches became common, he stopped bothering with NBD approaches on instrument proficiency checks. The reason? GPS approaches are much more accurate and safer plus it required more time to teach. Hence, he dropped NDB approaches – unless a pilot insisted on learning them and had the time.
Paul also added:
Then there’s the dead reckoning fantasy. We still spend time teaching primary students to plot a course and build a nav log, something that few will ever use. Maybe none will ever use. It’s a warm and familiar process that we imagine to be a fundamental airman skill — but we don’t use it, so why teach it?
At the end of his post, Paul pointed out that an astonishing 58% Skylane accidents relate to runway loss of control – mainly on landings. His point? Learning “silly stuff” like dead reckoning does build some aviation skills, but it gets in the way of spending time on learning the stuff that really matters – like basic aircraft control, basic instrument work and of course landings. Important points worth thinking about.
About a month ago, both Paul Bertorelli (The Limits of Simulator Training)and Mary Grady (Report: Simulator Training Flawed) pointed out an article in USA Today where it was noted that problems stemming from simulator training had been cited as contributing factors in airline accidents that also caused more than half of the 522 airline accident fatalities over the last decade. Apparently, the NTSB cited deficient crosswind simulator training as a factor in the December 2008 accident in Denver when a Continental 737 ran off the runway. In addition, insufficient simulator training for icing was also cited as a factor in last year’s fatal Colgan Air crash while simulator exercises giving pilots a false sense of how the rudder would respond to inputs was cited as a factor in the November 2001 crash of an American Airlines A300 in which 265 people died.
However and in his post, Paul questioned the findings by asking:
Could this really be? To me, it just doesn’t pass the smell test. Further digging into the story revealed that while the NTSB cited simulator training shortcomings as a factor in the Denver crash, it seemed to concede a certain far-outishness to the finding. It gets down to this: To what degree can you expect to train pilots in weird abnormals? Where do you draw the line and simply decide to take your chances?
He further added that:
In any case, shouldn’t a pilot bring to the table certain basic skills—like knowing a stall when he sees one or noticing that his knuckles are being rapped by a stick shaker? Sometimes there’s just not much you can do about ten-to-the-ninth accidents and I’m wondering if these two don’t qualify. Which is another way of saying USA Today has again overstated the case and I feel for the hapless reading public unversed in the finer points of aviation risk.
Paul also noted his experience in a navy flight simulator when he ended up taking off into a ditch due to a navy tradition of setting a 100-knot crosswind for all first takeoffs in their flight simulator. He then pointed out that even when he knew the 100-knot crosswind was coming, he still could not keep the Tomcat on the runway (but the navy already has a solution for this: They simply turn the ship into the wind).
Hence, we want to hear what you our readers think – especially anyone who has ever had flight simulator training: Are there reasonable limits to simulator flight training? Moreover, what are your thoughts about simulator flight training for general aviation pilots and how extensive should such (if any) training be? Let us know your thoughts.
Are flight simulators of any help while learning to fly? I suspect that real live experience is the best, any input would be greatly appreciated.
Flight Instructor Paul commented that if you asked 10 different flight instructors, you would probably get 10 different answers. However, he noted that he used flight simulators during his instrument training and it helped him immensely as he found them to be a very valuable training aid. Then he added that as a flight instructor, he has found that flight simulators are not as helpful during primary training since student pilots who have used flight simulators heavily will tend to need more encouragement “to keep their eyeballs outside the cockpit where they should be during private pilot training.”
Meanwhile, pilot Matthew Hammer noted that while they are excellent for training procedures, flight simulators aren’t so great for teaching would-be pilots how to actually fly simply because you “don’t have the same visual references, you don’t experience any G-loads, and the control pressures are virtually never realistic.”
Hence, we want to ask you our readers what you think: Did you use a flight simulator when you learned how to fly? If so, do you believe that flight simulators are actually useful when learning how to fly? Moreover, when and how should they be used? We would also like to hear the opinion of pilots who learned to fly before there were flight simulators.
Fly in for free at this popular and friendly event where Flight1 showcase the best in PC based flight simulation.
They will be paying the landing fee for anyone flying in to see them on the day.
The Flight1 2010 Open Day will be again hosted at Shoreham Airport with the aim of giving a relaxed environment and plenty of time to meet and talk about aviation, simulation and no doubt the weather too!
With Shoreham Airport celebrating its 100 year anniversary as an operational airport and the summer skies buzzing with aircraft, it should be a great day.
Last year Flight1 welcomed nearly 500 flight simulator enthusiasts and pilots alike, creating a very special and exciting atmosphere as tips and tricks of the trade were discussed and new friends made.
Flight1 will have a wide range of simulation software and hardware on show for visitors to try from their GA training software, the latest aircraft and airliner add-ons to our range of ‘Environment’ packages that are transforming Flight Simulator X like never before.
The best bit is that this will again be open to all and is totally FREE, including your landing fee if flying in for the event.
Although free, Flight1 ask that in order to guarantee your entry that you register at www.flight1.com/openday – if you are planning of taking advantage of the free landing please let them know when registering.
John Fiscus, the Chief Pilot of The Flight Academy, has recently posted a video on to the Cirrus Owners & Pilots Association (COPA) website where he demonstrates a VFR departure briefing and then a departure which utilizes some of that briefing. In his post, John made an interesting point that:
Many people I train with aren’t as ready as they ought to be for anything beyond the norm to happen in those first few seconds of flight. Performing a VFR departure briefing is a good way to prepare for the unexpected… and ensure the appropriate (and timely) reaction!
He also noted that:
A VFR departure briefing is going to be difficult for most established pilots to start performing. I have heard the excuses, but they really boil down to, "I have been flying this long and it works fine. I know what to do if something happens, I can handle this."
However, John then mentioned that when he see pilots doing simulator training, many aren’t all that prepared to make a tough call fast. Furthermore, he noted that many experienced Cirrus pilots don’t pull the CAPS handle soon enough – especially when a low altitude engine failure is simulated and time is short.
The video is less than six minutes long and hence is worth watching.