Top 5 Differences between Flight Simulators & Being in the Air
From the childhood days of making paper airplanes and model aircraft to adventuring on flight rides at attractions and arcades, most of us have simulated flight in one way or another. In fact, even when airplanes were first invented, models and simulators were used to demonstrate the principles of flight to aspiring pilots and mechanics.
According to the FAA Regulation, a Full Flight Simulator (FFS) “must duplicate the controls, avionics and the flying characteristics of the actual specific aircraft.” There is much debate over whether or not airplane simulators can compare to or accurately prepare one for real flight. Here are a few key differences and similarities between the two and how they can affect your experience with flight.
1. Weather the Elements
The primary and most obvious difference between simulation and real world flying is that even the most high-tech simulators cannot perfectly portray actual weather or the natural flow of air and its relationship to aviation. However, most digital simulators do allow you to change settings to various weather conditions, views, and obstacles. This also means you can practice making tricky crosswind landings or weathering a storm without the danger of trying your first time in real flight. Each time you set on a simulated flight you can make little adjustments and then apply your strategy when you get behind the cockpit.
2. Keep Your Focus
Studies show that 90% of your attention should be on the outside of your aircraft with only 10% to quick glances in the cockpit in order to verify what you are seeing. Yet, flight simulators have tendencies of turning the attention inward to the controls and buttons of the inside of the plane instead of the digital world on the screen. The good part is that simulators do allow you to continuously practice with the controls so that when you’re up in the real air you can focus more on your surroundings than on learning how to operate in the cockpit.
3. Room for Mistakes
Once you are up in the air, facing the elements and in control of your aircraft, you don’t have time nor can you take the risk of just learning as you go along. In real flight, perfecting one technique means starting the flight from start to finish, putting wear and tear on your plane, and relying on the perfect weather conditions. On simulators you can slow down, pause mid-flight, practice certain operations over and over, and take risks that you should not take in the air. Students of any trade are going to make errors as it is a natural part of the learning process. Allow yourself room for mistakes in a safe simulator so you can be prepared when you’re soaring through the air.
Flight simulator training could save the lives of both the pilot and those flying with him. While it can’t totally replace the invigorating feeling of really gliding through the air, it has become a necessary part of modern aviation training and an essential tool to becoming comfortable in the cockpit. At L3 Airline Academy we guide our students through the technical training of flight simulators all the way to the thrill of flying real high-powered aircraft with precision.