Get extra lift from AOPA. Start your free trial today! Click here
Aircraft Spruce logo
Sponsored by Aircraft Spruce

Training and Safety Tip: Simulated experience

Sharpen your skills between flights

Winter weather may keep you on the ground more than you’d like this time of year, depending on where you live. But that doesn’t mean flight training has to pause.

Photo by Chris Rose.

With the wide availability of flight simulation today, you can continue to learn between flight lessons. Simulation is even used by certificated pilots as a convenient and cost-effective tool for refresher training.

It can be overwhelming to learn new procedures, how to use the radios, and a myriad of other tasks while also flying an airplane and navigating. Properly managed and used, a simulated flight environment is less stressful and allows you to focus on learning specific elements, where errors and distractions can be better evaluated and managed.

Many procedural skills (such as performing a prelanding checklist) during ground training can be accomplished using simulation. In addition, operational skills (such as flying a proper traffic pattern or a stabilized approach) can also be managed using simulation. These procedural and operational skills can then be positively transferred to appropriate actions in the aircraft.

In addition to FAA-approved simulation—for example, an aviation training device (ATD), which is a training device other than a full flight simulator (FFS) or a flight training device (FTD)—there are several types of simulators, and many aviation enthusiasts have versions on their home computer. There are numerous benefits to practicing with those home-based simulators. Even these can be useful tools for pilots to familiarize themselves with and practice tasks such as cross-country flying, air traffic communication, using electronic resources, decision making, planning, and proper checklist flows. However, there are limitations on what simulation “time” can be applied toward the total time needed for a pilot certificate; consult FAR Part 61 and related guidance. Talk to your CFI about this and perhaps expand the simulation training time.

Today, technology provides an extraordinary opportunity for students and instructors to train between actual flights, which will result in retained knowledge and less time revisiting previous lessons.

So when the visibility is reduced, winds are howling, and snow showers are in the vicinity, let the simulated flight experience begin!

ASI Staff

Kathleen Vasconcelos

Kathleen Vasconcelos is an instrument-rated flight instructor and a commercial pilot with multiengine and instrument ratings. She lives in New Hampshire.
Topics: Training and Safety, Student, Flight School
aircraft spruce logo

Aircraft Spruce

Sponsor of the AOPA Air Safety Institute's Training and Safety Tips
Aircraft Spruce provides virtually everything a pilot or aircraft owner might need. As a Strategic Partner since 2012, the company sponsors programs that bring hands-on knowledge and DIY spirit to AOPA members.