Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology is a prominent voice in the aviation space. These blogs are for informational purposes only and are meant to spark discussions within the aviation industry on a variety of topics.
In the earliest days of aviation, several hurdles in training pilots became quickly apparent: Airplanes are expensive, pilot trainees are risking life and limb with every flight, and there are frequently no "do-overs" if you make a mistake in the air. Professional flight simulators were developed so that pilot trainees could learn to more safely operate an aircraft before actually going up in the air.
The official FAA term for flight simulators is Aviation Training Device (ATD). In fact, the only device with the word simulator is the Full Flight Simulator (FFS) used by airlines with is a very high level of fidelity. The FAA calls all of the devices Aviation Training Devices with these four different types FFS, FTD, AATD, BATD – Spartan has 2 AATDs and one Level 5 Flight Training Device (FTD).
Today, most flight schools in America have some sort of professional flight simulator to help train new pilots. And at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, we have several flight simulators at our Tulsa flight school, including a Level 5 FTD and motion base advanced aviation training device (AATD). If you attend a modern flight school, simulators are going to be a big part of your training as you work toward a pilot's certificate (license).
So, exactly what is a flight simulator? And what are some of the cool things they can teach you? Keep reading to find out!
A flight simulator is a machine that uses a combination of computer technology, motion, sound and other inputs to mimic what it's like to fly an airplane. A simulator reproduces the equations that control how a real airplane maneuvers, how a plane reacts when you manipulate the flight controls, and how a plane responds to weather and other external forces.
A pilot trainee sits in the simulator cockpit and learns to fly a plane with an instructor present. The cockpit has all the same controls and flight instruments of a real plane, so the training is (almost) identical to what the trainee will experience in the air. This is one of the safest ways to train pilots for real-world applications, so that they will be able to safely fly and land a plane. More advanced types of simulators also use motion and sound to train pilots for advanced maneuvers.
When you go through our 17-month Aviation Flight pilot training program in Tulsa, OK, you will get plenty of time in the simulators as you learn the ropes. This allows trainees to practice flying safely on the ground before getting in the cockpit of a real Piper Archer TX, Piper Seminole, or Cessna 172R. Here are five cool things that flight simulators can teach you.
Flying an airplane requires knowing exactly what you’re doing at all times, where you're taking off from, where you're going to land, what other planes are in the air at the same time, and what landscape or weather elements you will encounter along the way. A pilot also needs to know how to use both visual flight rules and later learn to fly under instrument flight rules (VFR/IFR). Knowing how to navigate using flight instruments alone is critically important, especially if you encounter unexpected weather.
All of these contingencies and more can be programmed into a flight simulator so that a pilot trainee can practice in a safe, enclosed environment. Want to take off in Tulsa, Oklahoma and land in Rochester, New York? You can do that safely from the comfort of a flight simulator.
An entire route for a training flight can be programmed into the simulator ahead of time. You will be taking off and landing (in the simulator) at real-world runway layouts. The simulated flight will traverse over real lakes, rivers, roads, airports, mountains and other landmarks. Thanks to the navigational procedures you learn in the classroom and the simulator, you will be able to plan a flight path, pick out stopping points along the route, and safely make the entire journey from takeoff to landing.
If you took a driver's ed course as a teenager, you may have had a section where you learned skid control with your instructor. Practicing skid control maneuvers in a safe environment helps a driver become better prepared for a real-world skid. The same principle applies to an airplane.
Just like any other type of machine, an aircraft can sometimes experience a mechanical failure. And unfortunately, this does not always happen when the plane is conveniently on the ground. A lot of different types of aircraft failures can be reproduced on a flight simulator.
Electrical malfunctions, , ice buildup on the wings, and other real-world problems can be programmed into the simulator and practiced. This allows pilot trainees to practice maneuvers and work on safely landing an aircraft if they encounter trouble in the skies.
If you've ever watched a movie with pilots and aircraft in it, you probably noticed that there are a lot of complex radio communication involved. Pilots have to be able to communicate effectively and quickly with air traffic control (ATC) and other pilots in the air. And we'll be honest: There are so many different phrases that it's a bit intimidating for many new pilots at first.
You will be working on radio communication a lot during your in-class instruction at flight school, so that they eventually become second nature. Another way to hone those skills, however, is while using a flight simulator. You will be working on the correct phrases with your instructor and relaying information back and forth with an instructor, to make the experience as realistic as possible.
The flight simulator makes learning those tricky procedures a more relaxed experience, so that you are fully prepared before takeoff in a real plane.
You won't become a full-time meteorologist after completing flight school, but you will be able to read weather reports information and weather patterns better than the average person. During extreme weather events, planes are sometimes grounded at many airports across the US. But sometimes a bad storm can pop up unexpectedly — especially in tornado country here in Oklahoma, by the way!
Using a flight simulator, you will become more adept at avoiding rain, snow, sleet, or ice under controlled conditions. Inclement weather can be programmed into the simulator, and you can practice flying through marginal weather and over various types of terrain. It's always best to avoid inclement weather entirely, but sometimes that is just not possible. Your time in a flight simulator gets you prepared for those "worst case scenarios."
Training in a flight simulator helps you to build muscle memory for different scenarios, so the things you need to do to stay safe in the air become second nature. If you make a mistake in the simulator, such as putting in the wrong coordinates, miscommunicating with air traffic control, messing up a maneuver, or even crashing the plane, you can simply start over.
You can reset the route and try again, until everything is properly learned. Because you are able to quickly recreate these procedures, it lets you build up your knowledge and skills very quickly and without any negative consequences.
Constant practice is another benefit that working on a flight simulator provides. Flight school itself is rigorous, and even after you earn your various pilot's certificate, you will still need to be constantly practicing to keep up your proficiency and skills. Flying a plane is not like riding a bicycle!
Another really nice thing about a flight simulator is that if you want to practice a flight using instrument flight rules (IFR). In a real-world situation, you would need to travel to the airport, go through pre-flight checks, file a flight plan, monitor the weather, take off, go on the flight, and land the plane.
Flight simulators enhance and accelerate a student pilot's learning, while maintaining the highest safety standards.
After you enroll in our aviation flight pilot's program at Spartan College of Aeronautics and Technology, you will be working with Senior Flight Instructors and mentors as you work toward obtaining a pilot's certificate . A typical week will involve plenty of in-classroom instruction, time in our flight simulators, and multiple times in the air in a real aircraft. Once a student masters the materials on the ground and in the simulators, they will take the controls with an instructor by their side.
You will become very familiar with working in a flight simulator while studying in our Aviation Flight program at Spartan College, because it is one of the best -- and safest -- methods for learning how to fly a modern aircraft. As you practice cockpit procedures and advanced maneuvers on the ground, you will be tested on concepts before actually applying them in a real aircraft.
If you are looking to fulfill a dream of training to become a pilot, Spartan College is here to help direct you in that journey, while providing the best possible training in our new Piper Archer training aircraft. Contact us today to learn more about starting the Aviation Flight pilot program at Spartan College.
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