Flight Simulator Games – Do They Have a Role in Training Pilots?

Flight simulator games have become very sophisticated in recent times such that pilots of full size aircraft use them to gain knowledge of destination airports, for route planning and to gain familiarity with different aircraft types. They are available in basic and advanced levels.

The Australian Civil Aviation Safety Authority (CASA) is exploring the mandatory use of simulators for certain aspects of pilot training and exploring which types of training might be more suited to them. At present there is no regulatory requirement for simulator training in Australia. It is well known that there are inherent dangers in conducting simulated emergencies in actual aircraft and serious accidents have occurred in the past during flight training such an engine failure.

CASA has issued a discussion paper with 12 options to be considered covering flight training operations.

The question asked is whether mandatory simulator training should only be imposed if suitable devices exist in Australia. What criteria would be used to determine which devices are suitable? Obviously there would be a number of impacts on the aviation industry were CASA to make that ruling so CASA is giving all interested parties an opportunity to comment and put forward suggestions.

There is a time limit for input of February 19th 2010. There is no indication that flight simulator games will be included in the discussion.

Is this an issue in other countries? Certainly some regulatory bodies already mandate use of simulators for non-normal or emergency procedures training or for training in large aircraft.

Were simulator training to become mandatory, availability and access to full size simulators may be an issue.

If advanced level flight simulator games could provide some aspects of training there would be a significant cost reduction and there would be no issue of availability.

The quality of the computer graphics is very high in today’s flight simulator games providing very real avionic cockpit displays such that they can be used by student and qualified pilots as well as for entertainment.

Flight simulator games do not generally provide physical movement but visually they are becoming increasingly more realistic, many of them already have the ability to provide non-normal or emergency situations and also to provide severe or changeable weather conditions.

If flight simulator games were to be considered for inclusion in the discussion I have no doubt that there would be regulatory issues in assessing which of them could qualify for use and how they would be monitored particularly as the software is under continual development.

Aircraft operators, pilots and flight training organisations are urged to participate in the discussion so if you are an interested party, have your say now. http://casa.gov.au search for “flight simulator discussion paper”

Article by Steve W. Barker. Steve builds and flies large scale radio controlled model aircraft, he uses a flight simulator game for practise http://bestflightsimulatorgames.com and also flies in full size aircraft when ever the opportunity arises. Steve served in the Royal Air Force as a Navigator in the late 1960s and has a life long love of aircraft. To access the flight simulator games visit http://bestflightsimulatorgames.com

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