Flight training technology has skyrocketed in recent years. Not just in its prevalence but also in its technological advancements. Ranging from simplistic PC driven programs that can be run from the comfort of a home office to multi-million dollar virtual cockpits utilized and designed specifically for aerospace and military applications and training. Pilots can now hone their flight skills, prepare for simulated emergencies, or log qualifying hours in cockpits that have been designed to look, feel, and operate like a the real thing, realistic motion simulation and engine or propeller vibration included.
Simulators also allow budding pilots realistic environments and simulations of actual airports to test their skills on a wide variety of planes and terrains. Some flight simulations are so advanced that they are beginning to track the brain waves of the test pilots. Flight simulator technology just may forever revolutionize the way pilots learn to fly and operate aircraft.
Flight simulator technologies can vary and before any pilot slaps down their credit card for thousands of dollars for a couple hours of virtual experience, it’s important to understand the differences and intentioned purposes associated with each type of simulation technology.
The FSTD or Flight Simulator Training Devices, are large full-flight simulators. These training simulators have be designed, utilized, and operated by some of the largest airlines and aviation companies on the planet. These are some of the most topnotch, state of the art, technologies available. These flight simulators are built to mimic specific aircraft cockpits. Complete with full instrumentation, heads up display, virtual reality and motion technology, this type of flight simulation will ensure pilots get the most realistic flight experience without actually leaving the ground.
FTDs, or Flight Training Devices, are similar to the FSTD but not quit as advanced. These flight simulators are designed to give pilots training and experience on a variety of specific aircraft lines or types. These simulators feature accurate aerodynamics and flight modeling for a large set of aircraft, but typically lack motion simulations. These are the devices most pilots will have access to at any general aviation training center.
The Personal Computer Aviation Device, or PCATD, is a PC driven program first designed by Microsoft. This type of flight simulator is being utilized as a teaching tool for thousands of pilots in training. The FAA has even allowed pilots the ability to accumulate up to 10 hours of their required 40 hours of instrument rating time. This type of PC training system has made major advancements since its inception. PCATDs offer pilots a high level of realistic operations, yet do not reach the advanced levels of fully inclusive flight simulators.
The advantage of a PCATD flight simulator is its ability to be run from the comfort of your home computer. To give hopeful pilots the feeling of real flight, many computer device manufactures have begun to design and create flight training controls like, yokes, instrument stacks and rudder pedals. These additions can make a very convincing flight experience for any pilot wishing to hone their flight instrument skills from the safety and comfort of their own homes. The BATD, or Basic Aviation Training Device, and AATD, or Advanced Aviation Training Device, are the newest additions to the PC flight simulating device technologies. These upgraded versions of the PCATD take advantage of new more powerful PC technology, and offer a more robust version of the original PC driven systems. Most of these newer systems require the use of peripheral flight controls and instrumentations in lue of typical computer interfaces like the keyboard and mouse.
The future of flight simulators seem to have no bounds save actual flight. New electronic innovations will allow future simulator technologies the ability to incorporate very realistic flight control systems which will act, feel, and respond like the actual aircraft controls would durning flight. While these advancements have already been incorporated into some of today’s most advanced flight simulators, in the future these new advancements will begin to trickle down to the PC systems as well. Flight simulators have traditionally been designed to train pilots on instrumentations and procedures, not actual flight.
The flight simulators of tomorrow are looking to change that distinction, and in order to do so have begun to develop and incorporate advanced technologies, like motion control and reaction to crosswind landing procedures and stall recovery techniques. Some companies like Cessna have begun to develop their own flight simulator training systems, which have video based instruction and demos on advance flying and land procedures, designed exclusively for their planes. These video demonstrations have eliminated the need for pilots in training to reserve actual certified flight instructors, potentially saving time and money for pilots in training.
As companies compete for space in this fast growing sector, the future of flight simulation is becoming more advanced and more affordable then ever. Both novice and professional pilots can find aviation tech accessories, including simulator software, by shopping for tools at pilotmall.com and other online destinations. With the use of flight training simulation technology, the time has never been better, cheaper or safer to begin your flight training.