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IR practise software

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IR practise software

Old 4th Dec 2013, 14:54
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IR practise software

I am about to renew an IR which lapsed many years ago. Beside the necessary flight training, I'm planning to do a fair amount of procedural training on my own using a PC.

I've looked at some older threads on PPRuNe discussing the pros and cons of various simulator software in the training situation, but unfortunately I'm not much the wiser...

Many people speak highly of RANT XL, but having tried out the demo version, it seems to be best suited for learning IFR procedures, but what I need (I think) is not learning how IFR procedures work, but practicing them.

Also, RANT XL is in effect always "flown" using an autopilot/autothrottle with ALT/VS, HDG and IAS hold modes. That is surely good for learning how IFR procedures work, but not for practising. I did an essentially perfect ILS on the second try. Not that difficult when you can give your full concentration to navigating -- which of course you can't do in real life.

I want to have the distraction or "cognitive load" of keeping the simulated aircraft right side up and going in the right direction by manual control input while navigating the IFR procedures. I don't think it matters that much if the simulator doesn't handle exactly like the real aircraft.

I've also looked at the demo versions of X-plane and ELITE which both seem more like what I want. However, I've read that simulators commonly do not faithfully simulate the behavior of radio aids such as the various ADF errors, so that people pick up bad habits which later have to be unlearned in the air. This is obviously something I want to avoid...

X-plane does seem pretty good in this respect -- at least its magnetic compass exhibits the expected turning errors -- but the demo version is limited in mission time so I've not been able to check carefully. The ELITE demo version is even more limited.

I've had essentially zero experience with PC flight simulators before, so I would much appreciate some advise.

Also, how essential are rudder pedals for procedure training on a PC? Would a yoke and throttle quadrant be enough?
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Old 4th Dec 2013, 16:23
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I've just renewed a PPL/IR after a four year gap with no instrument flying. I used my PC and a flight sim to prepare for it. In my case it was an old copy of ASA's On Top, which is designed for the purpose (more recent versions still available).

What I found good was the ability to closely mirror the setup of the aircraft I was planning to do the test in (PA28 with HSI), and the airfield I was using. I wasn't too concerned about the exact handling - I was using a joystick not a yoke, no rudder pedals. The sim is actually more difficult to fly than the real thing - much less stable and more difficult to trim accurately (may be my joystick) - but that actually helps improve scan.

It didn't exactly mirror real world conditions on the instruments - the ADF tended to point at the beacon, rather than flicker +/- 10 degrees as Cambridge's does in reality, for example, but it was excellent in being able to practice a route, holds, build situational awareness etc, and flying the route in a variety of winds. You don't get Air Traffic talking to you either of course.

Highly recommended.

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Old 4th Dec 2013, 17:16
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Rant worked for me.

I found it useful setting forecast winds then "flying" my IR test approaches and holds just prior to the actual test
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Old 4th Dec 2013, 17:36
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I found X-plane V9.x most suitable if you have a good GPU card installed in your PC (about 110, I use the GTX 650 Ti). It makes a huge difference in responsiveness and detail. You can test the X-plane version in demo mode to see if your PC can handle it. MS FSX may be nice to look at, but X-plane has much more realistic feel. A good joystick or yoke with pedals and engine controls will help, but the Saitek I have seems to have an unrealistic dead region in the neutral position.
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Old 4th Dec 2013, 18:32
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A vote for Elite from me.

There are two things I find particularly useful. Firstly, you can set varying levels of turbulence, which is useful for keeping the scan sharp as you have to be much more attentive to attitude and level. Secondly, you can speed everything up (including the clock and the timer on the ADF so everything stays consistent). That is great for training - if I practice a procedure when everything's happening 10% faster, it then seems much more relaxed when I come to do it in the aircraft. It's a lot easier to stay ahead of the aircraft.

The graphics are pretty basic, which means I can run it fine on my laptop. All I need is a pretty basic joystick. It's pricey for what it is, though. Although considering the use I've got over the years, it's been worth it.

I've also used the old MS flight simulator. I never found that very useful until I got the DreamFleet Piper Archer add on, which was stunningly accurate. I used that before I ponied up for Elite. It was still very useful for the occasional VFR approach which needed a bit of forethought - Saanen, for example.
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Old 5th Dec 2013, 22:25
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Rant XL is a very good IR procedure trainer and was very useful for my IMC and IR plus I still use it to keep the mental processes sharp. Although it is sort of an autopilot mode, you do need to keep a sort of scan going too which is good practice.

The people who created/supply it are also very helpful, above and beyond the level of most software companies. I have no connection with them other than being a customer who has always received excellent service from them.
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Old 11th Feb 2014, 21:56
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VOR Tracker

For practicing on the iPhone, try VOR Tracker
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Old 20th Oct 2014, 14:40
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Although some time have passed since I actually did renew my IR, I'd like to write what I did in case it will help someone else.

I bought X-Plane, a SAITEK yoke and throttle quadrant, but no rudder pedals. It all worked very well indeed. Many real details like compass acceleration/turn errors and even ram effect on the OAT gauge are faithfully simulated!

I only have two gripes about X-plane.

- It is very difficult to re-trim as there is no artificial feedback in the yoke. For the same reason, I guess, it is easy to get into pilot induced oscillation in pitch. I made a table of the proper trim settings in various configurations and eventually figured it out.
- The aircraft I used (C172S included with X-plane) had some configuration oddities like an unslaved DG but an autopilot which used (stabilised) magnetic headings! Since the DG would (accurately) drift over time you would notice the autopilot in heading mode flying a heading different from what the DG indicated. I could fix this by reconfiguring the avionics in the "Plane Builder" program.

In the end I trained some 30 hrs using my PC and it turned out to be a tremendous help. It only took 9 hours of actual flight training to renew the IR after an 18 year lapse.
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Old 20th Oct 2014, 18:19
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Microsoft flight sim will do what you want
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Old 20th Oct 2014, 19:35
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That's possible -- but as I wrote I am quite happy with my X-plane setup, thank you.
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Old 20th Oct 2014, 22:25
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slightly off topic

does anybody have experience with the "touch trainer" system

here you can load the full panel from all aircraft such as Cirrus, Piper and Cirrus
I would consider it since it is supposed to be FAA approved

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