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Simulator Flying - is it enough?

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Simulator Flying - is it enough?

Old 28th Dec 2019, 10:06
  #21 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2012
Location: Italy
Age: 34
Posts: 33
Just my two cents here!

As a single-engine, tri-blade, european built helicopter pilot in the Alps and - eventually - the Safety Manager of the Company I was invited to tryout an Ecureuil B3 simulator because the regulators (EASA) wants us to go the "extra mile" and perform an OPC + Helicopter Training on the simulator on an annual basis.
So, together with the Crew Training Manager, I went to the simulator once and - hopefully - never again. I left home thinking that it would be a great opportunity to practice "real" emergencies for the first time and whatever...
Let me say that both of us have a good experience on the real thing, flying it daily since years up to 500/600 hours per year. Well, the first 20 minutes were literally spent fighting with the totally messed up flight dynamics and no-real-feel on the flight controls of that damn' box! If an experienced pilot has to start a training trying not to rollover on a stupid takeoff maneuver you may say that a non-experienced one will kill himself in the blink of an eye. Nothing could be further from the truth! A young boy with no hours on the real thing flown it as a long time pilot on type and in a total fluent and comfortable way!
This was the first bell ringing in my mind! But I decided to go further, accepting that a familiarisation flight with the box was necessary before doing emergencies etc. (and the instructor was not so happy with that... we were evaluating a product so, no paid hours on our side!)
It ended up that after an hour of playing around I felt myself fairly better at the controls and I was ready to do some real stuff. The next hour doing emergencies and unusual attitudes recovery was the most pointless, "untraining" and messing flight hour of my life so far... The instructor was in rush to tick boxes and show how the emergencies was real and training effective... and again nothing could be further from the truth! The damn' box never played as a real AS350, no realistic loads on the flight controls make it impossible to familiaries on the emergencies as those are supposed to develop in the real helicopter. Rush on showing the efficiency of training - in reality - shown deficiencies and limits of the simulator against the every-day-real-action.
In the end, it was an unpleasant event and I did change my mind - that was really excited - about the opportunity to use flight simulators on light helicopter to practice real emergencies.

Hope that the VR technology will close the gap between real stuff and simulate stuff, one day.
In the meantime I'm afraid that it is a waste of time and money.

PapaechoIT is offline  
Old 28th Dec 2019, 13:01
  #22 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downeast
Age: 74
Posts: 17,468
Papa and Tott make very good points.

I taught at two Factory based Sim Training operations where one operation involved flying the actual aircraft as an Instructor and Check Airman in addition to the Sim.

The first was in the very early days of Helicopter Sim training and latter was decades later.

What I noticed over the years and the difference between the two Operators was significant.

The immediate difference was at the first....you hacked it or you failed no matter what your position in the Client's Corporate Chain of Command was......and at the other....no one failed....the worst that happened is they got a change of instructor for a check ride.

The other major difference was in the real lack of progress in matching actual flight characteristics of the aircraft being modeled.

One place sought to continually improve the system on a daily basis....it was an on-going effort.

At the other place....Instructors were told to minimize the negative reactions by avoiding situations that put those short comings on display.

I am a firm believer in the Sim as a teaching aid and with the advent better visuals and systems that provide for much better coordination of the Sim and Visual we will continue to gain value for money.

What we must do....industry, regulators, and Sim folks is to work together to find ways to gain the maximum benefit from the Sim Training.

I see the majority of the problem in this Sim Training thing is there are far too many sacred cows....and folks protecting their own rice bowls and that corrupts the system.

One company I worked for that used Sim training did so only after the Oil Company Client dictated they would.

They flew us from Africa via Europe to Texas....and without a bit of rest....had us in the Sim in the wee hours of the Texas Morning for our training.

Later they insisted they provide their own Training Captains and the Sim Operator would be just that....a Sim Operator....despite being a factory based training facility.

Folks....that is not the attitude that makes for effective training.

Take a moment and analyze how your own Operator....and Authority....and Sim Operator are conducting your training......and decide if there might be improvements and then make it known in a professional manner to those that can facilitate those improvements.

As an Operator....there is no sense wasting money on bad training at any level....it just doesn't pay to do that.

Sometimes you do not have all the answers and others might really have some useful insight that you could benefit from.
SASless is offline  
Old 31st Dec 2019, 11:23
  #23 (permalink)  
Join Date: Apr 2000
Location: EGDC
Posts: 9,444
PapaechoIT - it is a shame you had such a negative experience in the sim, they really come into their own for larger, more complex aircraft where the handling qualities are less important than learning the procedures and processes in the RFM for handling emergencies.

Although I have gained a lot from sim training over the years, the sim owners/operators will tell you it is like the real aircraft when it clearly isn't.

You have two main problems - 1 is the modelling for the flight dynamics which is often a generic helicopter tweaked to approximate the real type (never does) and 2 is the projection system and latency within that - your brain is accustomed to the real aircraft in a real world and the response times of control inputs therein - if you lag that response you inevitably cause pilot induced oscillations (PIOs) until your brain gets used to the lag.

I used to find the 365 sim a nightmare for the first hour until adaptation took place and you played it like the computer game it is rather than trying to fly it like the real aircraft which it isn't.

The value in procedure and emergency training was high though so it will always be a trade off.

In discussions in the past where cost-saving has driven more training from the real aircraft to the sim, I have always opposed the idea that pure handling skills should be taught in the sim.
crab@SAAvn.co.uk is offline  
Old 31st Dec 2019, 12:59
  #24 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2013
Location: Massachusetts, USA
Age: 65
Posts: 7
Originally Posted by [email protected] View Post
In discussions in the past where cost-saving has driven more training from the real aircraft to the sim, I have always opposed the idea that pure handling skills should be taught in the sim.
I agree with you, Crab. The value of a sim is NOT in the handling skills, it's in the procedures and systems training. And, for multi-crewed aircraft, the interaction between pilots in an emergency. Until you've had the fire light come on during a night takeoff from the ship, you don't know how you'll really react and, more importantly, you don't know how the other pilot will react to your actions and words. The real learning occurs during the debrief when you get a chance to watch how you reacted, listen to what you said, and participate in a professional discussion of how the emergency could have been handled better.
I attended annual sim training for more than 25 years. During that time, the flight dynamics and visual systems improved dramatically, but never reached the level of flying in the real aircraft. But the quality of the training improved continuously as we incorporated lessons from fleet experience into our annual course. You can't beat the value of that! Lives were saved through exposure to scenarios that had killed our colleagues...
Seaguard is offline  
Old 31st Dec 2019, 13:49
  #25 (permalink)  
Join Date: May 2002
Location: Downeast
Age: 74
Posts: 17,468
I preferred the "Self Debrief" method when crew performance was just plain lacking.

I would take the video down to the training room....have the two "Students" grab their coffee....and when they got sat down and comfortable.....on came the video and I went out to get my own coffee,

Invariably.....left to watch their performance as spectators rather than participants....the actual debrief and subsequent training went a lot better as they were prepared to listen to suggestions for improvements.
SASless is offline  
Old 31st Dec 2019, 18:49
  #26 (permalink)  
Join Date: Mar 2009
Location: South Ridge
Posts: 61
An effective simulation flight model is more about matching pilot workload than it is about matching QTG plots. Unfortunately, the regulatory bodies like the FAA and EASA insist on flight models that match real aircraft data at the expense of matching workload.

In reality, a sim will probably never be an identical match to the actual aircraft, even if it had a flight model that matched the actual aircraft in every possible way. Too many cues are missing from the simulation environment, especially for small aircraft that are flown mostly in a VFR manner... and this is often why a lot of experienced pilots walk away from a sim disgusted.

But sims certainly can be used for learning and improving manual flying skills. The US Navy is doing it now... but they were smart and decided to go with unqualified devices that had flight models installed that matched the workload of the real aircraft rather than matching dots on a QTG plot.
SimFlightTest is offline  

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