It is in obtaining the instrument rating that the sim really shines. There are numerous advantages to using the sim. These are some of the advantages.

  • The sim can be used for 20 hours towards the instrument rating under Part 61. (FAR 61.65(g)(2), October 2009 amendments)
  • The basis of all successful instrument flight is scan, and the sim is superb for teaching scan.
    • Because there is no feedback from external stimuli, such as aircraft motion, it forces the pilot to really look at the instruments.
    • Learning an effective instrument scan is the basis of all successful instrument training. It requires the pilot to learn a new set of motor skills, and in an airplane it will generally take 7 to 8 hours before the student has learned scan sufficiently well to move on in his or her training. For many students, the sim can somewhat reduce the time required to learn to scan.
  • The ability to pause the sim and discuss what the instruments are really telling you.
    • Being able to hit the "freeze" button allows the student the time and opportunity to reason out what the instruments are saying without having to contend with flying the plane at the same time.
  • The ability to fail an instrument in a realistic manner.
    • In a plane the instructor has no recourse other than to cover an instrument up, which is anything but subtle. The pilot is instantly alerted to the fact that the covered instrument can no longer be used.
    • But in the sim, how long will it take you to figure out that your attitude indicator went south ten minutes ago and has slowly been feeding you bad information?
    • Altitude control in a sim is always a challenge. Have you really gotten that good or is your pitot-static system frozen?
  • The ability to instantly reposition the pilot to repeat the exercise.
    • Because so much time is spent repositioning a plane for another approach, it is easily possible to get as much done in a sim in one-half or one-third the time required in a plane.
  • It is a much better and much less expensive teaching environment.
    • The sim is much less expensive than the average instrument trainer and it doesn't use fuel! See a breakdown of the cost comparison for the instrument rating.

    Many instructors have sent students to the sim for the initial training by an experienced sim instructor. In this situation, the instructor may decide to wait until the sim work is finished or fly with the student in parallel with the sim instruction.

    So when you decide now is the time to obtain that instrument rating, discuss use of the sim with your instructor. Your training will be good, and your pocket book will definitely notice the difference.

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