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What Do Real Airline Pilots Think Of Flight Sims?  
User currently offlineNeilking From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 101 posts, RR: 0
Posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 23 hours ago) and read 8029 times:

I hope it's not an abuse of the Tech/Ops Board to ask this - and also please forgive me as I'm a newbie so sorry if this has been endlessly debated before.

So what do real pilots think of the likes of Microsoft Flight Sim 2004?

Hard as I try, I cannot get a simulated Boeing or Airbus down with any sort of elegance (I usually flare too soon an/or put the nosewheel down first) and no way can I line it up with the gate.

Is it actually easier doing it "in three dimensions" (four if you count the "feel" factor?) than the two dimensional world of a computer screen?

Or does flying a real airliner just take a flipping sight more training, practice and experience than I can ever imagine from playing a computer game?

Only time I ever been on the flightdeck of a real airliner (BA 757 LHR-EDI in 1986), the captain remarked "Any fool can fly these things but moving them about on the ground is quite difficult in comparison." Was he just being self deprecating??

Any comments welcome.

Thanks, Neil

PS - in my Sim-World, I normally have a laugh with my wife "Oh well, a few broken limbs and whiplash injuries but nobody dead is the best you could say for that performance - the aircraft will probably be a write off, though!"

33 replies: All unread, showing first 25:
 
User currently offlineJetlagged From United Kingdom, joined Jan 2005, 2543 posts, RR: 24
Reply 1, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 22 hours ago) and read 8003 times:

Basic flying in the real thing is much easier than in FS2004, or even compared to a Level D full flight simulator. However keeping everything safe in all weathers, in congested airspace and under abnormal and emergency conditions is where pilots earn their pay. That's why it takes so long to train a pilot and why training continues throughout a pilot's career.

High quality payware add-ons to FS2004 are used by some pilots to practice procedures and prepare for simulator training periods. Some airlines are beginning to use them as part of their training programmes. FS2004 wouldn't be much use to practice handling skills though. There's an interesting article about this in the current issue of PC Pilot magazine.



The glass isn't half empty, or half full, it's twice as big as it needs to be.
User currently offline320tech From Turks and Caicos Islands, joined May 2004, 491 posts, RR: 5
Reply 2, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 7984 times:

I agree. I only get to fly Cessna 172's, not airliners, but the Flight Sim version is more difficult to manage. The main problem that I see is the narrow field of view. You just can't look around like you can in real life. Judging height close to the ground is nearly impossible (at least in the older version of Flight Sim that I have).

I look at Flight Sim as being more of a procedure trainer than a flight simulator. It's pretty good for learning VOR, ILS, and ADF approaches.



The primary function of the design engineer is to make things difficult for the manufacturer and impossible for the AME.
User currently offlineSlamClick From United States of America, joined Nov 2003, 10062 posts, RR: 68
Reply 3, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 21 hours ago) and read 7977 times:

They are pretty amazing, with an incredible amount of data in them, but on the whole, I'd rather play Tetris.

Just a personal choice. Has only to do with me and nothing to do with FS.



Happiness is not seeing another trite Ste. Maarten photo all week long.
User currently offlineFLY2HMO From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 4, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 20 hours ago) and read 7959 times:

I find FS2004 well worth the visuals, but not to accurate as to aerodynamics.

X-plane, OTOH, has very accurate dynamics (at least for the C172), but crappy graphics. In x-plane you actually can "feel" the ground effect, thermals, soft-fields and even perform VMC demos. FS9 is years behind in this aspect, and I can't accurately recreate the manuevers mentioned before.

It's worth downloading x-plane to see the difference.   

EDIT: Ooops, I just noticed you meant ATPs, I'm only a PPL so far.

[Edited 2005-11-02 05:30:42]

User currently offlineDCrawley From United States of America, joined Jun 2005, 371 posts, RR: 1
Reply 5, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 19 hours ago) and read 7935 times:

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
I hope it's not an abuse of the Tech/Ops Board to ask this - and also please forgive me as I'm a newbie so sorry if this has been endlessly debated before.

Welcome to the forum. The flight sim subject gets kind of old sometimes.. but I think you have approached it differently than some. Just don't ask this question:

Can A FS Pilot Make A Regular Flight?

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
So what do real pilots think of the likes of Microsoft Flight Sim 2004?

I think MSFS is a decent program, but X-Plane is much better (as pointed out about). It's not bad to work on your instrument proficiency but I think it's much different when doing a checklist in the actual cockpit and physically touching (whether "flipping" or pull and turning) the switches. There are also other variables you don't have in MSFS, like CRM, ADM (with real life consequences), stress, fatigue, etc. However, I don't think you can get the "feel" of how the actual aircraft performs and handles.

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
Is it actually easier doing it "in three dimensions" (four if you count the "feel" factor?) than the two dimensional world of a computer screen?

I don't know your definition of easy.. it sure as hell takes a lot of training though! Everyday can present a new challenge..

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
the captain remarked "Any fool can fly these things but moving them about on the ground is quite difficult in comparison."

I remember the first time I (attempted to) use the tiller.. thank God it was in the level D sim and not real life, took some practice for me!

Best of luck on this forum, have a good one.

-d



"Weather at our destination is 50 degrees with some broken clouds, but they'll try to have them fixed before we arrive."
User currently offlineNeilking From United Kingdom, joined Aug 2005, 101 posts, RR: 0
Reply 6, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 5 hours ago) and read 7792 times:

Thank you all for your courteous replies - I'd been half expecting howls of protest at clogging up the T/O board with such assinine questions.

I totally take Jetlagged's point that there is far more to being a pilot than just knowing how to line it up and land it. I know this because I do a lot of coastal sailing in a 10 metre yacht and it's one thing to know how to set and trim the sails, point it in the right direction, go about, gybe, reef and berth but it's a totally different skill set to plan and manage the voyage from A to B safely taking into account vagaries of weather and tide etc. etc. I expect flying must be quite similar to sailing in that respect.

However, my question about sims was directed merely towards the handling the craft aspect rather than managing the flight and I think I've got my answer that it probably is easier to handle an a/c in the real world of three dimensions than a small PC screen.

I particularly agreed with 320tech's point:-

Quoting 320tech (Reply 2):
The main problem that I see is the narrow field of view. You just can't look around like you can in real life.

Thanks again and hoping you may all find time to answer further questions for me.

Regards,
Neil King
Edinburgh, UK

Now, Can a FS Pilot Make a Regular Flight? ..... (JOKE!!)


User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3144 posts, RR: 11
Reply 7, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7758 times:

I kind of view it like a driving game, like Gran Tourismo. Fun, realistic, but not real. They have their merits. Some have mentioned the merits of learning Navigation and other items. Personally, I like doing things you can't do in real life like flying a 172 inverted or drving a Subaru WRX 150 MPH at Laguna Seca  Smile


DMI
User currently offlineMerlinIIIB From Norway, joined Aug 2005, 121 posts, RR: 0
Reply 8, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 4 hours ago) and read 7748 times:

Quoting Pilotpip (Reply 7):
kind of view it like a driving game, like Gran Tourismo. Fun, realistic, but not real.

I agree. However, pilots should note this: Some people have no desire to fly an aircraft at all, but they have a theoretical interest in navigation and fluid dynamics. For those people, FlightSims are even better than flying the real thing because you can play with the variables without risk.

I have read a lot of discussions related to this topic, and to me it seems that some pilots actually believe everyone in this forum envy their profession.


User currently offlinePhilSquares From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 9, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 3 hours ago) and read 7714 times:

If we're talking about full flight sims, the best thing I can say is it's like "kissing your sister".

As for MS, it's a computer game, no more, no less.


User currently offlineJulesmusician From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 10, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7703 times:

What MS Flight Sim doesn't teach is how to deal with people - and that will get you a long way  Smile

J


User currently offlineB744F From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 11, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7700 times:

Quoting PhilSquares (Reply 9):
As for MS, it's a computer game, no more, no less.

Sure it is


User currently offlineDeltaGuy From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 12, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7691 times:

I can't say that their flying qualities are excellent, but the one thing FS can help you with is procedures, specifically navigation and some systems. I learned alot about VOR's, NDB's, ILS approaches, and alot of aircraft systems well before I started taking serious lessons.

If you're on FS to perfect your landings, I'd suggest you take a kite outside and try that...it'll probably be more realistic  Wink

DeltaGuy


User currently offlinePilotpip From United States of America, joined Sep 2003, 3144 posts, RR: 11
Reply 13, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7686 times:

"(Insert your job here) is the greatest career anybody can have."

If you can't say that, get out of what you're doing. I think that's more of the issue. You should love what you do regardless of pay. Money doesn't bring happiness.

Of course, if this were an F1 fourm and say, was on here he'd think we all envy his career. Of course, I'm sure there are people that would much rather be doing the composite work on the cooling inlets on that fourm. It's all in what you're drawn to.  Smile

And yes, I love what I do.



DMI
User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7443 posts, RR: 62
Reply 14, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 2 hours ago) and read 7678 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

what about in comparing a real flight simulator, on full hydraulics, compared to the real thing? such as at Boeing Alteon


Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineBrownBat From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 15, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 days 1 hour ago) and read 7651 times:

Hey, Neilking I'm a new guy too. I'd say that PC flight simulators are good just to get the overall knowledge of the flying environment but from what I have seen it's no way near the real thing. The multi-million dollar simulators however are another story.

User currently offlineJeff G From United States of America, joined Jan 2002, 436 posts, RR: 1
Reply 16, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 2 days 10 hours ago) and read 7398 times:

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
So what do real pilots think of the likes of Microsoft Flight Sim 2004?

I think it's an amazing product that's come a long way, and will probably improve further in ways we can't imagine yet. That said, it's just software. It's a game. And even as realistic as the visuals and the flight models get, and will get, it's ultimately just a simulation in your living room. There really is no comparison.

Besides, if they get so sophisticated that you need to operate them like the real airplane to get anywhere, that is too much like work, and I don't do work at home. It's one of the best parts of the job, leaving the plane at the gate, so I'm not too keen on bringing it home with me.


User currently onlineXFSUgimpLB41X From United States of America, joined Aug 2000, 4190 posts, RR: 37
Reply 17, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 18 hours ago) and read 7266 times:

Quoting Mirrodie (Reply 14):
what about in comparing a real flight simulator, on full hydraulics, compared to the real thing? such as at Boeing

The CRJ simulator is pretty realistic... there are a few things that are different. First- real life has random things.. wind gusts... thermals...

It was rather close to the real thing except from about 100 feet and below. Landing the simulator wasn't very much like the real thing. The real plane requires a considerable amount more finesse and feel in the flare. The controls are also lighter in the sim... and more sensitive on top of that...bad combination, haha.



Chicks dig winglets.
User currently offlineMir From United States of America, joined Jan 2004, 21512 posts, RR: 55
Reply 18, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 11 hours ago) and read 7225 times:

From the standpoint of actually flying a plane, FS is pretty much useless (less so if you have quality add-on aircraft, but still). However, I will say that I learned how to track VORs, ILSs, NDBs, etc. long before I ever started taking instrument ground school, thanks to a computer-based flight simulator.

-Mir



7 billion, one nation, imagination...it's a beautiful day
User currently offlineLongHauler From Canada, joined Mar 2004, 4913 posts, RR: 43
Reply 19, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 day 10 hours ago) and read 7207 times:

I have about 20,000 hours total time, with about 16,000 in transport jet aircraft, my buddies had a howl when they realized I couldn't fly FS worth a damn. Although ... I did get the thing on the ground ... somewhat. As everyone says, its just a game, albeit a complicated one.

So ... to get even.

The airline for which I fly allows us to use the Full Flight Simulators in the training centre when they are not being used on a standby basis. So, at midnight a couple of months ago, I dragged a few of my friends into a Full Flight A320 simulator, to see how they did.

Basically, they could run the autoflight FCR/FMS reasonably well, and could get the aircraft within 50 feet of the ground. However they all missed the slight nuance in the FMS alerting the aircraft that it was expected to land itself. So .... it just flew with the thrust up at 30 feet ... fun to watch.

The revenge came when I shut the autopilots off, the autothrust off and the flight directors off. Not one of them could fly the aircraft.

It seems it was the motion that threw them off. Sitting at your desk you forget that with every input, there is a resulting motion. And when you push pull too hard the aircraft leaps! This startled them .... he he he. Needless to say, all three were soaked with sweat when we walked out of the training centre at 4am!

But, they all loved the Full Flight Simulator. The amazing visuals, like the marshaller guiding us to the gate, the passengers looking out of the window of the departure lounge, the agent in the bridge waving as we pushed back, and the realistic presentations of a TCAS/near collision or ground contact with a windshear! (I am sure they all had bad dreams that night!)



Never gonna grow up, never gonna slow down .... Barefoot Blue Jean Night
User currently offlineB744F From Germany, joined Jan 2006, 0 posts, RR: 0
Reply 20, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 5 hours ago) and read 6985 times:

Quoting LongHauler (Reply 20):
It seems it was the motion that threw them off. Sitting at your desk you forget that with every input, there is a resulting motion. And when you push pull too hard the aircraft leaps! This startled them .... he he he. Needless to say, all three were soaked with sweat when we walked out of the training centre at 4am!

But it's the same type of change that you got when sitting down to play flight sim. You are use to certain things about the experience while they are use to different things. Once you both get more comfortable in your positions, it would be a lot easier for them to fly the simulator and you to fly the game, right?


User currently offlineJAM747 From United States of America, joined Feb 2005, 550 posts, RR: 1
Reply 21, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 3 hours ago) and read 6947 times:

I have a friend who is doing a commercial pilot's course in South Africa and he said the instructors strongly recommend that they do NOT use a PC flight sim for leisure. I think the instructors believe that the students might develop some bad habits from flight sim and use the same reactions in certain real life situations which could be dangerous. Could this be true? I My friend learn't alot while doing flight sim which helped him in this course.

User currently offlineMirrodie From United States of America, joined Apr 2000, 7443 posts, RR: 62
Reply 22, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 6906 times:
Support Airliners.net - become a First Class Member!

Quoting LongHauler (Reply 20):
The revenge came when I shut the autopilots off, the autothrust off and the flight directors off. Not one of them could fly the aircraft.

I have to agree with that. While I learned on a full motion sim and these items were on, I can only imagine how much more difficult it becomes once those variables are knocked out!



Forum moderator 2001-2010; He's a pedantic, pontificating, pretentious bastard, a belligerent old fart, a worthless st
User currently offlineMandala499 From Indonesia, joined Aug 2001, 6761 posts, RR: 76
Reply 23, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks 1 hour ago) and read 6899 times:

Jam747,
It is true. I've heard the same thing... but it comes down to how the individual enter his/her habits... As long as the person treats the two as SEPARATE things... he/she should be OK. FS allows the pilot to loose discipline that could be deadly on a real plane.

Though I'm largely an FS pilot (I fly sideways as a crew most of the time), a couple of weeks back we went to a 732 simulator with an FS fanatic with someone who possesses 2 of the 5 bad hazardous quality in a pilot:

Impulsivity (“Do something quickly!”). This attitude is found in people who frequently feel the need to do something— anything—immediately. They do not stop to think about what they are about to do, they do not select the best alternative, and they do the first thing that comes to mind.

Macho (“I can do it!”). Pilots who are always trying to prove that they are better than anyone else are thinking, “I can do it—I’ll show them.” Pilots with this type of attitude will try to prove themselves by taking risks in order to impress others.


which lead to another 2 of the 5 hazardous quality...

Anti-authority (“Don’t tell me!”). This attitude is found in people who do not like anyone telling them what to do. They may be resentful of having someone tell them what to do or may regard rules, regulations, and procedures as silly or unnecessary. However, it is always your prerogative to question authority if you feel it is in error.

Invulnerability (“It won’t happen to me!”). Many people feel that accidents happen to others, but never to them. They know accidents can happen, and they know that anyone can be affected. They never really feel or believe that they will be personally involved. Pilots who think this way are more likely to take chances and increase risk.


He thinks he's smarter than everyone... But he lacks discipline, he can't plan ahead, he can't react to the situation... I lost the number of times where he "accidentally" disconnected the A/P by pressing the D/C buttons on the yoke or by pressing the trim... one case it was because his knees were jamming the yoke! This is caused by lack of familiarity with actually being in the seat with controls in a flight deck where he and the other pilot can either put the aircraft down, or become a mountain dart.

Other bad things were moving flaps without telling the pilot flying at <500ft AGL, trying to impress people by "anticipating a go-around" without a "go-around" call or asking the PF and just simply move the flap lever... which resulted in the PF making the go-around... though he failed to argue against the PF's argument that the go-around was made because of his "itchy hands wanting to press every switch and move every lever". Again, trying to impress people by making what I call "smart-ass" calls... like on a visual through config changes he calls out "check your DME"... or before stabilising in a climb after a missed approach he'd try and tell the PF what to set the Navs to... (obviously lacking the "aviate, navigate, communicate" concept)... Trying to be smart by pulling the yoke despite the aircraft trying to stay out of a stall (thanks to him moving the gear from Down to OFF, instead of to UP (though he knows the 3 positions and would go and talk for 30 mins about why there are 3 gear lever positions) and moving the flaps to 1 instead of to 15) while the PF was trying to push nose down.

Then while he was the PF, he'd have the "I know better" attitude... he'd boss the PNF around like a servant... yet when he put the aircraft into difficulty due to his actions or when the work load has given him a mental block, instead of saying "you have control", he'd just take his hands off the yoke and throttle and not do anything with a blank face... but then after the aircraft has "recovered" he'd go and put his hand on yoke and throttle without saying "I have control"...

All of this isn't about flying skills... it's about MENTAL ATTITUDE... which is what FS doesn't teach... All pilots and instructors I have talked to have said that FS can create mental hazards for student pilots... the flying skills ain't the bad habits they feared... it's the bad attitude habits! U're better off flying a 737 without a PNF than having a PNF whose bad habits and attitude will put U into a mountain/house at 200KIAS.

cheers...

Mandala499



When losing situational awareness, pray Cumulus Granitus isn't nearby !
User currently offlineBobster2 From , joined Dec 1969, posts, RR:
Reply 24, posted (8 years 8 months 3 weeks ago) and read 6890 times:

Quoting Neilking (Thread starter):
I cannot get a simulated Boeing or Airbus down with any sort of elegance

I don't know if this is your problem, but I think a common error is to try landing with 100% fuel. That's what I used to do because 100% fuel is the default and I didn't think about changing it until after I crashed many times. Getting rid of the fuel changes the way the plane responds.


25 Post contains links LPLAspotter : Actually, this is one of the best posts I've read in a long time. I've been surfing airliner.net for 4 years and active for 10months That's absolutel
26 Mandala499 : Single engine-ing a multi does have its reactions, though it is different from aircraft model to aircraft model... depends how the FSmodel for the air
27 LPLAspotter : How true. I would expect the least amount of reaction on a rear mounted jet (like a DC-9 or MD-80), but the model I was reffering to was a Beechcraft
28 Post contains links LPLAspotter : I posted a similar thread awhile back: MS FS And Flight Training (by LPLAspotter Jul 23 2005 in Tech Ops)a I sure wish someone would input their exper
29 Post contains links Chksix : I use XPlane 8.15. I'm not a pilot so I'm not qualified to judge it's realism. I fly this plane: http://forums.x-plane.org//index.php?showtopic=15836
30 Starlionblue : Agreed. BUT: With high quality payware add-ons and the right hardware it becomes something more. That is, a more serious simulation than a game. HOWE
31 Turnit56N : It can be good for practicing instrument technique if used properly. In my years of instructing I had many students from private through multi that ha
32 Post contains images FLY2HMO : There's an article in AOPAPilot magazine (November 2005) that talks about how pc flight sims have changed flight training. They talk about this 16 yea
33 DC8FriendShip : At the A&P school were I attend they have a 727 cockpit simulator, with all the instruments where they should be, however few of them are real, as it
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