One of the unique aspects of flight simulators is that one can practice emergencies to prepare pilots for ‘real flying’.
The RAF and airlines have used flight simulators for decades to do this and indeed test their pilots on their ability to handle a crisis (or two) to justify their jobs of protecting the public.
There is a FAILURES section of the programme which allows all sorts of systems difficulties to be pre programmed, either to be random or timed to happen.
For example, one can set an engine to fail after exactly 15 minutes, just as the pilot is settling down into a cross country flight – silence! The pilot then has to rapidly work out why the engine has failed – it could be carburetor ice, magnetos turned off – several reasons but more than likely it’s mechanical damage and not able to be restarted!
The pilot must then work out where to land and if the failure is soon after take off, the only place to land is straight ahead, as sadly many a new pilot has stalled in whilst turning back to the runway due to poor initial training…
Light aircraft can be landed in any decent sized field and the skill is in avoiding the hedges and ditches with the use of flaps and brakes but if one aims to touch down under control at around 60 kts the occupants are fairly certain to survive, even if the aircraft doesn’t!
More subtle failures can include a drifting Direction Indicator gyro which slowly wanders off and can take an unaware pilot miles off course – the clue being the compass, which doesn’t drift but also can go wrong for various reasons…
So all of this technology is available on flight simulators and with infinitely variable weather conditions, different airports and of course different aircraft – there is no shortage of new skills to be learnt in a completely safe environment.
Click here to see a low level Engine Failure After Take Off (EFATO) in our flight simulator.