HOME FLIGHT SIMULATION Vs. AIRPLANE ACCIDENTS

Have you ever wondered if flight simulation at home is worthy towards your survival probabilities when flying as Pilot-In-Command?

Photo: Mr. James Long (Hong-Kong)

Have you ever wondered if flight simulation at home is worthy towards your survival probabilities when flying as Pilot-In-Command? We do here at Virtual-Fly and that is the reason why we made a survey asking different questions about the “Use and Value” towards Flight Simulation with questions like such as “Do you have a flight simulator at home?” and also “Have you ever had an airplane accident while being pilot-in-command?”
In this article, we will go through the results of almost 2,000 respondents.

Intro:

Most enthusiasts and professionals are polarized about flight simulation at home.

There are plenty of them who think that flight simulation must be a discipline with as much regulation as possible and only certified simulators transfer added value to flight training users.

There are also plenty of others who think that today’s regulators, mainly FAA and EASA, are way too strict when delivering requirements for certification of flight simulators. This part of the market usually supports that a good hardware connected to a computer is enough to maintain your pilot skills but only if they are used seriously and under real procedures.

The situation today from my point of view is that flight simulation is respected but it has gained even more relevance during the past decade as a result of the increasing operational costs on real flights, versatility requirements for flight crews and technical advancesleading to better, newer and more complex airplanes.

This factors plus many more others are making it easier to lean higher percentages of the flight training responsibility on flight simulation programs as long as they are coursed on approved training devices (ATD) by qualified flight instructors and audited syllabus.

There are many brands offering ATDs on every single level of certification, we can mention a few of them such as Frasca, Alsim, Diamond Simulators, Entrol, RedBird or Precision Flight Controls when coming to first levels of FAA and EASA certification like BATD, AATD, BITD or FNPT (I, II and II MCC). Then you have Flight Safety, CAE, Lockheed Martin, Indra, Thales or TRU among others when talking about higher levels of certification (Levels C & D).

If we go down to the reality of the mass market, and we enter at the simulation room of those enthusiasts and professionals flying at home, then you will find plenty of yokes and controls from brands like Saitek, CH Products, Logitec, Thrumaster, VRInsight or GoFlight.

The Survey:

Virtual-Fly launched a survey through FlyingMag´s newsletter on July the 8th 2015. The newsletter had a link inviting openers to an online survey withmore than 10 questions. There were a total of 1,936 respondents.

First questions where aimed to know about the respondent’s demography and location (email, country, age…).

Then a second block of questions were made to check the respondent´s profile, asking them to identify themselves as “student-pilot”, “pilot”, “flight instructor”, “new in aviation” or “other” as well as asking for their certificates and ratings, flight hours’ experience and number of accidents when they were Pilot-In-Command (PIC).

Then a final block of questions gathered information about the respondent´s use and value towards flight simulation inside and outside home, favorite brands, pricing and relevant features desired on a flight simulator.

You can find the complete list of all questions below. Most of the options for each question and all the answers are not displayed but they are available for all our customers during 2016. We made a nice edition with graphics and all the figures arisen on each question:

Block 1:

1. Please let us know your name and email (optional):
2. Select your country of residence:
3. Please select your age group:

Block 2:

4. Please let us know what you think about flight simulation
5. Select one of the statements below (“student-pilot”, “pilot”, “flight instructor”, “new in aviation” or “other”)
6. What Certificates, Ratings, and Endorsements do you currently have? (Please select all that apply)

Block 3:

7. How many flight hours do you have?
8. Have you ever had an airplane accident as pilot in command?
9. Do you use a flight simulator at home?
10. What do you think is most important when using a flight simulator? Please order from more important (top, 1) to less important (bottom, 9)
11. What is the professional flight simulator brand you most like?
12. When was the last time you used a flight simulator?
13. Now we are describing 4 different flight simulators. Please let us know what would be the PRICE per HOUR you consider adequate if you are using them in order to log your training hours on your pilot book:

The Results:

Then comes the day when the survey is closed and you are ready to look at the answers. That exciting moment when you are getting a better understanding of the surrounding market.

I would like to share with you the results of question 8 (“Have you ever had an airplane accident where you were pilot in command?”) and question 9 (“Do you use a flight simulator at home?”).

Obviously, there are plenty of details, nuances and points of view that we shall review more deeply before taking any conclusion, but these are the results:
You can see now what respondents answered to Question 8, results are displayed in depending of all 5 different profiles:

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On question 9, respondents answered as shown below:

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Now I will show just the answers of those who are really active on flying airplanes, this is “Pilots” and “Flight Instructors”

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And now you can see answers of both questions 8 and 9 combined together, filtering results just for “Pilots” and “Flight Instructors”.

The first table shows the answers of those who had one or more crashes when being PIC and practice Flight Simulation at home:

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42 of the 624 respondents who practice Flight Simulation at home claimed they had 1 or more airplane accidents when being PIC.

This second table shows the answers of those who had one or more crashes when being PIC and DO NOT practice Flight Simulation at home:

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73 of the 679 respondents who DO NOT practice Flight Simulation at home claimed they had 1 or more airplane accidents when being PIC.

Therefore, 6,7% of airmen who practice Flight Simulation at home had 1 or more airplane accidents when being PIC. That percentage raises to 10,8% on those who DO NOT practice Flight Simulation at home.

A second look on the results lets us see how “Flight Instructors” keen on flight simulation are displaying a higher rate of airplane accidents what should lead us to a deeper analysis but when looking into the “Pilots” results there is a 2,5 times difference, from 4% to 10%, on the airplane accident Vs. Home Flight Simulation.