I know that pilots learn using simulators, but when they make the transition to piloting a real flight, how different /difficult is it?
Can you describe what it's like going from learning how to fly a plane using a simulator to what it's like actually flying one? Is it a really difficult transition or do the simulators feel so much like real life that it's not that different?
I'm also interested to know how long the first few actual flights are. Are they pretty short? Are there passengers on the plane? #aviation #airline-industry #pilot
I got an answer for your question, by a airplane pilot. Take a look:
Let's make a distinction between civil aviation and military aviation. Training in both of these arenas utilizes simulators extensively. For instance, the A-10 Warthog has no 2 seat trainer. All initial training is done in a simulator. Simulators provide us pilots a way to practise both instrument flight and emergencies without endangering aircraft or the ground. When real time visual simulators were introduced for combat training F-4, F-15, F16 & F14, the fighter pilots were reporting some physiological side effects during their sleep. Some were have a type of night terrors, rolling out of bed and waking up on the floor. It was determined and agreed by the fighter pilot community & Flight Surgeons, that because during the simulator training, the pilot's bodies & senses were not being subjected to the full g-forces & other sensory forces normally experienced in the real world. Ok yes, a simulator will make your inner ear spin just as much as the real thing, but you'll never fell the force of 6 to 9 g's. When you're in the simulator cockpit of a B767-400 that's making a single engine approach into Anchorage, Ak, IMC, blowing snow at near cross wind limits, that is about as real as it GETS!
Miles D’s Answer
The simulators that we learn to fly a new type of airplane or helicopter are so realistic that you usually go straight from the training in a simulator to your first flight in the real aircraft without much trouble. The simulators are certified to "Level D" which means that they must look, sound and feel like the actual aircraft. It doesn't look or feel like a game. The training is so realistic that you have to have a valid medical certificate to fly them because the training is so realistic. We first learn to fly a new aircraft in the simulator at a training facility like www.flightsafety.com and then we go back again every six months to train for a week. We practice emergency procedures such as fires, engine failures and other complex procedures that are much safer to fly and work through than in a real aircraft. The training can be very expensive but the employer will usually pay. I really enjoy going back to school every six months, even though it takes a lot of preparation.
Daniela and Miles covered the flight simulators used at the professional level quite well so there's not much to add there. What I will comment on though is the simulators used when you first start taking flying lessons and the transition to flying a real airplane.
The types of flight simulators used when you first start learning to fly vary greatly. Some are as simple as a set of airplane controls hooked up to a desktop computer, some can be a near replica of what the cockpit looks/feels like. Most, if not all, of the flight simulators used when you first start flying do not move. They are primarily used at this point to help you get familiar with where the controls and buttons are and to practice using your checklist.
Each flight school has their own training program, so there may be subtle differences in how they go about teaching you to fly. In general though, you will not spend much time in the simulator before you start flying the actual airplane; maybe just 1-2 lessons. Since you don't spend much time in the simulator prior to your first actual flight, it's natural to feel a little overwhelmed. However, your flight instructor is there to help you through every step of your flight training, including your first flight. The controls are likely to feel different than the simulator, but you'll be amazed at how quickly you learn to fly the airplane (and how much more fun it is to fly a real airplane than the simulator).
Most training flights last about 1.5-2 hours. Usually, it will just be you and your instructor in the airplane. Although, sometimes a friend or family member may be able to ride along.
Learning to fly involves a lot of work, but there is so much joy that comes with it as well. It is a very rewarding skill to have, whether you use it to fly privately or professionally.