How to make the most of your time in a simulator.
In this month’s Spotlight on Safety, we take a look at the importance of maximizing your time training in a flight simulator.
Your time as a pilot is valuable, so before you begin a sim training session, it’s worth putting some thought and effort into preparing for the session to optimize its effectiveness in making you a better, safer pilot.
Below are some tips for making the most of your time in a simulator. (For more details, click on the poster at bottom left and the video at bottom right.)
- Review your training objectives. Doing so will help you focus your study on the correct procedures and maneuvers. For example, is the goal to develop your instrument flying skills or to test your abilities in responding to in-flight emergencies?
- Remain focused. When you’re in the simulator, it’s important to focus on the task at hand. This means paying attention to all the instruments, and making sure you’re following the correct procedures. Focus starts with getting sufficient sleep and proper nutrition to feel energized and alert during training.
Note: If you’re someone who experiences motion sickness, maintaining focus can be particularly difficult. If this applies to you, be especially conscious of staying hydrated and eating a light meal before your training. Familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of motion sickness. Also, inform the instructor so they can factor this into their plan. Depending on the type of training required, there may be techniques the instructor can use, such as adjusting the tasks, to minimize abrupt attitude changes.
- Don’t get stressed if you make a mistake. It’s common to make mistakes when learning something new or trying a familiar maneuver in a more difficult environment, such as an autorotation in high density–altitude conditions. While these moments can feel rough, do your best to shake them off, make the adjustments needed, and press on.
- Include IIMC or unusual attitude recovery in your training. There’s been a significant amount of industry effort to increase awareness, avoidance, and recovery procedures for IIMC. The simulator is an excellent place to practice using these tools—the autopilot and flight management system, for example—to respond to scenarios in which the weather deteriorates quickly.
- Sharpen your emergency procedures. If you stumble through emergency scenarios in the sim, you might be wasting valuable training time that could be better spent digging deeper into better maneuvers. If there are specific emergency procedures you don’t quite understand, ask your instructor to demonstrate them.
- Practice in less familiar conditions and with different loads. This will help you become more proficient in flying in a variety of performance-altering conditions, such as operating at night, in high altitudes, over mountains, and when carrying external loads. Pick scenarios that match ones you could encounter in your real-world operational environment.
Finally, have fun! Effective sim training should both challenge you and build your confidence. So relax, embrace the opportunity to improve, and enjoy the experience.