How to Use Flight Simulators to Save Money During Training

Mike Catalfamo
Mike Catalfamo


Train with Me

If you’re like many of our clients, you’re a busy professional who wants to get their pilot certificate in the most efficient way possible. You want to stay ahead of your training, increase your confidence, and become the most proficient pilot you can, all while minimizing training costs.

Intelligent use of desktop flight simulation with the support of an experienced remote flight instructor is one way to help you achieve this. What you might not realize is just how valuable and productive each remote coaching session can be.

Let’s compare a typical flight lesson in real-life to a typical remote coaching session — looking at the cost in terms of hours and dollars.

A typical pre-solo maneuvers flight lesson might involve 1.5 hours of Hobbs time (calculated based on the time when the engine is running).

Unfortunately, there is a lot of hidden overhead going into each lesson, as you can see below. 1.5 hours in the aircraft might actually eat up over 3 hours of your day — possibly more if you live far from the airport:

Breakdown of a 1.5-hour real-world flight lesson

By this time, it has already been almost an hour since the briefing with the instructor, so hopefully everything is still fresh in your mind.

Let’s compare this to a typical 1.5-hour remote coaching session — where you fire up your home flight sim, connect with your instructor via Zoom, and within minutes, you can be in the virtual cockpit practicing maneuvers:

As you can see, the effective cost of each minute of maneuver practice in a real aircraft is over 7 times higher than doing so with a remote instructor in your simulator.

Let’s say that a maneuver doesn’t go so well. No problem! We can immediately do an instant replay of the scenario as many times as necessary so you understand exactly what can be improved.

At the end of the day, instruction in a home simulator can never substitute for in-aircraft flight experience with a good instructor. However, the cost to practice in the aircraft is very high. So, as much as possible, you should try to prepare at home to utilize that valuable in-aircraft time as effectively and efficiently as possible.

Perhaps you can spend extra hours really getting comfortable with stall characteristics. Or doing landings at challenging airports.

When you start practicing landings, your entire focus can be on improving your touchdowns. ATC, traffic patterns, stabilized approaches, and wind correction will already be second nature.

You can spend more time going to different airports and experiencing different weather conditions. Perhaps you can spend a couple of hours in real IMC.

The skills, knowledge, and confidence gained from simulator practice will help you reduce your workload and feeling of overwhelm when flying.

That’s our goal — for you to spend more of your real-world flight hours focused on the things that can only be done properly in a real airplane.

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