Recurrent Flight Training

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SR22 flight simulator

Recurrent Flight Training
This month, as I have done for almost 2 decades, I found myself in recurrent flight training. As a corporate pilot, recurrent training is not optional – everyone does it, some begrudgingly, some with enthusiasm, some with nervousness.

As I mentioned in this article, not coincidentally six months ago, there are not many professions that you literally put your career on the line on a frequent basis (In my case twice a year. Add in line checks and now you are up to three times a year.) Luckily, the Falcon 2000 I’m qualified on, is pretty tame.

All of this is designed to make public air transportation as safe as possible and I believe it works. There is nothing like having to demonstrate competency in front of your peers and someone who can take your livelihood away with the stroke of a pen.

It’s not all about the checking, there is a great deal of learning the occurs as well. You get to try things you could never do in the real airplane and you get to practice little-used procedures so they aren’t too rusty in case you need to press them into service.

There has been significant movement to bring flight simulation to a wider audience of pilots. Redbird Flights Simulations has been providing the tools to do just that. By my rough count there are at least 176 Red Bird Simulators at flight schools across the US. That’s a lot of simulators!

Redbird isn’t the only game in town, Fidelity Flight Simulation also offers light aircraft simulation. Frasca, a name a remember from my youth, is also alive and well and deep into the light aircraft simulator arena.

full motion light plane simulator

So the new up-and-coming-students at many flight schools will have a chance to train in one of these devices, which I think could be advantageous. Certainly it’s not a replacement for real stick time, but like I mentioned, simulators have their own strengths by allowing you to do things you could never attempt in the real airplane. And they are incrementally cheaper so if you are doing a repetitive task, like instrument approaches or holding patterns, there’s some financial benefit.

I can easily see a future where flight simulation and recurrent training will touch a larger group of aviators. Hopefully, it won’t be burdensome or intrusive (read: government or insurance industry mandated), but more of an enhancement to general aviation safety for areas that need it the most (e.g., Technically Advanced Aircraft). You can already get  recurrent training in many high-end singles – this was unheard a decade ago.

by Brent Owens

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