Training time credited by the FAA for flight simulation devices is a moving target caught in a web of regulatory confusion. Even the names and levels have been changed continuously as this process has evolved. Finally, the new rule will be published today April 12th, taking effect on May 12th with a strong move in the right direction. The FAA has restored the 10 hours of credit for BATDs (Basic Aviation Training Devices) and 20 hours for AATDs (Advanced) previously permitted by manufacturer LOAs. Time with a professional educator on even a modestly priced machine can provide a wide variety of challenges unavailable in flight with much greater efficiency, economy and safety. SAFE has advocated continuously for greater “sim” time credit.
Since the 1970s, the FAA has gradually expanded the use of various forms of flight simulation for training. The venerable ATC-610 with realistic “steam gauge instruments” was a mainstay for training all kinds of approaches. Computer based training devices have dramatically expanded the realism and also the utility of these devices with companies like Mindstar even networking devices into a virtual environment (demonstrated at the Pilot Proficiency Center at Oshkosh last year). The realism of the new hardware is exceptional with motion incorporated in models from Redbird, Frasca and many other progressive manufacturers. SAFE has led the charge for approval of increased simulation credit and we are proud our proposal to the FAA is quoted extensively in the current NPRM. Flight simulation provides a huge opportunity for aviation educators and a superior, less expensive, training environment for clients at all courses and levels. For both initial and recurrent flight training, increased FAA credit for simulation is a huge win.
Incidentally, the requirement for a “view limiting device” was thankfully dropped in the most recent rule (can’t see the ground anyway!) The FAA NPRM again mentioned helpful input from SAFE. Also, per 61.51 (g)4 you do need an “authorized instructor” (we presume that would be a CFII) to observe and sign your logbook to log legal training time or maintain currency. There was lots of confusing interpretations circulating but the recent legal letter of interpretation makes this abundantly clear.
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