An IFR lesson that would normally take up to three hours at the airport (from the time you show up to the time you leave, including preflight, filing flight plans, etc.) can be completed in the sim in half the time and for less than half the cost of actually flying. However, the most common complaint we get is that “it doesn’t fly like a real airplane.” Our response to that is, it isn’t supposed to. The Elite PI-135 Flight Simulator is not designed to teach a student how to fly an airplane, so it doesn’t behave exactly like one. That’s the realm of high-fidelity, full-motion, and very expensive simulators like the Redbird FMX. But do you really need fancy graphics and flight control feedback to practice your instrument scan, or fly an approach? We think not.
The Elite flight Simulator features a Garmin GNS430W simulator that is perfect for students who are trying to learn all of the features of this highly capable IFR-certified GPS but don’t want to spend $160 an hour or more doing so in a real airplane. One drawback of the Elite PI-135 flight simulator is that it cannot be used to complete an Instrument Proficiency Check (IPC). This must be done in an airplane, as stipulated in FAR 61.57(d). However, if it’s been a very long time since you’ve flown IFR and you need an IPC, the sim is still an excellent, efficient and economical way to brush up on your IFR skills and scan before you go out and fly an IPC with an instructor.
The FAA approved an update to Part 61 that allows the use of an Aviation Training Device (ATD) to maintain instrument currency without the supervision of a flight instructor. Under this rule, instrument-rated pilots can maintain instrument currency within the standard 6-month window using an ATD in the same manner as flying an airplane.
This significantly reduces the cost and burden on an instrument-rated pilot of staying current. For those of you considering an instrument rating, go for it! This rule will make it much cheaper to keep up your skills to fly in the clouds. Please note that if the simulator is being used to log time towards a rating (i.e. training towards a private or instrument rating), an instructor MUST still be present. Our PI-135 BATD (Basic Aviation Training Device) simulator is available for renters to complete a checkout. Once a simulator checkout has been complete, renters will be able to use the PI-135 without instructor supervision, in order to practice and log instrument approaches toward currency.