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a pilot in a flight simulator

Flight simulators are machines that allow student pilots to learn different flying skills in a controlled environment, all by replicating the functions and reactions of a specific make and model of aircraft. For a beginner and a pilot-in-training, using a flight simulator isn’t as overwhelming as flying in an aircraft. That makes it easy for them to focus on honing their technical skills.

From the perspective of a flight instructor, flight simulators are valuable training tools. An instructor can easily pause a simulation and take the time to discuss a particular situation with a pilot student if necessary. The best pilot training schools, like Alpha Aviation Group (AAG) campus in the Philippines, invest in topnotch flight simulators for their contributions to pilot training.

But even if flight simulator technology can replicate various flight environments in realistic ways, there are some skills and experiences that can’t be taught there and can only be learned in actual flight. If you’re a student pilot yourself, you might find it challenging to learn some sensation-centric lessons if you depend solely on flight simulators due to their limitations.

Let’s take a look at some of the limitations you may experience as a student pilot when training in a flight simulator. This will help you prepare for the lessons you’ll learn both on a flight simulator and while you’re up in the air.

Landing Flare

The landing flare is the transition between the aircraft’s final descent and the touchdown on the landing surface. It’s one of the toughest skills to learn, and it’s essential to safely landing an aircraft. It requires careful timing and a sharp awareness of the many different factors that affect a plane’s landing.

Using a simulator will allow you to become familiar with different landing techniques and learn about traffic patterns, downward bases, airspeed management, and flap position. But a flight simulator won’t produce the same feedback or replicate the exact feel of an airplane when it’s landing, which makes it impossible to master the landing flare on a simulator alone. Once you’ve understood the landing procedure in the simulator, it’s best to expose yourself to landing flares while on an actual airplane.


Taxiing is the controlled movement of an airplane on the ground under its own power. Typically, an aircraft will taxi or move a few miles on the runway before it takes off or after landing. Taxiing can also be done when the aircraft moves through the network of interconnected lanes in an airport.

In a flight simulator, taxiing can be hard to learn. While in a flight simulator, taxiing will feel more like skating on ice because a simulator doesn’t have nose wheel steering. When you only practice taxiing using a simulation plane, there’s the chance that you’ll skid and slide once you’re on the runway. Again, taxiing is best learned when you’re actually maneuvering a real aircraft.

Visual Approach

As a pilot, you may need to perform a visual approach or use the visual reference of the terrain when landing. This can occur on the occasion that all or part of an instrument approach procedure isn’t complete. While flight simulators are excellent tools for learning instrument approaches, they have their limitations when building a pilot’s acumen for a visual approach.

You’ll need to practice gauging an aircraft’s performance and momentum using references you see on the side, quarter, and front windows of the cockpit. Unfortunately, this is harder to do on a flight simulator. The machine will have limited visual references for recreating the realistic conditions needed for a visual approach.

Detecting Stall Buffet

Most simulators can struggle to demonstrate the buffet you feel in the controls when you approach a stall. The buffet, or the vibration from the aerodynamic excitation, may occur when the airflow over the wing becomes separated or turbulent.

When piloting an aircraft, you can easily tell when a stall is arising by how the airframe behaves. You don’t need an instrument to tell you that you’re about to stall; you can just feel it in the controls. This kind of sensation is hard to replicate in a simulator.

Managing Stress and Fear

Lastly, student pilots training in a flight simulator tend to feel a level of safety, and this can even evolve into complacency. When in a simulator, you’re aware that even if you make a mistake, you can simply exit the machine alive and unscathed. To some degree, simulators allow pilots to experience some emergencies so that they’re better prepared to face them in real life. However, they might not be as close as what will actually be experienced while flying an aircraft.

By exposing yourself to real-life scenarios on a real aircraft, you’ll also experience the stress and fear that come with actual flight. You’ll also be able to discuss these feelings and the actions you took in response with your instructors. Being on a real aircraft will help you better understand your stress reaction and find more ways to improve.

AAG: Training Pilots Through Both Realistic and Innovative Approaches

Again, flight simulators offer a safe and controlled environment to practice one’s flying skills. However, some techniques are best learned while actually flying an aircraft and with the guidance of a competent instructor. That’s why it’s important to find a pilot training school that offers the right balance of flight simulator training and flight training hours in an actual aircraft.

Fortunately, you’ll be able to find a comprehensive training program at AAG. AAG’s Pilot Training Solutions include plenty of programs and courses to help aviators succeed. We have the Airline Pilot Program (APP)™ designed to support aspiring pilots qualify as A320 First Officers. We also have courses for pilots who want to enhance their experience and take on bigger roles in the aviation industry, such as type rating and multi-engine rating courses.

No matter where you may be in your aviation career, AAG can help you achieve your objectives and build the technical and theoretical skills you’ll need to become a competent aviator. Get in touch with AAG today!