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How much do PC based flight simulators help with IFR flying and instrument scan?

Say using either Prepar3D or XPlane?

I train people on XPlane, with Brunner force feedback yoke and pedals, and it’s very useful for scan, procedures and scenarios.

EGKB Biggin Hill

I used ASA IPTrainer with a Saitek yoke system before going to school for IR. It was very basic, with very low hardware requirements compared to full-fledged simulators. It was an excellent training tool at the time – it’s a pity ASA discontinued it.

LKBU (near Prague), Czech Republic

I’m interested in this thread.
Sometime later this year I will upgrade my very old, slightly slow (but fully usable) PC.
Once done I would like to get kitted up with just enough stuff for exactly this.
Looking forward to seeing thoughts on all of this.


Last Edited by GA_Pete at 21 Jan 00:47
United Kingdom

I use X-Plane since version 5. I am quite happy with it to train procedures, get the scan going, improve the mental picture etc. It is not a replacement for basic stick and rudder flying. X-Plane runs on PC, Mac and Linux, interfaces nicely with Skydemon. You need a good graphics card. You can download the full version for free that will run in demo mode for 10 minutes or so to enable you to check your hardware. The price is very reasonable. I had the Saitek yoke, rudder pedals and throttle, but prefer to fly with the mouse. A yoke with force feedback may be much better, the Saitek I have has a very springy feel, not realistic at all; the program itself is very good IMO.
It has a lot of settings, be patient in the beginning, it is well worth the effort to learn.
If you have an older PC, you may get along better with the older versions 10 or even 9.

Last Edited by dirkdj at 21 Jan 08:54

Anyone who wants to play with force feedback and has access to Epsom is welcome to come and play.

EGKB Biggin Hill

I found FS2000 brilliant for IMC Rating training. One should never go flying procedures unless one can fly them on the ground. It must have saved me a few k. I used just a cheap £10 “F16” stick.

Before that I used it to fly the qualifying cross country, so I would know what landmarks to expect

I haven’t used it since.

My sons were quite a bit into simming when they were little (one has 500hrs on FSX, and spent hundreds on aircraft models). We had a force feedback yoke and other stuff but it never worked properly.

Shoreham EGKA, United Kingdom

FS:X (Microsoft Flight Simulator X:Steam Edition) got me into flying. It contains lots of valuable background information for the uninitiated. I also learned quite a bit about IFR that way. I flew down many ILS approaches in FS:X before getting a hold of a real stick for the first time. I’m not IR rated so I cannot really judge the usefulness of this “training”, but I assume it would be sufficient to get me down an ILS alive in bad visibility (assuming no defects and no adverse weather). For VFR flying I found the PC less useful because it “feels” totally different from actual flying. I would often fly at max. cruise speed and altitude until the last possible moment, then set the power to idle, deploy full flaps, gear down and then try to land. You’d never do this kind of stuff in real life but it works often enough in FS:X

Novice pilot
EDVM Hildesheim, Germany

MedEwok wrote:

For VFR flying I found the PC less useful because it “feels” totally different from actual flying.

It’s great with force feedback controls.

EGKB Biggin Hill

I find X-Plane very useful. As for VFR – I sometimes ‘fly’ it into an unfamiliar airport that may be challenging for various reasons so I get the sight picture in my brain before actaully taking the airplane there. It syncs beautifully with ForeFlight, btw.

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