Using flight sims to stay current
As everyone probably knows and as I now have noticed, staying current IFR requires much more work (at least for a novice) than staying current VFR. When I did the skill test earlier this year I was feeling pretty comfortable, quite obviously so considering that I had flown 1-3 times each week the preceding month, flying approach after approach (which is another topic).
Now that I do have my IR rating and use it for A->B I notice that it doesn't take much to feel a bit rusty. When flying from A-B it's always been vectors to the approach, which usually is ILS or VOR. I only do full procedures in training purposes as well as holding patterns and NDBs.
Another factor for me is that I need to get 100% comfortable with the G1000 way of doing things IFR.
Unfortunately winter is soon here and the number of hours will decrease rapidly in November (according to previous years). So to the question, how many of you use flight sims to stay current? If you do, what software do you use?
So to the question, how many of you use flight sims to stay current?
When I am not flying much or when I had/have an unusual approach to do (involving DME arcs or racetrack patterns over NDBs and suchlike) I will fly it on the simulator first. Just to get an idea about the timing required and where to configure the aircraft. But apart from approaches there is not much worth training on a simulator. Apart from emergencies, but my employer buys me some real simulator time for that.
If you do, what software do you use?
As a Macintosh user for almost 25 years, there is not much choice: X-Plane. Or the FNPT II procedure trainer of our flying school (which I am in charge of and therefore can log "maintenance").
When I was doing a IMCr on a SR22 they gave me a PC Garmin Prospective simulator. I don’t know if it’s still available, but I try and use it once a month. I can set it up to start 10 miles out from my local field and fly the approach with a added cross wind. I found it an excellent procedure trainer and even chose to do an ADF procedure for the test. Don’t know if it’s still available but did find this link:
Unlike what the video says, mine can have dual screens. I do find changing frequencies etc fiddly with the mouse. It does work fine on a MAC with Parallels.
I do. I don't do much IMC flying, though I did 20 mins the other night, so I so use MS Flight Sim, with a decent PA28 installed + a GNS430 and do practise instrument scans, approaches, the unofficial letdown into my home airfield, and occasionally unusual attitude recoveries. And near IMCr revalidations I do attempt a few NDB holds.
Norman: Thanks for the video, I'll check out some of the suggestions.
PiperArcher: Can you load both arrival and approach procedures on that PA28?
What_Next: I did install X-Plane recently on my MAC and it's working perfect to do basic IFR training with the dials, but I miss the 'systems' part of it. Programming G1000 or 430 with procedures.. the pre-installed aircraft with G1000 is nice looking, but all the important features have been left out unfortunately. Perhaps I will have to get Garmin software (or similar) for that part and X-plane for the flying part (scanning technique etc).
I am also running X-Plane on Mac at home. Its good to do basic IFR stuff, but as Martin said i miss the system programming stuff, such G1000/GNS430 IFR system handling incl Approach/departure support.
There is also an add-on for G1000 to X-Plane, i haven't tried it yet since the charting does not cover Sweden, but i think will buy it sooner or later anyway.
Take a look at the flight1 GarminG1000StudentSimulator. It's a G1000 sim that piggybacks FSX so you can simulate any scenario you want. It has a fully functional MFD with latest worldwide navigation database via Navigraph updates. Configurable for C172, 182, 206, DA40, DA42, PA28. SIDS, STARS, approaches- ADF, VOR, ILS or GPS WAAS - it's all there. I use it in the manner you describe.
Speaking of IR training-oriented simulators, there are also IP Trainer and On Top by ASA. The former is intended for development of the basic IR flying skills and gives you a sequence of over 100 specific tasks on a C172; in each task, your performance is assessed by a number of parameters (e.g. deviations from assigned altitude/heading/descent rate/turn rate/airspeed, reaction time, etc.) - quite rigorous and quite helpful in learning to fly precisely. The latter is designed for refresher training of qualified IR holders and gives you almost the same as 100-euro-per-hour FNPT II simulators: a range of types from C172 to Beech 1900, each with adjustable instrument kit, worldwide airport and navaid database, adjustable weather (including turbulence), manually introduced or randomly occurring instrument and engine failures, etc. Both provide maps and recorded tracks. I tried them first with an old Thrustmaster joystick, which felt totally unnatural; on the other hand, a Saitek yoke surprised me with a very realistic feel, especially with some turbulence activated.
I used 'RANT' (available from Transair) to help prepare for my IMCr lessons/exam. It's probably quite basic in comparison to the software others are describing, but I still maintain it saved me £hundreds in flying costs when trying to get to grips with the various sorts of approaches - particularly NDBs!