Graham Warwick/WASHINGTON DC

AN ADVISORYCIRCULAR (AC) approving the use of personal-computer-based aviation training devices (PC-ATDs) has been issued by the US Federal Aviation Administration, and is expected to simulate development of equipment costing substantially less than general-aviation flight-training devices now available.

The US National Air Transportation Association (NATA) flight-training committee, representing several flight schools, had resisted approval, but changed its position after accepting the results of research into the transfer of instrument-flying skills from the PC-ATD to the aircraft.

The AC establishes specifications for the PC-ATD, and allows a 10h flight-time credit for training using an approved device under the guidance of a flight instructor. The FAA requires 35h actual or simulated instrument-flight experience to obtain an instrument rating.

The AC details a device with aircraft-like controls. Such a device does not yet exist, believes NATA flight-safety-committee chairman Jim Hackman, who expects development to begin now that a specification and training credits have been established. He expects a PC-ATD to sell for only 10-20% of the $100,000-150,000 cost of flight-training devices now available.

The US Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association (AOPA), which pressed for approval of PC-ATDs, maintains that "-instrument students would be better trained if PC-based training devices were used at the beginning to teach and reinforce the basics of instrument scan, situational awareness and multi-tasking skills". Computer-trained students "-have little difficulty in transferring their instrument skills to the aircraft", the AOPA maintains.

Source: Flight International