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Canada Education The Military News

Royal Canadian Air Force Sees More Sims In the Future of Fighter Pilot Training 125

dakohli writes "Currently, Canadian Fighter Pilots spend about 20% of their 'stick' time in Simulators. RCAF General Blondin states that this will rise to 50/50 in the future. The article goes on to state that the U.S. Army is moving in this direction, although the U.S. Air Force is a little more skeptical. Aircraft are expensive to fly, and if the fidelity of a simulator is good enough then perhaps real pilots will spend even less time actually in the air. Slashdotters, do you think that this will actually make recruiting pilots more difficult, or is it a sign of the things to come beyond Military Aviation?"
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Royal Canadian Air Force Sees More Sims In the Future of Fighter Pilot Training

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  • Flight Sim Tech Here (Score:5, Interesting)

    by Pikoro ( 844299 ) <init.init@sh> on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:12PM (#42793149) Homepage Journal

    The fidelity is already there. Flight time in the sim is nearly as good as the real thing, especially considering when you are up on a motion platform.

    The sims are great for procedure training since you can simulate failures which would be expensive or impossible to simulate in a real aircraft. More sim time = less cash spent on keeping the real aircraft in the air but with the same amount (or more) experience for the pilot being retained.

    • No, it's really not. (Score:5, Informative)

      by Anonymous Coward on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:49PM (#42793355)

      For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

      For some platforms, yes, the sims are just fine. Less dynamic platforms (i.e. helicopters, big wing) work just fine with full motion platforms. It will never be "perfect." Many of the imperfections manifest in ways that are inherent in simplified programming, i.e. actually modeling fluid dynamics for how the jet handles with failed systems vs. just hard coding that things "will" or "wont" work at certain airspeeds.

      For tactical aircraft, however, there is absolutely no comparison. Yes, basic flight operations (taking off, landing, navigating) can be done relatively decently, but tactical flying (g-force, sun blind spots, etc) cannot be replicated in anything remotely resembling our current simulators.

      Not to mention that most tactical simulators dont include motion. A "full motion" sim can't replicate more than 1.0 G in any given direction, much less a sustained 5g pull. The technology simply doesn't exist.

      So do simulators have their uses? Absolutely. But there is no substitute for real flight time, and until we get some Star Trek -esque technology at our disposal, there won't be.

      • when you talk about the full motion sims are you talking about the ones that are effectively chairs on the end of robot arms? or different styles?

      • by CRC'99 ( 96526 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:14AM (#42793467) Homepage

        For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

        For the record, I'm a commercial pilot.

        Simulators have their place - but it is certainly nowhere near the experience as a real aircraft. Speaking from a commercial background, simulators are great at two things:
        1) Procedure
        2) Techniques

        Simulators are great in showing pilots how things work. Want to know what to expect in a fogged in approach to an airport and are learning how to use the ILS etc? A simulator is *great* in this role. You can do things in this combo that are GREAT for education. Does it come anywhere close to the real thing? Hell no.

        The other thing that simulators excel at is teaching things such as instrument scans - basically train you to keep an eye on all your instruments at the same time by developing an effective scan of them. No pilot flying on instruments will use a single instrument - flying is very complex and cannot be done like this. An effective instrument scan (A/H -> Airspeed -> A/H -> Altitude -> A/H -> VSI -> A/H -> DG etc) is very hard to grasp when first starting - and it is the bread and butter that keeps pilots alive when the weather is starting to deteriorate or you start to fly faster and bigger aircraft.

        Your standard 737 pilot will probably spend about 15 minutes out of every flight looking out the windows. The rest is monitoring instrumentation. I cannot understate how important this skill is - and simulators are perfect at developing those skills.

        So are simulators replacement for a real aircraft though? Nowhere near. Simulators should be treated as an addition to inflight training - not as a replacement for it.

        • by CRC'99 ( 96526 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:16AM (#42793481) Homepage

          Oh, and I forgot to include this link in my response above...

          Simulator training flaws tied to airline crashes:
          http://travel.usatoday.com/flights/2010-08-31-1Acockpits31_ST_N.htm [usatoday.com]

        • Combat flying is probably quite a bit different. I'm just an air warfare buff, so I have no firsthand knowledge but fighter pilots are very focused on what's going on outside the cockpit. They have to learn to scan for aircraft w/ or w/o a radar cue, tactics that are all about your position in relation to other aircraft, and obviously using weapon systems.

          A coworker interned with the military on some secret missile tech 15 years ago (I suspect he was working with HARM trajectories from what I could glean

          • by Loki_1929 ( 550940 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @03:21AM (#42794331) Journal

            If you're looking out the window for your enemy in a modern air combat situation, you're either about to die or lots of people screwed up in lots of ways.

            Nobody has given much thought to non-BVR air combat in about 10 years and for good reason. First sight, first shot, first kill. That's the whole idea of stealth and advanced detection systems for fighters: I'm harder to see, so I see you first, so I shoot first, so I go home minus one long range missile. That's why a $140 Million F-22 makes more sense than three $40 Million Eurofighters. Once the fight is over, nobody got within 40 miles of an enemy and all you have to tally up is the cost of three planes and three trained fighter pilots versus the cost of three missiles and some gas.

            • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

              I tend to agree. Everybody points to the Vietnam war as proof that dogfighting will never die, but my sense is that they simply got the timing wrong. There hasn't really been much in the way of dogfighting since - at least not with modern aircraft like those fielded by the US.

              Load a stealthy drone up with really good radar, missiles, and a liberal rule of engagement and I suspect it will dominate the skies just fine, even if it takes 15 minutes to turn a circle (assuming the missiles/radar have 360deg cov

              • by dywolf ( 2673597 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @10:44AM (#42796355)

                "since the vietnam war"
                There also hasnt been a real air war since Vietnam, and yet there's still be a few dogfight incidents.
                Missiles fail, missiles can be jammed/countered/evaded. What happens then? More missles? You can only carry so many. Turn and run? Not always tactically viable, and makes you a nice big target.

                Sensors can be evaded, thus negating the BVR combat space, letting him get that much closer and taking you by surprise. they can be vectored in on a blind spot (we dont -always- have AWACS radar coverage), they might appear from below you (particularly zoom climb interception profiles, aircraft that were never BVR to start with). hell, that's pretty much the whole concept behind stealth: to negate the other guys detection abilities and get him by surprise. As more and more stealth planes appear, as was bound to happen, it decreases the usefulness of the BVR-only concept, once again pointing out how focusing just on BVR will bite you in the ass.

                Point is, you cannot, just CANNOT, tunnelvision on just one tactic. You must remain flexible, you must not leave a backdoor wide open. And that is why to this day we still teach dogfighting tactics, perhaps even moreso than BVR combat training (because it's more complex, and less forgiving).

                You cannot build a giant nearly invulnerable death machine, and then ignore the thermal exhaust port that leads directly to the reactor core, even if it is only 2 meters wide.

                • by Rich0 ( 548339 )

                  Maybe, but I think the solution to all of that might be a stealthy drone with a missile launcher (whose missiles can vector 360 degrees), a fire control radar (with 360 degree coverage), and a gun (on a turret with 360 degree coverage).

                  The whole reason for dogfighting is that you can only shoot straight ahead, and I think that is mostly the result of it being difficult to fly a plane and aim a gun at the same time so they just make the plane into the turret. Plus, manned aircraft are large and radars are e

            • But if two $40 mil planes shoot down one $140 mil plane you are ahead in the next round.

              Part of the issue with Sims is that planes are SO expensive now we can't keep enough pilots ready to fly them. Back to your example, they have three ready pilots to one... The amount of things that go wrong on these expensive planes without being shot at evens the odds a bit while your pilot waits for another plane.

              Also, the US military is really trained to fight Russia or China.. About the only countries that can put e

            • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

              BVR combat is great when it works...but every time any air force has focused on it to the detriment of its opposite, it's bitten them in the ass.

            • That's why a $140 Million F-22 makes more sense than three $40 Million Eurofighters.

              Plus the F22 is much easier to simulate. Just put the trainee in an hypobaric chamber until they pass out.

        • by asylumx ( 881307 )

          I cannot understate how important this skill is

          Either you meant to say "I cannot overstate" or you don't think this skill is very important.

        • It seems to me that this could be greatly improved by displaying this information together on a glass MFD.

          It's a trade-off. Tunnel vision isn't always bad, if you focus on this theoretical "omnibus" instrument you watch it more closely, but the other information is right there without you having to break your focus. ... and of course you would still want the individual instruments for a variety of reasons from silly to serious.

        • For the record, I'm a philosopher.

          You are not arguing. First guy said Sims are almost as good as reality (but without reference to what aspects), second says Sims are not reality (mistaking the former as an argument of identity), third guy says Sims are useful for training.

          If you want to be arguing, let me suggest that the first guy says Sims is teh shit and better, even, than reality because it is cheapest. He suggests this cost-cutting measure to end wars once and for all.

          The second guy is a fighter pilot

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Im also a military aviator, and "for the record" helicopters are a hell of a lot more dynamic than all those "F" series bombers. Tactical? what, flying circles at fl230 and waiting for a non pilot to tell you to drop a jdam? yeah, must be hell, no way a simulator can give that realistic feel of pushing buttons and doing the darth vader on the radio.

            Go listen to some bad music and choke down that cock flavored bourbon you all seem to love.

      • I second the parent.

        Here at McChord AFB, we fly the C17.

        Sure, there are many things you can practice in the sim.

        But there are many more things that simply require the actual aircraft in actual conditions.

      • I think g-force is the biggest one. We had simulators that tilted and shaked back when Afterburner was new. Still doesn't mean I'd know what I'm doing or be able to do the movements I want to under 6 gs in any random direction.

      • by Anonymous Coward

        I don't remember any sims in Star Trek that simulated in-flight g's. But then again they use artifical gravity for everything, so not much in the way of g forces to train for.

        Perhaps the real lesson here is that we just need better inertial dampers and artifical gravity generators for our fighters.

      • Re: (Score:2, Funny)

        For the record, I'm a military aviator, and I've got plenty of experience in both sims and the actual aircraft.

        For the record, I flew hand built RC planes about 10 years ago. This qualifies me to comment on all aspects of aviation, both military and commercial.

      • A "full motion" sim can't replicate more than 1.0 G in any given direction, much less a sustained 5g pull.

        Is there any reason why a simulator mounted on a gimbal on the end of a spinning arm can't produce any amount of G in any direction?

        (OK, it can never simulate zero G but I"m guessing that's not very important for dogfight simulators)

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I am currently serving as a tactical jet aviator. These sims are very good for doing the repetitive, the part-task training needed to drive home the foundational habits and mechanics of whichever mission one may be training to. The ability to stop, analyze, play out and (lather, rinse) repeat is a very important component in building the abilities of a tactical aviator. To be sure, you wouldn't train to be a baseball player simply by playing scrimmage games. You simply don't get the repetition to effectivel

      • by CRC'99 ( 96526 )

        These sims are not, generally, capable of replicating either the variety of stressors that occur in actual training missions (not to mention combat), nor the physiological strains that actual flight places on the pilot.

        I don't believe you need to be in combat, nor on any kind of military mission to have stress levels increase - sometimes to breaking point.

        I've seen stories of relatively inexperienced first officers on 747s go crazy on an approach to an airport among thunderstorms and bad weather. My favourite one was an asian first officer who freaked out, started singing some song in korean and forced the captain to do the workload of two pilots to land. Most of the training leading up to this was in simulators.

        I've seen

    • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      One of the interesting things that I never thought about until I experienced it, is that because flight models are typically generated based on data from prototypes during late stage development, simulated aircraft generally fly like they just rolled out of the factory. The aircraft that most pilots fly are often closer to the end of their serviceable life than the beginning. (The oldest of the tails that I currently fly has exceeded its planned service life by a factor of 3) This does make a big difference

      • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

        Excellent point. And lets not forget, these arent company reps and engineers working on them usually. It's airmen and sailors and Marines. A lot of us are damn good. But we're not perfect, and these complicated machines. Sometimes it may take a month to get a really ornery gripe sorted out.

        "New" cobra and huey models are coming to the Marines now. Some of those are all new airframes. Others are upgrades of existing airframes...and of those, some of those were upgrades of previous airframes too!

        The mystery,

      • In the sim, you are never scared

        Guess you did not have the same instructors I did...shouting, weird failures, then just for extra fun letting off a fire extinguisher in the cockpit while you're on short final, with nasty wind shear and one engine out. I don't know if I was scared, but I was certainly sweating ;)

        (For the record, the first two times I buried it just before the paint).

    • by Joce640k ( 829181 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @05:06AM (#42794685) Homepage

      Given the number of hours things like the F22 have managed to stay airworthy I'd say simulators were the future, yes.

  • Why not? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by pushing-robot ( 1037830 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:12PM (#42793151)

    In a decade or two, most of them will be flying drones anyway.

    • by Hentes ( 2461350 )

      Just because a drone is controlled remotely with an interface similar to a simulator doesn't mean it behaves like a simulated aircraft. It's still flying through real-life air.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    Why not self flying aircraft? The human is the weakest link in the chain.

  • I vaguely know a guy who is a flight enthusiaist, but not an actual pilot... He's clocked thousands of hours in flight sims and sometimes does trial simulations of real passenger craft routes and the like.

    I think he's crazy, but apparently actual pilots often call him for advice on landing at one specific airport in south east asia...

    • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

      There are Traffic Control enthusiasts out there too, whole log in solely to give directions to the Flight enthusiasts. Its a very strange hobby in my opinion but I can see how it might be fun :P

      • by Anonymous Coward

        Until they all go on virtual strike and a political enthusiast logs in as the President and fires them all.

  • the USAFs F-22 and upcoming F-35 both only come in single seat versions... there is no tutor flights, you go from sim to solo. If a sim can train a pilot who has never flown a F-22 or F-35 to fly one... why not keep pilots sharp for cheaper. I know the RCAF will let pilots take CF-18s 'home' (to an airport near their home), just to keep flight hours up. All the fuel, wear, and maintenance on the jet costs a lot, just for some stick time.
      • by Oroka ( 1644579 )
        That is not cool. He was practicing a high alpha pass for an airshow when an engine quit on him. There is not a thing he could do other than punch out. If you read up on the incident in the brief moment between flame out and stalling he tried to restart the engine, it wouldn't start, and he punched out a few hundred feet above ground. The fact that he survived the crash is a testament to his training. He was seconds from death and was trying to save the jet, still he followed his training. You dont ge
    • by dywolf ( 2673597 )

      Um...you realize these pilots are not soloing right? That's not what that word means. To solo means to take your first "solo" flight. These guys already did that.

      These guys have already been through over a year's worth of flight training, including actual flying, before even strapping on one of those F22s or 35s.

      They dont put a guy fresh out of OCS into a sim and then right into a plane. You go through close to 6 months of ground school before you even get in a cockpit. What cockpit you ask? These days a T3

  • I live in Canada. The only people who are dangerous are the idiots south of the border. North? Polar bears. And they're drowning. East? Greenland. Yeah. I'm terrified of the Greenland invaders. West? More of the same idiots from south of the border. (Not everyone south of the border is an idiot. It just seems that way sometimes. Like electing George W Bush to anything beyond dog catcher.) So, really, the only real threat to Canada comes from the country that supplies our military gear. So, if we ever got in
    • by dryeo ( 100693 )

      The Russians are building submarines and ice breakers as fast as they can and they're all being stationed in the northern sea. Of course we're pretty well as helpless against the Russians as the Americans. When you're outnumbered by at least 10 to 1 in both manpower and equipment...

  • This is the Canadian armed forces who are so chronically underfunded and undersupported by their government that their submarines blow up on their remaidened voyage, that their special forces capture and torture to death children caught stealing from their base in Somalia.

    I despise the US idea of shoot anything that moves but I'd much rather have that than an underprepared military with little support from the government whose dirty work they do.

    At Kapyong in Korea the Canadians showed they the best sol
    • by jjohnson ( 62583 )

      Wow... First time I've seen a callout to 2 PPCLI over Kapyong [wikipedia.org]. Definitely a high point in Canadian military history.

      • Well as I understand it Princess Pat's Regiment were of a similar standard to the average good Canadian infantryman at the time. They just happened to be in the right place at the right time and saved Seoul from falling to the Chinese and potentially stopped the UN from losing the Korean war. Not bad for a night's work.
      • The Big Picture: Salute To The Canadian Army [youtube.com]

        2 PPCLI on parade, with Brigadier Gault in attendance.

    • by Dzimas ( 547818 ) on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @12:40AM (#42793587)
      Canada's military spending ranked 14th in the world in 2012. There are 180 nations in the world that spend less on their militaries - hardly chronically underfunded. Canadian soldiers are dedicated and extremely hard working; your attempt to slander the present day Canadian Forces because of an event that occurred 20 years ago is ridiculous. We are not proud that two Canadian soldiers beat a teenager to death in Somalia in 1993, but they don't represent the 115,000 active and reserve personnel in today's CF in any way, shape or form.
      • HMCS Chicoutimi.

        Nuff said.
      • What were the circumstances of the death? were they extensively provoked? soldiers don't usually just beat people to death for no reason - unless they are drunk. It would interesting to hear the facts of this case rather than possibly just slandering two soldiers without considering mitigating factors.
        • The Canadian soldiers were being stolen from every night, at first in an ad hoc way, then later on a systemic basis. These were reportedly the best soldiers in the Canadian army but they had been trained for war and not dealing with hordes of pilfering children. The soldiers got wound up so tight that they would catch kids and beat them. Later they started to torture them. Eventually one of the kids died. Somalia brought out the worst in a lot of the armies there and this behaviour was by no means restricte
          • by Phrogman ( 80473 )

            They were members of the Canadian Airborne Regiment, and I think mostly because of this event, the CAB was disbanded thereafter.
            I knew a fair number of guys in the Airborne and while they were admittedly gungho, they were only usually bad when in large groups. Individually they were nice guys for the most part. In groups their morale and intensity got them a little riled up shall we say.
            There is no excuse for what happened in Somalia mind you. Every army and every unit has its bad eggs, and the Airborne att

            • I knew a fair number of guys in the Airborne and while they were admittedly gungho, they were only usually bad when in large groups. Individually they were nice guys for the most part. In groups their morale and intensity got them a little riled up shall we say.

              If they were bad in groups then they were bad individually, you just didn't notice.

    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      I would not bring up one unfortunate incident as a standard of Canadian conduct, especially in comparison to the US forces. We're only 'underfunded' and 'unsupported' in the viewpoint of a country that needs a huge army to bully every one with.
      • It was not one isolated incident. It was the final and most extreme of a long series of incidents. Your commandos were totally unprepared, had no training for that social/political environment and had insufficient support. It was, when seen in retrospect, almost inevitable.

        After the parliamentary inquiry things did improve somewhat but to this day whenever I hear that my nation's forces have been deployed alongside Canadian forces I get an uneasy feeling that doesn't go away until the deployment is over.
        • I believe that the root cause of the problem is that Canada's defense is too important to the US for them to allow it to stay in Canadian hands.

          Then you believe nonsense. Canada is a soverign nation that governs itself and runs its own military.

          ...whenever I hear that my nation's forces have been deployed alongside Canadian forces I get an uneasy feeling that doesn't go away until the deployment is over.

          If that is true, then you may want to see a doctor or other mental health professional as you may be suffering from an anxiety disorder, or perhaps some other form of mental illness. Although your problem may not be curable, your symptoms may be treatable to allow you to go on with life in a world with Canadians (and the Canadian military) in it.

          The tragedy of canuckophobia [wikipedia.org]

        • by Anonymous Coward

          You can't talk about this incident without mentioning the Canadian response:

          We disbanded the regiment involved in disgrace.

          The Somalia incident was unquestionably a low point in Canadian Army history, no doubt about it. And it revealed a systemic problem within that particular unit that, as you stated, had been around for a very long time. But our response was drastic - shut down the unit, imprison the worst offenders, fire a slew of them, and break up the ones worth saving into other units spread across th

          • Australia.

            Yes, the Canadian government's response was swift and effective and I thought at the time that they had turned things around. But lo and behold it turns out that the Canadian government thought the root cause of the problem was in the military while it was really in the government itself trying to do too much with the Defence allocation, spending on the wrong things, buying the right things the wrong way. The military does what the government tells it to and until the Canadian government gets it
      • We're only 'underfunded' and 'unsupported' in the viewpoint of a country that needs a huge army to bully every one with.

        Don't worry, the Soviet Army is gone now. Thankfully NATO was able to outlast the whole rotten system of militant, milatarized, oppressive Soviet Communism.

        And what a nasty giant they were back in the day too.

        Soviet Military Doctrine [foreignaffairs.com]

        Soviet ground forces are composed of more than two hundred divisions, all mechanized, and organized under army, front and high commands in at least five theaters of military operations. They possess more than 53,000 main battle tanks, 48,000 tubes of artillery, mortars and multiple-rocket launchers, 4,600 surface-to-air missiles and 4,500 helicopters.

        The air forces include more than 4,900 tactical aircraft. Air defense forces have an additional 1,760 interceptor aircraft, 9,000 surface-to-air missile launchers, and 10,000 warning systems including satellites, radars and air surveillance systems. Under the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the worldâ(TM)s only ABM system has been deployed around Moscow.

        The Soviet navy has 360 attack and cruise missile submarines, 274 principal surface combatants, and its own air arm of 390 bombers and 195 fighter aircraft.

        After the Soviet Union fell, the US was able to cut its defense spending [heritage.org], which had been falling over time anyway. Even with the cuts, the US was subsidizing Western Europe's defense.


        Or were you thinking of someone else? If so, could you

        • by mirix ( 1649853 )

          Oh boo hoo. The big bad communists made us spend all our money on weapons.

          Then, after the boogeyman went away... the US still spends more money than anyone else, in fact an amount similar to everyone else combined.

          Who will you blame for that?

          Under the terms of the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty, the world's only ABM system has been deployed around Moscow.

          Is that supposed to be a bad thing? The soviets pick their most populous city to defend - Meanwhile, the US picks a base in the middle of nowhere, North Dakota. Need I remind you who left the treaty, also.

    • by c0lo ( 1497653 )

      This is the Canadian armed forces who are so chronically underfunded and undersupported by their government that their submarines blow up on their remaidened voyage, that their special forces capture and torture to death children caught stealing from their base in Somalia.

      Well, afterwards they can extend the experience to Mounties, I hear they ride some aircrafts [wikipedia.org] too.
      And, you know? ... horses are pretty expensive too; maybe some sims would lower the pressure on the budget.

  • "make recruiting pilots more difficult"?

    So, [gender neutral diminutive term], do you want to kill people for a living? Do you not care if you can't tell the difference between when you're *really* killing people, or when you're just doing it in sim? Does the fact you'll sometimes really be killing people make up for only getting paid $25k? Boy, do we have the job for you!

    Meanwhile, on the rare occasions Canadians (or whatever other country you're from) actually feel like their country/way of life/etc is

  • by perpenso ( 1613749 ) on Monday February 04, 2013 @11:46PM (#42793339)
    Simulators can be very useful for pilot training. However their training value varies greatly depending on the task to be performed. Things relating to standard procedures and corrective actions for unforeseen events may be more useful, things related to air combat maneuvering (ACM) less so. Certainly ACM can be taught at an academic level in a simulator, learning the mechanics of a particular maneuver, being able to replay things from different vantage points, including your opponents. However the experience of actually feeling the g-forces during ACM is very important. Learning/practicing proper technique for maintaining consciousness, learning your personal limits, etc need actual flight time and the skills developed during this flight time are perishable. G-forces are also another input your brain learns to use. With experience a pilot can estimate how many degrees they have turned based on g-force and time, "that feels like 90 degrees", its just another thing that contributes to situational awareness and may negate the need to check a compass or external reference point. Handy if you have a more pressing thing to do.
  • Do they mean a 5x increase of time spent in simulators, with the same "real" flight time as now?
    At the other end, do they mean a 5-fold decrease in "real" flight time?

    Because it could mean anything in between...

  • I suspect it will mean more time in a sim yes, but largely due to the increased flight time.

    I.e., i don't see them cutting down on real fly time a huge amount, but the improved sim fidelity will enable more training on tactics, we with the same budget.

    For a combat pilot, combat tactics and avionics training are just as important as actual aircraft handling, and those things can be taught in the simulator pretty well.

    • For a combat pilot, combat tactics and avionics training are just as important as actual aircraft handling, and those things can be taught in the simulator pretty well.

      Yeah, but you can't simulate a 6 g turn, nor can you simulate a pilot coming "out of the sun".

      • by smash ( 1351 )

        You can somewhat simulate coming out of the sun - even some home sims like Falcon BMS do it. And yes, there is no simulation for G of course (I've been up in an old WW2 era fighter and even 4-5 G was like ... whoah... props to the guys in jets!) - which is why cockpit time will still be necessary.

        But things like radar management, weapons deployment, formation flight, emergency procedures, etc. can all be performed in the sim. There's a hell of a lot more to a modern fighter aircraft than point and shoo

  • A lot of sim time may not make it difficult to recruit pilots....it WILL make it difficult to keep them alive and able to win in both training and combat missions.

    I have over 1,200 hrs in the F-4 Phantom and probably 500+ hours in simulators.

    Even if a sim has a 100% accurate visual environment and simulates the aircraft systems perfectly, it can not simulate the physical environment (mostly the G's) of flying a training or combat mission. A real two hour mission in a fighter is roughly equivalent to liftin

    • Sounds like you know WTF you're talking about. Those of us with zero combat hours ought to listen to you.
      I've only flown at 60 knots, 1/10th the speed of a combat aircraft, and noone was shooting at me. A sim couldn't prepare me for that, an ultralight. Flying almost straight down at the ground (it seems) from 2000 feet up and keeping your noise pointed at the ground until a few seconds before you hit, without freaking out requires more than pretending on a computer screen. That's in a $2,500 plane
    • by Jmc23 ( 2353706 )
      So what you're saying is flying jets is awesome, right?
    • by gl4ss ( 559668 )

      so... you fly for Iranians?

      simulator time is still better than nothing, even with shitty simulator(ask russians).

  • "Microsoft Goose Simulator 2014"

  • Considering the next generation of high-performance aircraft will quite possibly be unmanned, this might not be such a bad idea.

  • From what I've read elsewhere, Canada's current Hornets cost approximately $10K per hour to operate, while their replacement, the F-35, has been estimated to cost over $30K per hour. With the F-35 costing so much more to operate, increased simulator hours for training become the obvious move. The alternative is under trained or unqualified pilots at the controls of $100m+ aircraft.
  • Most pilots want to be up in the actual sky, not in a simulation. Thus, if simulators are used more, at least rotate often between ground and sky so that the pilot gets the real deal often enough to keep their interest. Don't go for months of training with only simulations.

  • by rocket rancher ( 447670 ) <themovingfinger@gmail.com> on Tuesday February 05, 2013 @01:46AM (#42793941)
    I'm a private pilot with a multi-engine rating. Simulators seem to be a good way to rehearse cockpit procedures, but unless they figure out a way to simulate g-forces, that's about the limit of their usefulness. Simulating a spin recovery procedure is one thing, doing it for real with a two- or three-g load from the spin is another. With that said, I don't think commercial and military pilots are going to have a viable career field for much longer. Military pilots are already being replaced by drone operators, and I think the rate of replacement is going to accelerate if the drone program keeps posting the kind of successes it has enjoyed so far. Unmanned vehicles seem to be the future of military aviation. Commercial pilots will probably last longer, because commercial airlines have to convince a skeptical public that airliners are going to be as safe with a computer at the stick as they are right now with a human. Realistically, commercial pilots have a hand on the stick only during takeoffs and landings, but all modern heavies can land and take off under autopilot, and have been able to for about thirty years. IIRC, a Douglas Skymaster made a transatlantic flight completely on autopilot, including the take-off and landing, even farther back than that (late 1940s? have to google that) so the technology is definitely out there. IMHO, pilots are still in commercial cockpits (and will be there for a while) because the paying public wants them there, not because they need to be there.
    • We will still need pilots as long as it is possible to jam communications.

      With that said, the number of pilots we need has already decreased, and it will decrease further.

    • I doubt commercial pilots are going to disappear anytime soon, though their number will decrease, and their role might change.
      Autopilot might be able to perform as well as real pilots (or even better) for normal flight, and during some emergencies, but there's still the problem of catastrophic failures.
      If the whole system shut down (or has to be shut down) on an automatic train or car, you can just stop the vehicle. Obviously, that's not possible with a plane, you need a real person there to handle the situ

    • by jbwolfe ( 241413 )
      I'm a commercial pilot with an ATP rating (and 13000+ hours) and I have a few observations on your comments. Drones will continue to expand their roles in aviation, but will not likely replace pilots in people transport. It's less a matter of convincing the flying public than the insurance industry. We simply have not and likely will not achieve an artificial intelligence that can replace an experienced pilots judgement. Same could be said for miliary pilots but in the business of war, there are still "acce
      • but all modern heavies can land and take off under autopilot, and have been able to for about thirty years.

        Yeah, if the ILS is working correctly. Everybody knows they NEVER break down...

        Combine that with something (fairly) common such as a bird strike, and I'll stick with a dude up front, thanks.

        Of course, too many accidents (~25%) are still CFIT, so human pilots are far from perfect, but maybe we're getting a bit off the 'sim' topic here.

      • Thanks for the thoughtful reply. I have a few observations of my own, so I'm returning the favor. :) The ability to acquire experience, and the capacity to choose an informed course of action (judgment) is a very useful trait, indeed. But let me ask you this: What does a pilot do after bringing experience and judgment to bear on an in-flight situation? The pilot implements a procedure calculated to address the situation. The situations a pilot can encounter can be very diverse, as you indicated -- w

  • You would not believe how much time is wasted flying around waiting to train. Your training area is rarely near your airfield. You fly a few hours, then wait until other planes take turns doing the mission. You then roll in and perform the training mission, then quickly exit so someone else can. Now, you do need to learn to take off, fly long distances and land, but it is not useful training when you are focused on another mission. With the simulator, you can start in mid air and begin the mission right awa
  • Yes, I know that looks like more than 100%. As pointed out more eloquently by real military pilots, they need real flight experience. Rather than *replace* the real experience with simulation, use the lowered cost of simulation to increase the *total* time spent in training, and ensure that they can have some training every day to be in peak form, the same way most pro athletes train every day. If that's too much time for people to handle (because I don't really know how much time they spend now), lower
  • Considering that BOTH US and Canadian governments are poised to buy jets that cost between 100-200M a pop, is it really coming as a surprise that pilots will be training with more sim time VS taking the caddy out for a spin?

    Sure there are trainer jets and the like, however there are only so many of these, and they are old and getting older. Our F22 are hellish to maintain or so I hear and require a huge expense in maintiance hours for every hour of actual flight time.

    So yeah less more expensive jets equals

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