… you do not have the outcome of death to motivate your reactions.

From Issue 77, Nov-Dec 2010, Flight Safety Australia magazine; in an article discussing the use of Flight Simulators


Other instructors say the pause button on a simulator can be overused. Chief Flying instructor of Coffs Harbour-based Professional Pilot Training, Robert Loretan, remembers an experience early in his career that taught him a hard lesson about how to use simulators appropriately.

The incident happened when he was an exchange instructor in the US Air Force on the Northrop T-38 Talon supersonic trainer.

‘I taught a girl on a T-38s in an all-singing, all-dancing, six-axis, terrain-modelling, full mission simulator. The T-38 at 160 knots on Finals with a simulated engine failure was behind the drag curve, and too slow to go around, or even maintain a three degree approach path. To imprint this danger into her perception I put the simulator on Finals too slow and too low and we could not maintain the approach path in afterburner, so we crashed short of the runway. We did this three times.’

‘The images were very real and I was scared by the experience. I became determined not to let my jet get into that situation. However, she was relaxed and just hit the reset button to put us back on to Finals as though nothing had happened.’

‘She went flying with another instructor a day later – they got in the same situation, she delayed her reaction because she did not understand the outcome, and they hit the approach lighting just short of the runway. Fortunately they got the ’burner in on the second engine just as they hit, and they got enough vertical trajectory to eject safely as the aeroplane broke up.’

‘I blame myself a bit – I let her crash in the simulator and taught her the wrong thing when I thought I was doing the right thing. The problem of practising dangerous activities in a simulator is that you do not have the outcome of death to motivate your reactions: if you let ‘You explain how you’re flying the aeroplane by attitude and set it up for them – their eyes aren’t even outside – they’re flying by artificial horizon, because that’s what you do on flight sim. You can pick it straight away. ‘it get to the point of crashing you can cause a negative transfer into the perception of the pilot.’

However, Loretan says the safest place to practise dangerous activities is in a simulator.   ‘As an experienced pilot, I transferred the aeroplane skills to the simulator to build my situational awareness for operations in the aeroplane. She took the same experience in the simulator to the aeroplane and damaged her situational awareness.’

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