Flight simulators: everything you need to know

Those who want to learn to fly, either professionally or by testing themselves with new challenges, should know that an important part of their instruction will be carried out thanks to flight simulators.

The use of flight simulators in the training programs to obtain certain qualifications, such as instrument flight (IR), allows the student’s capabilities to be exponentially expanded in extremely diverse situations and scenarios, allowing to analyze, stop or repeat the maneuvers as many times as necessary to achieve optimal technification. Next, we explain what a flight simulator consists of, and in what situations its use is essential.

What are flight simulators and how are they made?

As its name indicates, a flight simulator is a device that uses computer programs (software) and mechanical and / or audiovisual resources (hardware) to recreate the existing environment in a flight situation, in general also reproducing the instruments and their Arrangement inside the cockpit of an aircraft, in order to provide maximum response fidelity in all phases of flight with respect to the aircraft it is trying to emulate.

The flight simulator is able to recreate with great realism the scenarios that a pilot may encounter during the flight, such as adverse weather conditions or failures of various systems, at any airport that appears in the database and simulating any time of day or of the night.

The almost infinite range of possibilities offered by the simulator allows the pilots to be instructed not only in the normal operation of the aircraft, but also under the most extreme conditions, all with an absolute safety margin and with an inestimable pedagogical plus since the maneuvers and procedures can be repeated and analyzed as many times as necessary.

In some cases, in the simulators known as “full motion”, the cabin is connected to a system of hydraulic arms that allows you to experience sensations in the cabin equivalent to those that could be felt in the air, in order to recreate the experiences in a more real way . This type of simulators are those used to obtain the Aircraft Type Rating (the specific prior course that every pilot must take when joining a company to fly a certain aircraft model) and the periodic refresher courses that airlines They program to keep the knowledge of their pilots in optimum condition, especially what is applied in emergency situations.


The EAS Barcelona simulators

At EAS Barcelona we have three FNPT II simulators. Two of them, used to train students in the instrument flight phase (IR), represent the same twin-engine aircraft model used in real flight by the school: the Tecnam P2006. As it is the same airplane model that the student uses in real flight, it greatly facilitates training, since the student can concentrate on executing the exercises without having to spend time getting to know the cockpit of an airplane other than the one normally used.

Our third simulator faithfully reproduces the instrumentation and flight characteristics of one of the most used aircraft on short and medium-range routes around the world: The Airbus A320.

The EAS Barcelona Airbus A320 simulator is certified “MCC enhanced”, this means that it allows not only to teach the Multiple Cabin Coordination (MCC) course, that is, the part of the training of a pilot that instructs him in teamwork and the existing division of functions in a commercial aircraft, but also in the transition to jet aircraft (JOC) and the company standards (Airline Pilot Standards) required in the airline access tests.


Both simulator models are used in the training of EAS Barcelona pilot students, both in modular and integrated courses, as an essential part of the training to obtain the ATP.

The certifications of flight simulators

All the hours that a pilot or student pilot performs in the simulator are counted as hours of flight experience, in the corresponding section of their logbook. For this reason, the types of flight simulators (or in English Flight Simulation Training Device FSTD), are defined in the Certification Specifications of the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which determines 5 different levels: OTD, BITD, FNPT, FTD, and FFS.

  • FFS (Full Flight Simulator): This qualification is obtained by simulators that constitute a real-size replica of the flight deck of an aircraft of a specific type or make, model and series, including the assembly of all the equipment and computer programs necessary to represent the airplane in ground and flight operations, a visual system that provides a view outside the flight deck and a movement system. They are commonly used to obtain the aircraft type rating and refresher courses for crews.
  • FTD (Flight Training Device): This is a life-size replica of the instruments, equipment, panels and controls of a specific type of aircraft in an open flight deck area or in a closed flight deck, including mounting of equipment and computer programs necessary to represent the aircraft in ground and flight conditions to the extent of the systems installed in the device. It does not require a movement signaling system or a visual system.
  • FNPT (Flight and Navigation Procedures Trainer): It is a simulator used in training that represents the environment of the flight deck, including the set of equipment and computer programs necessary to represent an aircraft or class of aircraft in flight operations, so that the systems appear to function as in the aircraft it emulates.
  • BITD (Basic Instrument Training Device): It is a ground training device that represents the position of the student pilot of a specific class of aircraft. You can utilize display-based instrument panels and spring-actuated flight controls, providing a training platform for at least the procedural aspects of instrument flight (IR).
  • OTD (Other training Device): means a training aid that is not an FSTD, but allows training when a complete flight deck environment is not required.

EAS Barcelona has three simulators –two Tecnam P2006 and one Airbus A320- FNPT (II) certified.