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A flight simulator is a virtual reality system capable of simulating the environment of a flying machine for a pilot. Flight simulators are largely used for pilot training or for recreation/gaming, but can also be used to research aircraft characteristics, control handling characteristics, design and development of aircraft.
A flight simulator helps in artificially recreating the aircraft flight environment for pilot training, design or other purposes.The main purpose of a flight simulator is to help the pilot to achieve, test and maintain proficiency in handling airplane operation without involving any risk to property or lives, and at a much lower cost than training in the air. A simple flight simulator system consists of multiple displays, control devices, an audio system for communications and a computer system to process control inputs and record flight data.
Overall effectiveness and training efficiency are the chief reasons behind using flight simulators as training devices. Novice pilots can experience the flight environment and can learn from mistakes without any risks. It relieves instructors from safety considerations and flight duties. It is a cost-effective training solution as it saves crew time, fuel and maintenance of the real aircraft. The flight simulation does not depend on any environmental conditions and also permits repetition of the practice of a particular phase of flight. Accurate replication of numerous environmental and flight conditions is possible through a flight simulator.
However, the simulator is not able to replicate the mental conditions or stress level in a pilot when flying an actual aircraft. The simulator can not reproduce the boredom or fatigue involved in lengthy flights. Furthermore, certain aircraft flies quite differently in real life compared to flight simulators. Although a flight simulator can train pilots for different conditions, a flight simulator alone would not be able to give an accurate analysis of a pilot’s flying capabilities.