Flight Simulator - ACO plans & general advice?

Like many squadrons, we are very interested in building a flight simulator as a project for the cadets, and then use it (along side a training programme) for understanding the process and procedures of flight, as well as start to introduce and develop skills & techniques. In addition, we would like to use it for recruitment open days etc - ideally having a mobile unit.

1/ With the changes to the flying programme & AEFs, I see the new regional centres will each have a simulator onsite also. I understand the costs are in the region or £25k per sim. Obviously we do not have that kind of budget (and the discussion here is not on the costs that the ACO are paying), but I would be very interested to know if anyone has any further details of the plans for the sims that are going into the AEFs? For example - what is the software and hardware being used etc, as if we can emulate any of it with our project, then that would obviously be good synergy.

2/ For those Sqns that have built their own simulators already I would really appreciate any comments or suggestions on what to do, how to do on the build & development itself - plus any comments or suggestions on training programme afterwards.

Many thanks in advice for all help & advice!

There have been a few posts in the past about flight simulators, not a huge amount has changed.
Last I heard from my Aerospace officer, we are supposed to call them Part Task Trainers, and we shouldn’t use Air Cadet Aircraft or teach the procedures for them due to safety worries.

However in terms of answering your questions:

[quote=“MelEvans1975, post:1, topic:2275”]
1/ any further details of the plans for the sims that are going into the AEFs? [/quote]

I believe that all the new simulators will be coming from RC Simulations Ltd, and at least the glider simulators are shown on this page of their website.
I couldn’t say if they are using X-Plane of FSX but that doesn’t really matter, you can get them to work together. The biggest thing with their sims is having the dual control mechanisms, everything else is very achievable for a sqn.

My first bit of advice would be to decide what you want, one or two big shiny simulators for recruitment/training, or lots of small/medium simulators so you can engage/teach lots of cadets at the same time.

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We started looking at this about a year ago, we now have 3 PCs used for flight simulation; in short, they were high level gaming PCs (from Maplins, discount for youth organisation & purchase of 3) with highest spec graphics card. Each has a joystick & rudder pedals (also with youth discount). We will be able to expand them to link them together if required, or augment them in the future with extra screens to give a “wraparound” visual option or build a cockpit around one.

Looking at the proposed new flying badge scheme, this will be very useful to mirror the initial blue badge PTT training. We can have 3 cadets going through a syllabus at the same time.

Your options will be dictated by budget; I think we spent a total of about £6K on PCs, joysticks, rudder pedals & software (XPlane).

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I’ve always resisted the idea of getting a flight sim as it will be expensive, take up a lot of space, spend a lot of its time idle and will generally not be used in a particularly useful manner. unless we force the issue.

We could either get a simple PC, hook up some basic controls and run FS-X on it, but cadets possibly have a better set-up than that at home.

If we want to do better than that then I do not believe the half-assed versions being sold to RACs are good enough or different enough worth the additional expense - you need to step up your game and go for an isolated sim seating 2 with a wraparound display and an intercom, with somebody next door providing ATC services and possibly traffic.

Then there is the problem with what to do with them. Sims with an authentic layout are useful for training repetitive tasks such as running through checklists but that can be accomplished just about as well on a cardboard picture of the console. A general sim can be used for very basic familiarisation with the instruments (or you can find a good youtube video) then is next to useless until you want to go and do a navigation exercise and want to practice it in the classroom. for the whole “learning to fly an aeroplane” bit (at this level, with our equipment) you may as well not bother.

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From a previous thread, this was very useful:

If you go to 2158.co.uk1 and log in using the Username: Aircadetcentral and the Password: VentureAdventure
You should be greeted with the flight sim training page, all the lesson plans etc are on there.
If you want word formats I can have a dig around (sure I have them somewhere)


Be aware, 2158 will probably be shutting down that website in the near future as they are currently transitioning to a new design and host.
All the lesson plans are also hosted on the ACC Drive (\\Training\Flight Simulation/)

Guys, a squadron I know had two (yes, TWO) professional flight simulators by www.alsim.com a French manufacturer near Nantes. They had the AL-50 FNPT-1 (Flight Navigation & Procedures Trainer) and a G-Sim 30 BITD (Basic Instrument Training Device) with 180 degree wrap around graphics. They had flight models closely aligned to the Tutor, so much so that cadets trained on the G-Sim 30 would turn up at the AEF and amaze the pilots there with their flying skills! The BITD and FNPT-1 standard (JAR-2) allows up to 5 hours credit towards the award of a PPL here in the UK if a qualified instructor supervises.

The ACO has lost the plot here with the RC Simulation kit as it’s too much of a toy (or should I say and ‘Experience’) to have much if any training value.

IMHO the ACO should have looked harder and gone out to tender to find a suitable COTS solution to simulation but there again… when have we done anything by consultation or seeking ‘expert’ advice!

I am always bemused by the tendency of some older, senior people in the organisation to be impressed by a fancy chair, 2 screens and a bit of shaped wood and consider it a quality simulator.


2 screens? Pfft, ours has 3! lol

Our local RAC is kitted out with 4 (I think) simulators…
Over-priced tat in my opinion. Open chairs with three screens and an instrument panel with a few actual switches.
When strapped into the chair even I can’t reach the damn panel so god knows how a cadet with cadet-length arms will fair. And of course, as you’ve guessed, the chairs aren’t movable.

I’ve always been a simulation fan and I always like to make the distinction between “Flight Simulator”, “Cockpit/Instrument trainer”, and “just a bit of fun”.
The RAC sims fall somewhere between “instrument trainer” and “bit of fun”.

It seems crazy that we pay so much money for not very much.
You only need to look to the internet to find examples of kit, home built by enthusiasts, which meets or exceeds the standard of the commercial stuff we’re buying, sometimes for a fraction of the cost!

Here’s a guy who built his own 6DoF motion base using homemade lead screw actuators driven with motors from old vacuum cleaners! He later built a cockpit around this and turned it into a full motion gliding simulator.

It just shows what you can achieve with a bit of imagination and desire and rather beats the “sit in a static cockpit and pretend to fly a Viking on the monitor in front of you” approach that we’ve adopted.


It’s interesting that the current RAC simulation situation has been reviewed in a few regions, it looks like the current RC’s have seen what is in place and wondered WHY!

It would appear that no one consulted people ‘in the know’ that:

A. didn’t have a financial interest in the simulators


B. Knew what was out there and what was actually value for money in a COTS environment.

The current ‘fear’ that simulation in the ACO SHOULD NOT replicate any of our service aircraft is complete rubbish!

What I was appalled at was the ability of these RAC simulators to to replicate ‘generic’ combat aircraft and actually shoot things! And all this when we are not allowed to train cadets on shooting simulators!

Remember that the current OC 2 FTS was the champion of RAC’s and the simulators contained therein, even when shown what was available he went down the route that ended up with the RC Simulation ‘toys’. Yes I understand that there were budget restraints BUT one good simulator is better than several crappy ones!

What about the DCCT?

Like I said, we are not SUPPOSED to train cadets on shooting simulators! The DCCT is fine if you get a ‘friendly’ Army or ACF unit to let you use one. Within the ACO we don’t have that ‘ticket’ that allows us to officially use them!

Then why do SATTs run DCCT cses??

Not in our area, down to lack of DCCT’s!

That’s a very different reason from “…we don’t have that ‘ticket’ that allows us to officially use them!”

Well, it isn’t actually an entitlement that we can use them ‘officially’, if you look at the official line from HQAC there is no mention of the use of simulation within shooting. It is actually frowned upon (officially) as there is a difference between the simulator drills and ‘live’ shooting drills. It is however a throw back to when we had the Airfix gun OOPS! I mean the abortion of the L85A1 with the totally ludicrous manual cocking/single shot setup as cadets weren’t safe with semiautomatic weapons (whatever happened to us when we used the L1A1 and the ACF the BREN I don’t know)…

So when the L85A2 came into use, yes it is more relevant BUT we still don’t have an OFFICIAL entitlement!

Anyhow, back to flight simulation… The ACO does not have a handle on what constitutes a simulator that actually gives a worthwhile experience and some actual training value.

Any ‘open source’ software (Microsoft Flight Sim and or X-Plane) is fine but NO commercial flight simulation company that makes simulators to give credit toward a PPL, CPL, or an Instrument Rating is allowed to use such open source software mainly as it is so tweakable!

All the simulators I have seen in RAC’s & VGS’s are at best toys and have zero training value…

Here’s an old video of a flight sim I put together at my squadron.
Joystick has since been replaced by yokes. Based on a PA-38.