While I firmly believe in the value of desktop simulator training, there are definite limitations. Here are some items that impractical to teach well in a desktop simulator environment:
- Takeoffs / landings: While there is definite training value in practicing traffic patterns and approaches, we cannot effectively teach landings in a simulator, as they are highly dependent on seat of the pants feel, proper height above runway/visual cues with peripheral vision, etc. However, the good thing is that when you don’t have to think as much about the other tasks which we can effectively train in the simulator (the relationships between pitch and power, approach procedures, monitoring ATC, etc.), you will be able to focus more on just landing the airplane, and learn landings more quickly.
- Preflight / fueling procedures / walkarounds / postflight
- Seat-of-the-pants cues, such as the feeling of uncoordinated flight and buffeting as you get close to stall
- Muscle memory (pushing buttons on the GPS, for example) – unless you have a more sophisticated setup with physical hardware or touchscreens