>> Learn the A320 operating procedures and systems

A320 simulator

What is more exciting than flying an airliner, such as the Airbus A320 or the Boeing 737? At least for a few hours in a simulator? Well, not much according to me!

What are simulators?

So, what are they? We’re not talking about the computer game that you play with a mouse and a keyboard, or even a joystick.
We are talking about a full cockpit, accurately modeled from a real aircraft, with almost all systems are simulated. All the buttons do work like in the real plane, and you can use the real operations procedures.

There are several kinds of simulators. The two largest categories are:

  • Fixed simulator (the cockpit doesn’t move)
  • Full flight simulator (the whole cockpit moves, as the cabin is mounted on hydraulics)

Airline pilots usually use full flight simulators when they undergo regular airline training and tests. Full flight simulators are more realistic, because they move to represent the simulated aircraft’s attitude as the pilots flies it. They are so realistic that one hour in them count as one hour in the real plane.

Full flight simulator

Full flight simulator – very expensive!

Today, a large and growing number of airliner simulators are available to the public. However, most are fixed and even then are still quite expensive (about 200€ per hour). A few are full flight simulators, but they are much more expensive (800€ per hour?) so the market for them among consumers would be way too small. I’ve only experienced the fixed ones.

My experience

Let’s be clear: I’m not an airline pilot. I don’t have real experience on airliners (besides sitting in the cockpit and observing real airline pilots, but that doesn’t count). I am looking for this simulation experience because I am interested in understanding how things work. Also, I see myself working as an airline pilot one day.

A friend and I pretending to be airline pilots

A friend and I pretending to be airline pilots in a fixed A320 simulator

I was lucky enough to find an A320 simulator designed and created by a hobbyist near Paris, who charges much less. The drawback is that the simulator is not certified, so you can’t log flying time on your pilot’s logbook. But it doesn’t matter, it is still the best solution to learning and experiencing the A320 systems and operational procedures! This cheaper simulator allowed me to do about 40 hours in total.

Programming the FMS - A320 simulator

Programming the FMS, which is accurately simulated

During these 3-hour sessions, I learnt the basic operational and emergency procedures for the Airbus A320, in both local training situations and line flights. I often invited friends to join me, and taught them what I knew. What a great and rewarding experience!

Some of the best learning items:

  • Everything from “Dark and Cold” state at the departure gate, to take-off, cruise, land and reach the destination’s gate
  • Learning of the aircraft systems and procedures
  • Go-around, diversion
  • Failure management (system failure, engine failure, engine fire)
  • Crew cooperation

Some great flights:

  • Approach at Innsbruck, Ajaccio
  • Flight over the Caribbeans (obviously with engine failure, diversion and emergency landing)
  • Flight around Corsica
  • Paris-Lyon in the simulator, followed by the same flight in real life in a real A320 cockpit (great to check the differences)
  • Same with Paris-Bordeaux

 Some videos

This is the first time I experienced recording with 3 cameras. It was the first time my friend went into an aircraft cockpit! In this video, you’ll find an engine fire at the end.

Same here, with another friend, and probably other types of failures.

The video below was shot in a simulator in Singapore, with a friend landing the plane.

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