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Chapter Simulators Explained

November 2016 - EAA has successfully expanded its chapter insurance coverage to allow the use of flight simulators within the chapter setting. This has been in response to requests from many of our chapters to allow this change in support of their efforts to serve their membership, recruit new participants, and further their youth education programming. Access to a chapter simulator can be an excellent means for chapter memebers and IMC Club participants to keep current, to introduce members who are not pilots to flight, and as a way to reduce training costs for chapter members.

There are many devices that collectively are referred to as simulators, from desktop computers to airline-style, full-motion simulators. For EAA purposes, there are two FAA-approved simulators included in the chapter simulator program: the basic aviation training device (BATD), and the advanced aviation training device (AATD). These devices can be used to satisfy many qualifications for certification and currency requirements. The July/August 2012 FAA Safety Briefing describes these devices.

A BATD has hardware and software features that allow the FAA to authorize it for certain training and proficiency credits. These credits include:

  • Private pilot certificate — 2.5 hours of training for introduction to operation of flight instruments.
  • Instrument rating — maximum of 10 hours.
  • Instrument proficiency check — per FAA S-8081-4E (circle-to-land not authorized).
  • Instrument recency of experience requirements of 14 CFR Part 61.57 c2.

According to this same FAA Safety Briefing, an AATD “must meet the BATD approval criteria, but it must also incorporate additional features and systems fidelity that provide ergonomics representative of a category and class of aircraft flight deck. The AATD does not need to replicate a specific aircraft make and model, although many devices do.”

The FAA authorizes an AATD for the following training and proficiency credits:

  • Private pilot certificate — maximum of 2.5 hours.
  • Instrument rating — maximum of 20 hours.
  • Instrument proficiency check — per FAA S-8081-4E (circle-to-land not authorized).
  • Commercial pilot certificate — maximum of 50 hours.
  • Airline transport pilot certificate — maximum of 25 hours.

The FAA safety briefing goes on to state, “A quick way to remember the difference between basic and advanced is that the advanced version must be more representative of the aircraft cockpit design. It must also include a GPS and auto-pilot configuration.”

Simulators need to be approved by the FAA for use in meeting regulation requirements, and it is up to the purchaser of the equipment to make sure the manufacturer is AC 61-136 compliant. The manufacturer must undergo an inspection by the FAA for the device to be approved for the specific training it is certified to provide. The usage and approvals of simulators are specified upfront in simulator promotional materials, but if there are any changes made to the device by the chapter, such as new throttle quadrant, the user must work with the manufacturer to verify that the addition has been approved by the FAA.

The EAA simulator program assumes non-commercial operation and is restricting usage to members only, or for introductory use in attracting new members and for youth programs. Chapters may also charge a fee for the use of a simulator to help defray operational costs.

Access to a simulator can be a significant attraction for new chapter members. EAA is listening to our chapters through chapter leadership workshops and grassroots pilot tours and we are acting upon those suggestions to support our membership. A simulator will give your chapter another tool to grow your chapter and grow participation in aviation. For more info, email: lwroldstat@eaa.org.

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