The FAA has proposed a new rule requiring that simulators accurately reflect an aircraft’s handling characteristics up to 10 degrees beyond the stall AOA (Read the full Aviation Week Network article HERE).
While it’s a step forward in recognizing a shortfall in perishable piloting skills, we as a community have a stick and rudder problem, not a simulation problem. It’s disturbing that the FAA concedes that that the new extended simulation model still will not fully represent the actual handling characteristics of the aircraft, because in some cases the flight test data either doesn’t exist or will be expensive to acquire, potentially leading to a “type representative” model. Yes, we must continue to improve the fidelity of our sims to provide an effective training tool, but the larger issue is the simple fact that some pilots have either forgotten the fundamentals of how a wing flies, or were never adequately trained in the first place.
In-aircraft jet upset training with a back to basics approach to train pilots how to respond to a loss of control event is the closest training to the real thing. With a highly trained instructor and a capable aircraft in a very safe environment, pilots are able to learn effective recovery skills that are repeatable and directly transferable to transport category jet aircraft.
Let’s get this right. Doing upset as part of annual training in the simulator hasn’t moved the needle in reducing loss of control incidents in the last decade. Signing up for an in aircraft upset training course doesn’t mean you are deficient in piloting skills. It means that you recognize that there is another tool you can add to your toolkit, and additional training that can increase your odds of keeping yourself and your passengers alive if the REALLY unexpected happens. Sounds pretty smart to me.