Simulators have been integrated into flight training at various levels for decades, increasing in utility as they increased in fidelity. Today, practically all levels of qualification in passenger-carrying commercial airliners can be obtained entirely in the simulator, with the first experience in the aircraft on a revenue-producing flight. Flight training in the U.S. is a tightly controlled, highly regulated process overseen by the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). It is also a very successful one; commercial aviation maintains a remarkable safety record. To that end, pilot training has been studied and analyzed extensively over the years, and as to the focus of this paper, the efficacy of simulator training has generated as much debate as consensus with regards to the utility of the devices. Much of this research, to include experiments, has focused on simulator fidelity – how well the device replicates the actual aircraft – and to what extent that training transfers to the aircraft. Very little research has focused on the role and interaction of the simulator instructor with the student(s) and what impact he/she has upon the final training result nor has elements of current instructional design methodology been considered. This paper analyzes vital simulator training concepts, examines accidents and incidents where the investigation revealed potential deficiencies in the training devices used by the crews of these airplanes, and then considers the role of the simulator instructor through the lens of modern instructional design concepts. The authors provide suggestions as to the direction of further research into the vitality of this role in maximizing the potential of training with flight simulators to further safety goals.



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