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  1. #1
    150+ Forum Groupie magicaldr's Avatar
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    Lightbulb Question: Who would you rather have, a PPL or Sim Pilot?

    OK this is a response to the question that started being discussed in another thread: http://www.mycockpit.org/forums/showthread.php?t=9811 and also to the letters in last months and this months 'Pilot' magazine in the UK.


    The scenario is some in flight emergency has incapacitated the crew of a major heavy aircraft. Say a modern 747. Who should be in the cockpit? Would a PPL with 150 hours VFR on light singles be better than a FSX pilot who spends his whole life flying the PMDG 747?

    Last month in 'Pilot' the letters page included a response from a sim pilot. His contention was that the PMDG sim pilot would have the best chance. Modern aircraft he contested are not just about being able to fly. Its understanding the complex systems that make up the cockpit, and if you press the right buttons they will pretty much land themselves.

    This months 'Pilot' has the opposing view from a PPL with many hours both real and simulated. Pointing to a crashed aircraft which DNA showed was being flown by the chief steward after the crew were incapacitated by a pressurization problem. He wanted to know where the sim pilot was planning on flying so he could video the ensuing crash. His article ended with the question; Why do we pay pilots so much if you only have to push a few buttons? (They get paid for the times when the buttons don't work and you need a real, experienced and skilled pair of hands in my opinion.)

    Personally I feel the PMDG pilot has more chance than the PPL. True he does not know what its like to fly an aircraft 'for real'. True things happen very fast, and there is no pause button. Then again he knows where things are in the cockpit. He can use the radios and call for help. He can program an approach and let the plane fly itself onto the runway. It may not be pretty, but he will get the aircraft onto a runway with all the emergency stuff ready for him.

    The PPL wont have used any of this stuff, and a 747 does not handle like a piper. If he cant get his head round the auto pilot he wont have anywhere near as much chance as the PMDG pilot. There is hundreds of thousands of pounds of high tech computers there to make flying safer, but it wont do it if you dont know how to use it.



    The question is really a moot point in that if both these people were on board, there are 2 seats in the cockpit. Really you want them both, the PPL to 'fly', the PMDG pilot to operate the buttons and radios.

    Still I am interested in what others think. How far can simulation take you? Who would you choose?
    Last edited by magicaldr; 07-18-2007 at 03:07 PM. Reason: Cant spell :)


    FSX | Piper Warrior | GoFlight

  2. #2
    2000+ Poster - Never Leaves the Sim Trevor Hale's Avatar
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    Honestly, I would want the PMDG Pilot, However I would want to be in the Cockpit myself, just to make sure everything he did made sense. As long as the entire flight and approach was flown by moving the knobs on the MCP I would be satisfied that we would get on the ground in one piece.

    And if not. I couldn't complain about my decision because #1 I'd be Dead, and #2. Because I would die a happy man, being at the controls of a real 747.

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  3. #3
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor Tomlin's Avatar
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    Oh man, how many times have I been asked this by both 'kids' and adults alike who know of my simulation/aviation passion!

    It's a hard question to answer in a short span of time and words. Since asked, I will try my best to keep it short, but sensible.

    First off, yes, professional pilots who really do 'fly' big machines (and small aircraft too) are paid decent money because it takes a very specific skill set to operate any object moving thru space and time and especially in a 3-Directional environment, certainly when weather, traffic, and other normal flight-related activities are present.

    However, although simming is NOT 'flying', it's got a lot of the same requirements (if you take your simming as serious as all of us here do) for basic navigation, communication, and systems management. That being said, I believe that someone who really understands basic flight and the aircraft's systems at-hand, then they would probably do pretty well in the stated situation. But, the small aircraft guy would probably do ok too.

    However, the difference is that the PMDG guy (and I know the PMDG 737NG backwards and forwards) is confident in his knowledge of the 737. The average GA pilot has no clue.

    I, being only 31 years old, and not being a real-world pilot, have been blessed in my years to be around a lot of real pilot people, and in great situations. This is not to brag, but to make a point. I cant tell you how many times a GA pilot has watched me 'fly' the PMDG NG and marvel at my systems knowledge. To take it a step farther, I was given the oportunity to sit in a US Navy C40 (737-700 w/-800 wings) back 2.5 years ago when I worked at NAS Jax. I was there with a Navy mechanic and systems specialist (AE?) and he was simply blown away that I showed him exactly how to start the APU, go thru Normals, and the Start-up Sequence, all without looking at the checklist he had tucked between the two throttle levers. I have to admit, it was a proud moment for me. Then, just a bit over a year ago, I got to actually fly a Boeing P-8 sim built by FDS for Boeing/US Navy and the Boeing guy was amazed I knew how to fly the plane so well.

    The point? I have only 10 hours or so flying in Cessnas, Pipers, Maules (and me actually flying them maybe 2 hours total) BUT I have hundreds in the PMDG sim.

    Which one would be the safer bet? I guess we would just have to see, but I pray it would never be needed!
    Last edited by Tomlin; 07-18-2007 at 04:20 PM. Reason: misspelled word
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  4. #4
    300+ Forum Addict
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    This is probably the mother of all questions for sim-pilots.

    Could I land the plane? There is a big psycological aspect here if the situation would appear. How would a sim-pilot act if the situation appeared? Would he be overhvelmed by the situation and forget everything he/she knows in a second? Big chance for that.

    The PPL-pilot are not afraid for flying a real plane. But as written in one of the posts here, he probably dont know too much of the systems in the airliner.

    Best chance would be the combination of these two.

    The PPL-pilot as pilot flying and the Sim-pilot as systems resource.

    This kind of question will hopefully never be answered

  5. #5
    Without a doubt, the PMDG pilot. The guy who flys irregular hours on a ga aircraft with only his/her ppl would try to land the thing themselves with having no clue on the aircraft systems. Big Mistake. The PMDG pilot I think would be smart enough to know to let the aircraft land itself. No need for heroics when you only have one chance. Any one can fly, just like any one can drive, right? Well we all know the answer to that one

    Gary

  6. #6
    2000+ Poster - Never Leaves the Sim Michael Carter's Avatar
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    In that situation, I think I'd rather be anywhere but there.

    As a commercial pilot with an instrument rating with no heavy transport time and extremely little turbojet time, any 737 above the 200 series would have me utterly lost in a systems nightmare. I'd be better off hand-flying the aircraft rather than allowing something to go wrong because I punched the wrong button at the wrong time.

    I would fare much better in a 727. There is a retired 727 pilot at another forum who was under the impression I was a flight engineer as we discussed the merits and oddities of the 727. I had to explain how I came to know the aircraft as well as I do without having ever sat in the flight engineer's seat.

    I have flight manuals, systems manuals, structural manuals, electrical manuals, as well as the requisit checklists, performance tables, etc., ad nauseum.

    As for flying the thing, I couldn't honestly answer that unless the situation presented itself with no other options. 727 captains and first officers who designed and tested the DF727 say it flies truer to life than any training simulator they had ever flown.

    Some other 727 flight crew aquaintances have agreed.

    If I fly it like I do for every flight in all kinds of weather in the simulator, I might have a chance of getting it down in one piece as long as everything else is operating normally aboard the aircraft and the weather is MVFR or better.

    If under any other conditions, all bets are off.

    I've never sat in the driver's seat in a heavy commercial aircraft while it's rolling and pitching and yawing all over and I don't know how that feels nor how i would react. I can say what I would and should do, but that doesn't make it so when it's time to lay your cards on the table.

    A man's got to know his limitations.
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  7. #7
    25+ Posting Member Westozy's missus's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Trevor Hale View Post
    Honestly, I would want the PMDG Pilot, However I would want to be in the Cockpit myself, just to make sure everything he did made sense. As long as the entire flight and approach was flown by moving the knobs on the MCP I would be satisfied that we would get on the ground in one piece.

    And if not. I couldn't complain about my decision because #1 I'd be Dead, and #2. Because I would die a happy man, being at the controls of a real 747.

    My tidbit!
    I'd be ordering chardy and telling Gwyn to get up there and land this thing....in a very polite and calm manner of course!!! I give him a hard time but I have every faith he'd get us down in one piece....

  8. #8
    1000+ Poster - Fantastic Contributor AndyT's Avatar
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    Cool

    Personally I think the guy you really want up there is the Cockpit building PPL that sims heavy iron.

    Difficult question with no set answers. It really depends on the 2 people you have to choose from. How competent is each one with his flying ability? Is the PPL a CFI? Does he have an Instrument rating?
    God's in command, I'm just the Pilot.
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  9. #9
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    Very interesting question.

    I'm a commercial pilot in R/L and I've been interested in sims for a few years.

    I think that if you are experienced on some of the excellent full cockpit sims that I've seen here ,,, you might have a chance or even a slight edge over a low time private pilot.

    One thing that would be worrysome ,,, in my opinion,,, would be that a person soley trained on a simulator ( unless its one of those $15 million level D things) would be quite surprised at how daunting a task it is to land an aircraft in any kind of crosswind or turbulence.

  10. #10
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    Quote Originally Posted by Westozy's missus View Post
    I'd be ordering chardy and telling Gwyn to get up there and land this thing....in a very polite and calm manner of course!!! I give him a hard time but I have every faith he'd get us down in one piece....
    "Drink rate, Drink rate" "Pull up, pull up"

    I think a PPL would do ok if he knew the numbers, you don't get to PPL without being able to 'feel' the aeroplane and be able to handle G loadings. A sim pilot without any flying experience would maybe survive the ordeal who knows?
    Sims definately help, I had 4 years of simming before real flying. I never missed an approach, solo'd at 8 hours and was turned loose at 18 hours. It seemed easy to me at the time. Three times I had big scares flying lightys and it's how you cope when things are going wrong which is the real test. That's real flying - 99% pure joy, 1% shear terror! I've had a bit of both...

    Gwyn

    737NG using Prosim737, Immersive Calibration Pro, Aerosim Solutions motorized TQ & cockpit hardware, CP Flight MCP & FDS SYS1X, SYS2X & SYS4X, FDS PRO FMCs, AFDS units & Glarewings, Matrix Orbital ELEC display, Pokeys Landing & Cruise alt display, Buttkicker Gamers, 3 x BenqMW811ST projectors with a Matrox Th2Go
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