Positive effects of combined aircraft and simulator training on the acquisition of visual flight skills

Ioana Victoria Koglbauer*, Michael Riesel, Reinhard Braunstingl

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In visual flight, student pilots learn to control an aircraft by visual reference to the natural horizon and to the cockpit instruments. During real flight, they practice the processing of three-dimensional spatial information and the procedures for controlling the aircraft. Currently the simulator training for ab initio pilots is restricted to radio navigation procedures. However, the instructional potential of flight simulators could be better exploited because their use is independent of visual meteorological conditions, they are cost-effective and emission free. This study investigated the effect of combined real and simulator training on performance and skill acquisition of flight students during real flight. An evaluation study was employed with 61 ab initio flight students in a pre- and posttest design. Real flight tests were performed before and after the simulator training. Results show that trainees' flight performance in the aircraft was significantly better in post-test than in pre-test. The performance in post-test correlated significantly with performance in the simulator. These findings show that simulator training improved trainees' performance during real flight. The student pilots could generalize the skills for visual flight control across a variety of cockpit designs. The use of generic flight simulators could be extended to training basic flight skills such as the processing of three-dimensional spatial information, and the procedures to control the aircraft by reference to the natural horizon.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)309-318
JournalCognition, Brain, Behavior
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2016

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Psychology(all)
  • Engineering(all)


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