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SAFE Urges FAA to Rescind Flight Simulator Policy Change

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The Society of Aviation and Flight Educators (SAFE) has criticized the FAA’s Jan. 2 Notice Of Policy Change that restricts the use of flight simulators as an action that will adversely affect flight safety. As of Jan. 1, 2015, a maximum of 10 hours of simulator time will be allowed toward an instrument rating. Currently, pilots working on an instrument rating may log as much 20 hours in FAA-approved flight simulators known as Personal Computer Aviation Training Devices (PCATD), Flight Training Devices (FTD) level 1-3, Basic Aviation Training Devices (BATD and Advanced Aviation Training Devices (AATD) under currently issued Letters of Authorization for those devices. “The FAA should be encouraging better pilot training, not discouraging it,” said Doug Stewart, SAFE executive director. “The extra simulator training hours allowed by those LOAs is invaluable.”

The policy change will eliminate all simulator LOAs issued prior to Aug. 23, 2013—requiring most manufacturers to reapply for an LOA. No new LOAs will allow more than 10 hours of simulator time to be credited towards an instrument rating. SAFE’s Stewart went on to say, “FAA officials, understanding the value of simulators in flight training, have been issuing these LOAs since 1980. The proposed policy change will take away much of the incentive for pilots to improve their skills in a better classroom than a noisy cockpit.” The use of simulators has long been recognized to improve flight safety and has cut down on training accidents, as it is far safer to practice certain emergencies in a simulator than in an airplane. Comments on the policy change are being accepted at Regulations.gov.

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