Text: Serge van Oosterzee - Translation: David Niemegeerts   © sbap 2017
Pictures: BFS, Carine Vanderhaegen, Aurélie van Oosterzee & Serge van Oosterzee

(© Brussels Flight Similators)

On a sunny Sunday morning I had the opportunity to test the Boeing 737 NG flight simulator for one hour in Zaventem at The Brussels Flight Simulators premise.  One word : AMAZING...
Once the friendly reception was done, and while we were waiting to enter the simulator, we got some instructions through a video describing the cockpit. The simulator itself is a copy of a real 737 cockpit. An external 180° screen gives you a perfect overview of the situation. Digital images were really realistic (rain for example...)
Once buckled in, a short briefing was done by the instructor, to explain the major equipment and gauges in the cockpit dashboard. We learned how to prepare the aircraft for take off, set up the flight course, speed needed to take off (V1 - V2 - VR), taking into account meteorological conditions, the atmospheric pressure adjustment, the crosswind effect to take into account, how to stay in the middle of the runway (I can testify this is quite hard when you have transversal wind), the thrust for the engines,...Events when you experience aircraft failures, there is always something new to learn.
Once taken off, after having set up the auto pilot, we performed some adjustments to the cruise altitude and atmospheric pressure. Then we analysed how to prepare for landing, by studying a map on the trainer tablet. Before the training I always thought that such maps were very complicated to interpret, but all info are understandable, once you received the explanation. Although there is a lot of information to assimilate, it remains logical to understand. You are then able to introduce all parameters in the computer for landing: ILS frequency signal, caps to follow, altitude, speed.

Even if the simulator stays on the ground (static), the screen outside the cockpit gives an impression of movement (turning, alignment on the runway,...). The sounds in the cockpit, such as engine noise and computer voice warnings, add some impressive realism.
After the landing checklist, you begin one of the most difficult parts of the flight: the landing itself.
After such a simulation you can begin to understand why it takes such a long time to train a pilot, and why the expected competence criteria are so high. If it wasn't the case yet, you definitely will have more respect for the crew, next time you fly ;-)
To recap, if you want to have a great new experience, or if you want to explore more advanced techniques of flight, this is definitely the place to go at a very democratic price.
You can count on it, that I will try it again in the future!

 "Wall-E briefing before departure Clearly like a real one!
 Glass cockpit of the Boeing B-737-800 EGPWS - Peaks display
 No more paper but a tablet for the flight plan TCAS display
 Radio frequencies Auto-Pilot settings
 Lower engines display unit and FMC (Flight Manager Computer) Captain "Wall-E" welcomes you on board ;-)
 Crosswing approach Go around and right turn
 Final RNW 06L The pedestal and a model for clear explanations
 General view of the Boeing B737-800 cockpit simulator...Amazing and impressive!
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