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My son has started on his own at a Part 141 school in Vacaville CA that claims that mix of 18.9 hours flight and 36.3 simulator hours both with instructor will allow him to check-ride. (Note that 18.9 allows only for 5 hr solo, 3 hr cross-country, 3 hr night, 3 hr instrument, and 3 hr prep check ride.

Are they blowing smoking knowing that he will need at least 16.1 hr more flight time to meet minimum FAR requirements? And knowing the national average is 60 hrs flight time. Isn't this just a marketing job to lower the total package price ($7,611) with more simulator time?

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    $\begingroup$ Possible duplicate of Can I count simulator hours towards a commercial flight certificate training? $\endgroup$ – fooot Jul 7 '16 at 17:25
  • $\begingroup$ Its possible its a lot of marketing BS, but it really depends on the type of simulator they have (ATD, FTD, class, etc). The recent FAA rules make simulator time towards ratings a lot more complicated. You should ask the school for statistics on simulator vs real time for check rides and if the school is reputable, they will have that, otherwise they are probably just regurgitating FAA minimums based on the equipment they have. $\endgroup$ – Ron Beyer Jul 7 '16 at 17:30
  • $\begingroup$ Ron, AATD simulator they note on brochure $\endgroup$ – Jet Toki Jul 7 '16 at 17:35
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    $\begingroup$ Voting NOT to close, because while the answers have overlap, the questions are quite distinct. "What is 4+4" is not the same question as "what is 4+4+4" nor as "what is 16/2" even though there are common elements to the answers, or the same answer to two entirelt different questions. Related, yes. Duplicate, no. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 7 '16 at 22:55
  • $\begingroup$ I would be very, VERY reluctant to spend a dime there unless the local FSDO can tell you that this is legit. The Air Force uses simulators in its pilot training, but not to NEARLY that extent. Sims are good for teaching things like instrument flying & navigation, but awful for basic Private Pilot flying. I'd stronly question if this is a viable curriculum for ANYBODY to go from 0 hours to a successful Private Pilot checkride. Seems so far off the mark, I'd be VERY cautious of gross ineptitude there, and/or a scam. Be very, very cautious! $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 7 '16 at 23:00
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First, the new rules you're - probably - thinking about are for an instrument rating, not a private pilot certificate. So, that means that your question is essentially this: how much sim time can be credited towards a part 141 private pilot certificate?

Assuming that your son is doing ASEL (airplane single engine land), then the requirements are in 14 CFR 141 Appendix B. You can use a sim for 15% or 20% of "the total flight training hour requirements of the approved course, or of this section [of part 141], whichever is less", depending on the capabilities of the simulator:

(2) Training in a full flight simulator that meets the requirements of §141.41(a) may be credited for a maximum of 20 percent of the total flight training hour requirements of the approved course, or of this section, whichever is less.

(3) Training in a flight training device that meets the requirements of §141.41(a) may be credited for a maximum of 15 percent of the total flight training hour requirements of the approved course, or of this section, whichever is less.

A part 141 airplane private pilot course must have a minimum of 35 flight hours training (a school can require more hours, but it can't require less than 35), therefore sim time can be credited for either 5.25 hours (15%) or 7 hours (20%). I don't see any way to reconcile those numbers with the ones you gave, although if your son is doing part of a much longer study course that includes instrument, commercial or ATP training then it could theoretically be a result of how his school organizes training time. That seems very unlikely to me, though.

As for your concern about lowering the package price, that's exactly why simulators are used in training (among other reasons) and there's nothing inherently wrong with using sim time instead of flight time for training. Just ask an airline pilot! But it has to be within what the FAA allows, so I can only suggest that you ask his school to put their claim in writing with references to both the FARs and their FAA-approved training program documentation. If they still make the claim, then forward all the docs to the local FSDO and ask for their confirmation.

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  • $\begingroup$ Thanks for the lucid response. This is for my son's initial Private Pilots course only. The outfit is a small FBO. The sales lady cited Part 141(d) which I can't find and then later Part 141.55 which doesn't take about this matter. $\endgroup$ – Jet Toki Jul 7 '16 at 18:02
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    $\begingroup$ @JetToki You're welcome. 141(d) might be 141 Appendix D, which is for commercial pilot requirements, but that doesn't seem to be relevant here. Honestly, your numbers seem so unlikely that there's probably a misunderstanding somewhere. For example, is someone confusing "ground time" and "sim time"? Part 141 requires 35 hours of ground school too. I would look into it carefully before escalating anything with them. $\endgroup$ – Pondlife Jul 7 '16 at 18:08
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    $\begingroup$ @JetToki Their curriculum is so good that they can move the sim instruction up from 1/4 or the program, to nearly 2/3 of it? IF this works & is approved, tested, and legal, it's a techtonic shift in flying training. Otherwise, it's a scheme to sell lots of simulator & instructor time, and the student won't be prepared (or eligible) for the checkride at the end of it -- he'll end up having to buy the flying hours somewhere anyway. Looks incredibly suspicious to me. A misunderstanding, maybe, but I'm skeptical it's even that innocent. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 7 '16 at 23:08
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    $\begingroup$ One final thought: even if it is approved & legal, I wouldn't pay for it without talking to guys who've had a successful checkride after having had only that level of actual flying training. Don't pay to be a guinea pig for an unproven radical new approach to training. Lots of concepts just take TIME in the actual airplane to wrap your head around, and these numbers look way, way too low to give a decent chance of success to most people. $\endgroup$ – Ralph J Jul 7 '16 at 23:13
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    $\begingroup$ @JetToki you might want to take a look at RedBird SkyPort as a point of comparison: redbirdskyport.com/flight-school/private-pilot-course I'm not sure how many hours they require, but from what I've heard they have really figured out the simulator integration with private pilot training (they make "affordable" full-motion GA simulators). I think they are the "gold standard" when it comes to using sims with private pilot curriculum. $\endgroup$ – Canuk Jul 19 '16 at 6:59

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