Exploring the adoption of desktop simulators in pilot training: An ethnographic approach


  • Elvira Marques School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
  • Guido Carim Junior School of Engineering and Built Environment, Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia
  • Chris Campbell Sub Dean (Learning Technology) and Faculty of Science and Health Business Partner, Division of Learning and Teaching, Charles Sturt University
  • Gui Lohmann Griffith Institute for Tourism (GIFT), Griffith University, Brisbane, Australia & Tourism Economics and Management Centre (NEAT), University of São Paulo, Brazil




pilot training, aviation education, flight simulator training, desktop simulator


Aviation has been using flight simulators for pilot training for a long time. Desktop simulators are a more cost-effective, efficient and accessible alternative to an expensive high-cost, high-fidelity flight training devices. Despite the benefits, desktop simulators are rarely seen in flight schools and flight instructors hardly recommended them for early stages of training. Therefore, this study investigated the perception of flight instructors about the usefulness of desktop simulators in flight training and the ways they can be used in the early stages the training. An ethnographic study was conducted in a flight school in Australia via observation and in-depth interviews. Despite the documented benefits of using desktop simulators, there seems to be a hesitancy by flight instructors to encourage students to use these devices because students: build bad habits if they misinterpret what they have been taught and practise without supervision, tend not to trim the aircraft, apply too much force on the controls, and look down at the instruments very often and do not look out. We conclude that this negative perception about the technology can be holding back further progress in improving the quality of flight training and preventing students from embracing the technology to enhance their learning.






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