Do pilots have to go through regular testing?

Yes. Commercial airline pilots are subject to strict recurrent training required by their relevant aviation authority. This keeps them in regular practice should they ever have to deal with an emergency.

Luckily, emergency situations are quite rare in real life so this training is carried out in a flight simulator usually over a two day period where scenarios are played out in real time. These scenarios can involve anything from engine fires to the discovery of a bomb on board and pilots go through this process every 6 months until they retire.

So what exactly is a flight simulator?

787 Simulator - Exterior View K65021Well from the outside a modern flight simulator looks basically like a big box (about 10-15ft high) which sits up on 6 hydraulic pistons. These pistons move the simulator about six axes and can replicate all kinds of motion such as acceleration, turning, turbulence and even the subtle bumps of going over runway lights.

On the inside however, it looks exactly the same as the flight deck of the plane it is designed to simulate, with every switch, lever and piece of wiring just as it is on the real aircraft. A large 180 degree high-definition screen simulates the outside world and a control panel behind the pilots’ seats allows a trainer to select from an array of failures to test their skills in an emergency.

Flight simulators are an essential tool for airlines in keeping their pilots’ trained to the best of their ability.

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