FAA rule change eases limits on sim training

 - November 24, 2009, 6:39 AM

Responding to concerns from pilots and training providers, among others, the FAA on October 20 corrected its earlier final rule that would have significantly increased requirements and restrictions on using a flight simulator for training and testing for additional pilot ratings. The revised final rule became effective the same day.

The correction ensures that qualified flight-training candidates can complete their training in level-C and level-D simulators without restrictions. The changes allow a level-C flight simulator to be used for all training and testing for an additional pilot rating if the applicant meets certain criteria.

Pilots who do not meet any of the prerequisites may still complete all training and testing for an additional rating in a flight simulator if they accept the imposition of a 25-hour supervised operating experience (SOE) requirement on their rating. Pilots not wanting an SOE and not meeting the prerequisites must complete a practical test in the aircraft.

After the correction was published in the Federal Register, any pilot meeting one of the following five qualifications may receive an unrestricted rating when using a flight simulator for all training and testing:

  • •hold a type rating in a turbojet airplane of the same class of airplane, and that type rating may not contain an SOE limitation;
  • have 1,000 hours of flight time in two different turbojet airplanes of the same class of airplane;
  • have been appointed by the U.S. armed forces as PIC in a turbojet aircraft of the same class
  • of airplane;
  • have 500 hours of flight time in the same type of airplane; or
  • have logged at least 2,000 hours of flight time, of which 500 hours were in turbine-powered airplanes of the same class of airplane for which the type rating is sought.

The National Air Transportation Association (NATA) said it originally submitted comments questioning the rationale and purpose of the rule changes when they appeared in a 2007 notice of proposed rulemaking. The final rule issued in August did not address these comments.

NATA’s concerns about the final rule focused on the creation of a new FAR Part 61.64 that would consolidate and simplify the rules concerning the use of flight simulators in training and testing for additional pilot ratings. The new Part 61.64 was not intended to make any significant changes to the rules but, as originally published, it would have severely restricted the use of flight simulators in pilot training and testing.

“We are pleased with the FAA’s cooperation and communication in resolving this issue, which would have severely impacted pilot training and training center operation,” said NATA manager of regulatory affairs Michael France. “The FAA staff has taken the time to hear our concerns and address the errors in the final rule before they negatively impacted our industry.”