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Flight simulators give pilots real training

By Xin Dingding  (China Daily)

14:45, May 02, 2012

Pilots in Harbin, in Heilongjiang province, practice skills in a flight simulator, which can simulate bad weather, engine failure and other special situations. (Tan Chao / for China Daily)

China's air force is expanding the use of flight simulation technology to hone fighter pilots' skills and air battle tactics.

One of the earliest institutes to study flight simulation in China, the Flight Simulation Technology Research Institute of the Air Force is now able to develop simulators of the latest fighter jets that China produces, said Xie Donglai, head of the institute.

"Flight simulators are playing a more important role in military training around the world," he said.

The United States was the first to use flight simulators to train pilots. The US air force found that an hour's training in a simulator has an effect equal to that of training in a real fighter jet for 0.5 to 0.9 hours.

China's air force began to train fighter pilots with simulators a decade ago.

So far, the institute alone has given at least 70 simulators to the air force and other units, which have provided 15,000 hours of training since 2002, according to the institute.

"That means huge amounts of training costs were saved," he said. Thanks to simulators, pilots can quickly master flying skills necessary for a certain type of fighter jet.

Guo Lei, director of the institute's simulation training center, said that a number of pilots who flew the first-generation of fighters spent more than 50 days in simulators and made a successful transition to flying third-generation fighters.

Also, the equipment can simulate bad weather, engine failure and other special situations, and teach pilots how to handle them, which training on real fighter jets cannot do, Xie said.

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