Full Flight Simulators – In 20 Years’ the Number Will Double


After years of sluggish growth the global market for civil aviation simulation training is finally showing the encouraging signs of recovery. Currently, there are about 900 full-flight simulators in the world, owned by airline training centres, independent training organizations and aircraft manufacturers. According to the recent BBC News interview with the Airbus and Ascend representatives, the number is set to more than double over the next couple of decades to meet the demand for more than half a million new pilots, as well as to support pilots in active service.

Full-flight simulators are vital in supporting the forecasted aviation growth. According to the popular Boeing forecast, some 517,000 new pilots will need to be trained globally in the next 20 years’ time. Given that each new simulator costs about $25m to buy and a further $1m per year to operate, the market will be worth a whopping $25bn, perhaps even more, BBC News estimates.

The rapidly growing regions, such as Asia Pacific, the Middle East, China and Latin America naturally account for a great number of the needed new simulators and largely contribute to the growth of the entire aviation market. 3 out of 4 recent CAE’s full-flight simulators (FFS) orders go to the regions mentioned above. In the middle of June 2012 the CAE announced receiving a total of $65 million worth of orders for 4 full-flight simulators. One order was placed by an unidentified European customer, the other by the Aviation Industry Corporation of China (AVIC), the next ones by Singapore Airlines, and a joint venture owned by the CAE and China Southern Airlines.

There are several ways to acquire a full-flight simulator – airlines may get it from the aircraft manufacturers after purchasing a new aircraft for a very good rate, purchase a newly manufactured model or buy used full-flight simulators from the operators or companies specialized in selling simulators.

In June 2012 a new business branch SimHelp.com was launched by Avia Solutions Group to provide full-flight simulators repair and maintenance services. In addition to maintaining and repairing the operated simulators, the start-up will also offer assistance in purchasing new and used full-flight simulators.

According to Gediminas Talacka from SimHelp.com, a new simulator can be purchased for around $8-$15m, inclusive of relocation and installation. A used simulator can be purchased for $3-$5m, depending on the simulated aircraft type, its manufacturing year and condition.

Crucial in simulating extreme flight conditions, e.g. broken chassis, a failed engine or a hail storm, full-flight simulators are more and more demanded by growing aviation industry.

In the latest report Visiongain has determined that the value of the global civil aviation flight training and simulation market in 2012 will reach $3.2bn.  

Sources: bbc.co.uk, winnipegfreepress.com, simhelp.com, flightglobal.com, visiongain.com