TOM’s Cockpit’s space: Can flight simulators teach you to steal a Q400?

Can flight simulators teach you to steal a Q400? The dabate was lunched by various newspapers after the incident of the 10th of August

After the very sad incident of the Horizon’s Q400 stolen by a ground mechanic, many newspapers started to launch a particular debate: can you learn how to fly only using a flight simulator?

The answer may be quite simple, but there are some facts that need to be considered prior to say something about what, sadly, happened a few days ago.

First of all a Q400 is not a Cessna 172, it’s a really complex and hard plane, not only to fly, but also to start up.
It’s obvious that a technician have access to manuals and documents, but if you don’t know nothing about that plane, you’d need hours even to start the engines.
So yes, I think he had access to a Q400 add-on, at least to learn how the cockpit is set up.

That doesn’t make the difference though.
Let’s say that the guy knew the basics of the plane, how did he take off from one of the most controlled airport in the world?
C’mon, we’re talking about Seattle-Tacoma airport, not the small countryside airfield!
If there is not a system to prevent stolen planes to take off without any clearance, then we are in danger because sometimes airports are really close to metropolis and you just don’t have enough time for a scramble (interception by fighter jets).

Anyway, let’s say he was lucky enough to take-off withuot control, how did he manage to do acrobatics with such a plane? Again, we are discussing about an animal of more than 20 metres and its aerodinamic is pretty ridicoulous compared to fighters or acrobatic planes. A serious simulator wouldn’t even let you complete such a maneuver without breaking a wing and crash as I tried in X-Plane 11.

Here comes the centre of the question.
Believe me or not, the mechanic had enough flights to learn how to fly in the real life. Otherwise it would have been impossible to fly successfully such a beast!
I mean, the FBI officers are some of the best detectives possible, I hope they will find out that a simple simulator cannot teach to fly like that.

My advice is that we shouldn’t demonize flight simulators.
They are useful to know many aspect that an aspiring pilot should know even before begin the real training. And they are games.

No airline or school will give you a job or a licence just because you fly really well on your personal computer (even if you’d hope so, I think), and personally, the last person that I would see in the left seat in case of heavy emergency is a flight simmer.

After all, if you can learn to fly a plane properly, then why airlines don’t board in their planes the best flight simmers to send them into the cockpit if the pilots are in danger?
It’s simple, because to fly a plane you need to study hard. And saying “flight simulators teach people to fly” it’s an insult to pilots that spent a lot of money, time and sacrificed themselves to get a licence.

I wouldn’t even try to send my CV as simmer to real airlines.

Last but not least, you’re free to believe that the lonely guy who stoled the Q400 last week learnt all on his X-Plane/P3D copy and I hope he had a powerful computer to get satisfying performances.
As long as you’re free to believe that people who play Euro Truck Simulator are ready to become truckers or terrorists, people who play racing games can beat Sebastian Vettel (I don’t want to read “Lewis Hamilton” or “Mercedes” in the comments at all 🙂 ) on the real tracks and even pro FIFA players will win the Ballon d’or next year.

If you believe that, I’ll just stop spending time in saying that the earth is not flat and vaccines are useful.

So, it’s your turn now! Tell me what do you think about this crazy debate in the comments!

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