Comparison Between Virtual Reality and Physical Flight Simulators for Cockpit Familiarization

Stefan Auer, Hans-Christian Jetter, Harald Reiterer, Jens Gerken

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingsConference contributionpeer-review

7 Citations (Scopus)


Airlines and flying schools use high-end physical flight simulators (PFS) to reduce costs and risks of pilot training. However, such PFS with full-scale cockpits have very high acquisition and operation costs. In contrast, recent consumer-grade and off-the-shelf soft- and hardware can be used to create increasingly realistic virtual reality flight simulators (VRFS) that could potentially serve as cost-efficient and flexible alternatives. We present a user study with 11 participants to determine whether consumer-grade VRFS can supplement or even replace a PFS during cockpit familiarization training (CFT). We compared a full-scale Boeing 737-800NG PFS with a VRFS based on off-the-shelf flight simulator software combined with a consumer-grade head-mounted display and either finger tracking or a handheld controller as input device. Participants performed instrument reading tasks and check procedures from the aircraft’s operating manual. We did not observe statistically significant differences in successful instrument reading tasks, error rates and task completion between PFS and VRFS during CFT. However, we found that VRFS’ Mental Demand, Physical Demand, Effort, task completion times, and levels of simulator sickness were significantly higher and exceeded acceptable levels. We conclude that future consumer-grade VRFS will need to improve soft- and hardware for interacting with simulated switches and reduce simulator sickness before they can serve as PFS alternatives for CFT.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationTagungsband - Mensch und Computer 2021
EditorsBastian Pfleging, Dagmar Kern, Stefan Schneegass
Number of pages15
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-4503-8645-6
Publication statusPublished - 5 Sept 2021
EventMensch und Computer (MuC 2021) - TH Ingolstadt, Ingolstadt, Germany
Duration: 5 Sept 20218 Sept 2021

Publication series

NameACM International Conference Proceeding Series


ConferenceMensch und Computer (MuC 2021)
Abbreviated titleMuC 2021
Internet address


  • Aviation
  • Pilot
  • Flight Simulation
  • Cockpit
  • Training


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