A flight simulator is a virtual reality system (software and hardware) capable of simulating the environment of a flying machine for a pilot, which allows the user to experience piloting a specific type of aircraft. It is regarded as one of the first successful applications of virtual reality software, largely used for pilot training and recreational/gaming. These software programs can also be used to research aircraft characteristics, and control the handling characteristics, design and development of aircraft. The main purpose of a flight simulator is to help the pilot achieve, test and maintain proficiency in aircraft handling knowledge, and gain experience. Flight simulators are also extensively used to learn how to react in emergency situations. Military flight simulators educate military personnel about critical situations such as loss of electronics, hydraulic failures, bad weather, and incidents such as tire blowouts on landing that they may be susceptible to during missions.
Increasing adoption of virtual training to ensure safety, growing need to train new pilots across the globe, need for cost-cutting in pilot training, and rising demand for unmanned military vehicles are some of the factors driving the growth of the flight simulation market.
Aviation accidents can have far-reaching effects and often unforeseen consequences. The need for virtual training is rising to ensure safety, and enhance skill competency and situational awareness.
The need for aviation-trained pilots is increasing as airlines continue to expand the global reach of their networks, as well as the size of their fleets. World Flight simulators are more efficient on providing training for take-off, approach and landing than for other flying tasks.
Real-time training involves high cost incurred from fuel, maintenance, and wear and tear due to continuous flying, which is one of the key factors generating demand for flight simulator programs in the market. Flight simulation software programs are essential for unmanned aerial vehicle training systems. Unmanned aerial vehicles have been widely used in both military and civilian fields in recent years. With the development of unmanned aerial vehicles, high-quality training for ground operators, which can be accomplished through fidelity training systems to simulate the flying environment in the sky, is necessary and urgent.
The flight simulator market is expected to grow at a CAGR of 3.2% over the forecast period, 2019–2026.
The sim market can be segmented by type, flight type, and application.
On the basis of type, the flight simulator market can be segmented into Full Flight Simulator (FFS), Full Mission Simulator (FMS), Flight Training Devices (FTD), and Fixed Base Simulator (FBS). Among these, the Full Flight Simulator (FFS) segment is projected to grow at the highest rate, due to the low purchase cost and efficient operations associated with these simulators.
On the basis of flight type, the market can be segmented into fixed wing, rotary wing, and unmanned aircraft. The unmanned aircraft segment is expected to grow at the highest CAGR, with the growing prominence of unmanned aircraft in defense as well as commercial sectors.
On the basis of application, the flight simulator market can be segmented into commercial and military. The military segment is expected to dominate the flight simulator market throughout the forecast period, due to the increasing use of flight simulators in armed force training.
North America has emerged as a key market for flight simulators due to the rising demand of new pilots in military and commercial aircraft simulator. Increasing investments for technological improvements in existing simulations to cater to a wider range of aircraft have also been driving market growth in the region. The use of virtual airplane simulators for pilot training is accepted and regulated by aviation authorities. The U.S. Federal Aviation Administration, for example, maintains a National Simulator Program1, which plays the dual roles of applying regulations and seeking improvements in flight simulation, and the use of simulation has more recently been extended to the training of pilots of unmanned aircraft. North America is expected to witness significant growth, owing to early technology adoption by manufacturers and consumers. Major players such as L-3 Communications Holdings, Inc., AE Inc., The Boeing Company (U.S.) and Rockwell Collins, Inc. are also contributing to the market growth in North America.
Europe is a prominent region for the flight simulator market with growing awareness regarding pilot training. In Europe, safety in civilian aviation is regulated by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA), which also controls the maintenance of the qualification level as well as the proper formation for all users in contact with the simulator. The full flight helicopter simulator market is expected to witness healthy growth in Germany as the German manufacturer, Reiser Simulation and Training has started the construction of first level D device, an Airbus Helicopters H145 simulator.
In Asia Pacific, operator inclination to outsource maintenance, repair, and overhaul activities to third-party providers is expected to upsurge the need for qualified technicians and subsequently, drive the demand for flight simulators. Asia-Pacific needs to particularly address issues regarding standardization and safety within training facilities, barriers related to cost and opportunity, the untapped female market, and advancements within the industry.
Prominent carriers such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, and Qatar in the Middle East are making significant investments in the flight simulator market, which is expected to drive market growth in the region to an extent.
This report offers key insights pertaining to the flight simulator market with emphasis on recent developments across geographies and development strategies adopted by prominent market participants. The following sections have specifically been covered in the report.