The Different Types of Simulators: BATD, AATD, FFS, and FTD

For training at every level, from green-horned general aviation students to established pilots making the shift to a new model of aircraft, flight simulators offer an excellent way of learning new aviation skills. Though many variations exist, all aircraft training devices can be organized into three major categories according to the FAA. These categories are full flight simulators (FFS), flight training devices (FTD), and aviation training devices (ATD). Each of these aircraft simulators vary by their sophistication and design, as well as what certifications or ranking they can offer.

The first of these categories, full flight simulators, are the more capable and expensive training devices of the bunch, and they are required to have both motion and visual capabilities. Generally, this means that a full flight simulator will have a near-perfect replica of the flight deck, as well as realistic motion controls. FFSs are subcategorized into four levels consisting of letters A through D, with level D being the most sophisticated by having the greatest number of requirements, including six degrees of motion and realistic cockpit sounds. Each level of FFS is evaluated against specific data coming from airplane flight tests and other examinations. This ensures that the FFS’s aerodynamics, flight controls, and ground handling characteristics closely match those of a specific make, model, and series of aircraft. As such, pilots in training can often use a FFS to earn a specific type-rating without flying the actual aircraft. For this reason, among others, FAA-approved training centers often use FFSs to train professional pilots for type ratings, as well as to deliver the recurrency training required by regulation and insurance companies.

The next category is flight training devices, or FTDs, which are devices designed to represent a specific aircraft configuration and may even include an enclosed cockpit with realistic visuals. These devices are not always motion capable, but they are advanced enough to provide adequate training in preparation for commercial and airline transport pilot certificates. Consequently, FTDs are very popular with aviation-oriented colleges and universities. In addition, the airline industry often uses FTDs to train new hires, provide upgrades in rank, aid in the transition from one model of an aircraft to another, and for recurrency training.

Aviation training devices, or ATDs, are a common option for GA flight training and can be subcategorized into two types: the Basic ATD (BATD) and the Advanced ATD (AATD). BATDs generally have more enhanced hardware and software features that the FAA has included as part of its requirements for these devices to lend certain training and proficiency “credits.” These credits are limited to private pilot certification, as well as instrument rating and currency requirements. Altogether, all the displays and controls in the BATD must reflect the movement of an actual aircraft so that the various controls and displays respond similarly to how the physical aircraft would respond. As complex as these devices need to be, there is a large availability of low-cost, high-end computer options that are capable of providing the processing power needed to meet these demands.

As the name suggests, Advanced ATDs carry higher standards, along with design criteria that call for a more realistic aircraft look-and-feel. Beyond just meeting all the criteria expected of BATDs, AATDs must also incorporate additional features and systems that improve on it. Among these provisions are incorporating ergonomics that represent a category and class of an aircraft flight deck, a GPS system with a moving map display, a two-axis autopilot, an independent visual system capable of rendering realistic VFR and IFR conditions, a separate instructor station, and the ability to simulate all emergency procedures that have a checklist in the POH or flight manual.

When you are in need of top-quality components for aircraft and flight simulators, you can rely on Aviation Store Online for all that you require. As a premium online distributor of aircraft parts, we provide customers with access to a multitude of new, used, obsolete, and hard-to-find components provided with unbeatable lead times. To start the procurement process today, simply send us an RFQ form with details about your situation and parts needs, and expect to receive a comparative quote for your comparisons in just 15 minutes or less!


October 12, 2022

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