Test Criteria

PC TEST PILOT's primary role is to conduct objective testing of the accuracy of the simulator's Aerodynamics and  Flight Dynamics in addition to a subjective analysis of how realistic the simulator actually "feels"  and whether it provides a true sensation of flying within the limits of a personal computer based simulator

Being an exact science, aerodynamic analysis of a simulator’s realism can be achieved by comparing the phases of flight such as - straight and level, turning, climbing / descending and stalling at varying G levels with those predicted mathematically – Deviation from predicted values would detract from the realism and possibly educational value of a simulator.  Simulators will only be tested within the approved flight envelope of the full size aircraft - For example an airline simulator will not be assessed on the inverted flight performance.

We have made every attempt to avoid the use of technical jargon and complex mathematical calculations to provide a plain language review of the simulator.  For those interested in technical details the full flight test report is available for each review.

The Rating System

After undergoing thorough flight testing the simulators will be ranked according to the following ratings

GOLD AWARD - "Only given to the very best simulators - In addition to all the requirements of the "Excellent" rating - A Gold Award signifies the simulator as having additional outstanding features and capabilities, along with a flight model of such high fidelity that it allows demonstration of advanced aerodynamic concepts that are present in real aircraft.  The delineation between the Excellent and the Gold Award rating is primarily based on the attention to detail present in the software."

To give an example - A simulator might be awarded an "Excellent" rating if it has an outstanding flight model and accurately simulates the functioning of the Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) to such a degree as to provide a useful learning tool for real pilots,  However if the attention to detail is such that the ADF is also affected by thunderstorms in a realistic fashion it would be worthy of the Gold Award as this provides an addtional, though perhaps subtle, educational experience. 

EXCELLENT - "To achieve this rating the simulator must combine rock solid aerodynamics, flight models and handling with faithful reproduction of the aircraft operating environment, communications and avionics.  Highly recommended by PC TEST PILOT STAFF as being among the best available today, this rating will only be given to simulators with a proven ability to provide an educational benefit to real pilots."

VERY GOOD - "This rating has been recently added to further delineate between the "Excellent" and "Good" ratings - A "Very Good" rating indicates the simulator has accurate flight models in addition to highly realistic handling in all areas of flight"

GOOD - "This rating indicates the simulator has reasonably good flight models with some errors - It must offer realistic handling in most areas of flight - A simulator achieving this rating would give a user a realistic impression of what it feels like to fly an aircraft."

AVERAGE - "This flight simulator does a fair job of simulating an aircraft - however has moderate flaws in the flight and / or instrumentation modelling.  Whilst suitable as an entertainment product it does not qualify as a true "Simulator."

POOR - "Our objective is not to criticise any product - A Simulator will receive a "poor" rating if the flight models have serious errors or inaccuracies.  And if the basic aerodynamic modelling is not consistent with true aerodynamic theory or newtonian physics - It should be noted however that some products which achieve this rating may in fact be very good entertainment products or arcade style games - If you are not concerned about realistic flight modelling and are just after some "fun", don't let a Poor rating from PC TEST PILOT put you off trying it."

All Reviews conducted by PC TEST PILOT staff will be in the following format:


Name of Simulator -
Manufacturer -
Aircraft Modelled -
Recommended System -
- Poor - Average - Good - Gold Award
System used for the Review - Eg - Pentium 233 MMX with Righteous 3dfx Card - Thrustmaster F22 Joystick, WCS Throttle and RCS Rudder Pedals

This will include a brief overview of the Simulator - including its design objective - the ease of installation and the quality of any included manual.


The Flight simulator will be flown through a series of air exercises to accurately assess aerodynamic modelling based on Air Speed, Angle of Bank, Turn Rates and Radius of turn.  Climb, Cruise and Descent Performance.


Assessing the inertia levels of the aircraft -   How it responds during high and low speed flight - The effect of unbalanced or asymmetric flight if applicable and the Stalling and Spinning characteristics will be fully analysed in detail.


An assessment by the reviewing pilot as to how realistic the simulator "feels".   Does it give a true sensation of flying, and whether any simulated air traffic control enhances this sensation.    Particular attention will be given to Roll and Pitch response, Stalls and Spinning, Aerobatics, Formation flying and Circuits including Normal, Short Field and Flapless Take Offs and Landings.

If applicable to the simulator, flight under the Instrument Flight Rules (IFR) will be reviewed.


Assessing the accuracy of the Aircraft Avionics in terms of readability - performance and the ability to provide educational benefit to real pilots.


A brief description of the graphic levels of the sim including a number of relevant screen shots.


Describe any additional features that were particularly good or poor about the Simulator

DISCLAIMER - Using any flight simulation software does not replace professional pilot training.  The responsibility to remain current according to local Civil Aviation Regulations rests solely with the pilot.  The final authority for anyone undertaking flying training is always your Flight Instructor. 

Copyright PC TEST PILOT - 1999