Fidelity of simulators for training of pilots has to be judged from the final end of the training goal. This conclusion can be derived from the overview of Hays & Singer (1989), which has been published a considerable time ago. Nevertheless, an ongoing debate questions the need of simulator features like motion for the training of pilots – partly without giving attention to the training goals at hand. Especially in the area of threat and error management requirements for the simulators differ markedly from operational recurrence training. For experienced ATPL- pilots we can assume that a high fidelity visual simulation and a proper representation of the avionics and a high fidelity simulation of the flight dynamics might well be sufficient to refresh rare standard situations. From a psychological point of view we would predict that the well elaborated cognitive model of professional pilots with respect to aircraft, its dynamics and the situation will allow to simulate the situations without motion. Pilots are able to add the not simulated aspects from their highly elaborated mental model. On the other hand a broad range of situations in the area of human performance limitations are beyond the experience of pilots or trainees. A proper simulation of the aircraft performance and the perceptions and sensations is necessary to improve performance by simulator training to cope with situations beyond the standard environment. Especially for successful disorientation recovery training it may be necessary to provide the correct physical sensations enable the pilot to learn the correctly timed and executed actions to re-establish safe flight parameters. Perceptual illusions of the vestibular system and problems in vestibular-optic coordination are core elements in the development of a multitude of spatial disorientation phenomena (Bles, 1998; Cheung, 2004; Previc and Ercoline, 2004). A couple of reports have been published, which show convincingly that disorientation recovery training with a motion base simulator improves performance in jet pilots (Cheung, 2004; Kallus & Tropper, 2004) as well as in helicopter pilots (Hays & Singer, 1989) and in pilots of small VFR aircraft (Kallus, Tropper & Boucsein, 2009). These studies all used simulators, which are at least capable to rotate in one axis. Disorientation due to sensory illusion is not only caused by vestibular illusion (like gyro spin or leans, for details see Previc & Ercoline, 2004 or Kallus & Tropper, 2004). Some accidents in the area of spatial disorientation occur primarily due to visual illusions (like the black hole approach or the runway width/slope illusion). For VFR pilots, flight into IMC is one of the most problematic and often fatal causes of disorientation. Unintended flight into IMC due to gradually worsening weather conditions seems also to be a primarily visual problem. The more visually based disorientation situations might not require motion cues during the training, as motion does not seem to play a predominant role in the development of the state of disorientation. An experimental study was designed to evaluate the role of motion cues for different disorientation recovery exercises in the simulator.
(2009). Psychological Fidelity of Simulator Human Performance Limitation Training. 2009 International Symposium on Aviation Psychology, 379-385.