(or ‘The Things I Learnt at School’)

By Geoff Newman


‘Try to stay in the middle of the air.
Do not go near the edges of it.
The edges of the air can be
recognized by the appearance
of ground, buildings, sea, and trees.
It is much more difficult to fly there.”

With thanks to the following friends and colleagues who have helped me to refine this appreciation of the world of the helicopter simulator instructor.

Gordon Woolley, OBE, AFC, FRAeS

Niall Robertson

Sean Cronin


‘Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember.
Involve me and I learn.’

Benjamin Franklin

I have written this booklet because:

  1. I wanted to communicate with those who are interested in becoming Synthetic Flight Instructors and show them what it is like to work in this exciting and rapidly developing part of the helicopter industry.
  2. I feel the need to reach out to colleagues, particularly those teaching on the AW139, in what is a lonely profession. Most if not all my work is done alone like nearly all the teachers in schools and colleges, universities and training schools across the world. This booklet may encourage others to burst into print to enhance the exchange of thoughts and ideas. I think they call it ’communication’. It sounds simple but we somehow contrive to make it difficult.
  3. Those indirectly involved with delivering simulator training – operators, regulators, designers, test pilots, and customer representatives like OGP need to have an appreciation of the issues that affect the quality and effectiveness of the training on offer.
  4. The future for simulator training is looking incredibly bright and exciting with the prospect of new technologies bringing role training, and other capabilities to the fore.
  5. Soon the SFI will be the most important member of the helicopter flight training team along with his simulator examiner colleagues so it is vital the industry understands this and makes suitable provision to ensure that the training and development of SFI’s is up to the task of delivering a high quality workforce.
  6. It is important that those managing and regulating the Approved Training Organisations are aware that we, at the sharp end of the business, need to help create an understanding of what constitutes ‘best practice’ in the world of simulator training for both licensing and non-licensing courses and then help to implement it across the industry.
  7. As a fan and proponent of the concept of ‘Competence Based Training (also called Evidence Based Training) I believe we have outgrown the concept of ‘compliance’ based or ‘syllabus based’ training. I have explained that in more detail in a dedicated chapter.

My hope is that this booklet will add to the conversation in a positive way and that colleagues will be motivated to share their views and experiences. I hope this can be done in an atmosphere that recognises that both praise and criticism are positive contributors to the debate.

Rather than follow the path of conventional publishing I have decided to make each chapter in turn available on my website. First, to read online and then to make it available as a ‘PDF download. Each month the online chapter will be replaced and another chapter added to the download. Feedback is encouraged so please write your comments on the blog and I will try to respond accordingly.