A unique full motion B737 simulator in Dubai, catering for both professional pilot and entertainment markets.
Unlike many flight simulators in the market, Dream Aero offers a full motion experience in their Boeing 737-800 and the venue setting in the middle of Dubai Festival City Mall is certainly very striking.
Once inside, the simulator is fully functional and very realistic – the only thing missing are the circuit breakers panels. The panels and instruments are all very realistic and are of a high standard of fit and realism. When operating the flight controls, we felt the rudder pedals were a little on the loose side and the flight control yoke a little over sensitive. To Dream Aero’s credit, they acknowledged our findings and were upfront about their plans to improve these factors in the very near future.
When considering the full motion aspect of the simulator we flew in different flight configurations and a variety of weather phenomena and from this experience we can confirm that events such as turbulence feel very authentic. The motion is a fantastic asset to the simulator and we would normally only expect to see full motion on expensive professional airline simulators.
The 220 degree wrap around visual system consists of three high mounted projectors. The visual picture from the pilots’ seat is not collimated. Collimation is an extremely expensive modification and once again, only usually found on professional flight training simulators. Dream Aero have plans to upgrade their visual system with new projectors, so the already very good visuals already are destined to become even better. Pre-recorded ATC chatter is played in the background to add to the level of realism, along with the simulation of other aircraft traffic visually, which can be added in.
The simulator operates X-plane software, which is well known for offering very realistic flight dynamics. Dream Aero are able to offer a huge range of variables for simulator sessions including weather, time of day and various system failures. In particular, the variety and quantity of simulated system failures is very comprehensive and more than you would usually expect to see in a simulator of this standard. Additionally, X-plane software is well known for offering a high level of scenery coverage straight out of the box, which means wherever the sim may be flying the visual picture ‘out of the window’ should be realistic.
Dream Aero is located on the ground floor within the large Dubai Festival City Mall which is near the Dubai Creek and Dubai International Airport. Unlike other simulators we have visited in shopping malls this one is situated in the middle of a central atrium and the prominent raised simulator and reception area form an impressive sight.
In terms of accessibility, Dubai Festival City Mall has plentiful parking and has good transport links. Additionally, the simulator benefits from being associated with a large mall and all the shopping, food and drink options that it contains.
A small reception desk and a seating area is located behind the simulator, where customers can wait. This area has a live video feed so spectators can watch and enjoy action from inside the simulator. A positive attribute we like seeing is a manned reception so there is always someone to welcome and help, especially when the instructors are busy – something that Dream Aero does well. There aren’t any dedicated briefing rooms as this process is completed in the seating area (the surrounding mall atmosphere wasn’t too distracting) or inside the simulator if time permits.
Generally, Dream Aero advise that customers need to be eight years or older, and we think that is sensible as younger children may not get as much out of the experience. The simulator has space for three people in addition to the instructor, which should cater for most circumstances; is also possible to watch a live video feed on the television in the seating area outside the simulator. If a recording of the simulator experience is desired, a go-pro video can be purchased for a small charge of AED 79 on a flash memory stuck. In any case, customers are encouraged to bring their own cameras and take as many photos and videos as they wish.
When considering customers with special needs or reduced mobility, Dream Aero will do their upmost to try and accommodate everyone. The mall is very accessible, but as it is necessary for a raised full motion simulator to have steps these could prove a challenge for some. However, because of the venue location it is easy for any prospective customers to come and have a look first to see whether this would be an issue.
Gift certificates may be purchased via the website and over the phone, and bookings can be made the same way. An additional advantage of being located in a mall is its accessibility and walk-in enquires and bookings are very welcome.
We consider the prices to be very reasonable for a full motion simulator of this quality, and Dream Aero also offer reduced rates for weekdays which are typically less busy. There are a number of promotions and discounts available to customers. The simulator attracts and caters for a mixture of customers including local Emiratis, expat residents, and also tourists. Options exist to fly more in-depth experiences and profiles with real world procedures backed up with instructors who are commercial pilots. With the nearby DXB airport and multiple local large airlines, the simulator attracts a significant amount of custom from professional aviators such as current pilots preparing for assessments and sim checks – Dream Aero boasts an impressive success rate for those who visit.
Each customer is given a briefing and a chance to discuss what they would like to do. Dream Aero are clear that these briefings are in addition to the time in the simulator, so if an hour is purchased, then the customer will be flying the simulator for the full hour – this is very much a positive in our view and not something all simulators offer. Dream Aero also ensure that time is available between bookings to allow for flexibility and overruns on the rare occasions there are problems.
Dream Aero are keen on asking for feedback on the day immediately after the session to ensure that they can learn directly from their customers’ experiences and continually improve what they offer. This shows a responsible approach to the simulation business and is very much to their credit.
Dream Aero in Dubai has been established since 2017, and is part of a much larger business with a similar simulator in Washington DC, and more based in Russia. Dream Aero benefits from the support that a larger network can provide, with regular visits from the technical and maintenance staff in Russia to update and improve the simulator.
Their uniformed instructors are all commercial pilots which helps create authentic and accurate experiences for their customers, and allows them to offer their simulators to the professional aviation market for those working in commercial aviation.
We were also impressed by the warm and open welcome we received during our visit. This goes a long way towards helping make customers feel welcome and relaxed for the session. With so many simulators already in existence and more opening each month, we find customer service to be as an important factor as the simulator hardware itself, and Dream Aero certainly rates highly on both counts.
We always welcome updates from simulator businesses we have visited and reviewed. Dream Aero have been very busy since our visit in February 2020, only a few weeks ago, and have updated us with the following changes made to their simulators: