Emirates branded A380 entertainment simulator set within the busy Dubai Mall.
A fun A380 simulator in the busy Dubai Mall, firmly aimed at the entertainment sector of the market.
Set in a prominent position within the huge Dubai Mall, the Emirates simulator is eye catching and looks impressive from the outside. The fixed base simulator is housed within a large A380 front shell, containing the flight deck and two pilot seats. The visual system is limited to approximately 100 degrees of lateral visibility with no view possible from the side windows. Scenery is considered basic and we assume uses stock P3D software, which only animates the bare minimum in terms of airport configuration and major landmarks. The simulator is primarily composed for flying around Dubai or London.
The flight controls are also what we consider to be at a basic level of realism. For example, the behaviour of the side stick is at odds with airbus flight control logic which other sims we have visited replicate accurately. Once you have banked the aircraft, a lateral pressure is required on the sidestick to maintain the bank angle and turn. This is not the case in real Airbus aircraft. For a customer who seeks a quick, hands on, fun flight and has no experience, this will not be an issue, but for a more seasoned simulation aviator we would advise this as a little frustrating.
Once seated in the flight deck, there are a few controls which are functional. These include all of what we consider the primary flight controls; the parking brake, thrust levers, side stick, flap lever, landing gear lever, speed brake and foot brakes. Additionally, some of the switches on the overhead panel are simulated. All other switches and buttons are painted on or stickers. The primary flight displays, flight directors and navigation displays are functional, along with the two centre system displays. Real aircraft systems such as autopilot or autothrust are not functional, but the navigation displays are able to show some pre-programed routes.
Simulator and aircraft system setup is done via the instructors’ tablet. It has some ability to program and simulate basic failures such as an engine failure. However, with such limited controls and system functionality, the ability to deal with failures and more interesting simulated scenarios is limited. Pre-recorded ATC chatter played in the background for realism and some artificial aircraft traffic can be added for further realism.
The Emirates simulator is located on the second floor of the large and busy Dubai Mall, and is an impressive sight. It is not specifically signed, but there are many electronic information points around the mall where it is possible to check your location and obtain directions. As you might imagine, access to the Dubai Mall is simple and plentiful, whether by car or by metro. There is ample parking. The Mall has a huge amount of other attractions and shopping inside, so whilst the simulator may not be the primary attraction for a specific trip, it can be worth being part of a longer visit to the Mall.
A small reception area is roped off at the rear of the simulator with a reception desk and three economy airliner seats – these are arranged away from the back of the simulator and set perpendicular to the flight deck, rendering them unsuitable for spectating. The area just behind the pilots is not enclosed so spectators can stand directly behind and watch – so too can anyone passing by in the Mall, no pressure!
The simulator is very much geared towards bookings being made online, and there is an online calendar so you can select the date and time for either 15/30/60 minute slots. At AED 350 (about £75) for 30 minutes and AED 650 (about £140) for 60 minutes this puts the Emirates simulator in the price range of fully functional and much more advanced fixed based simulators. For a fun, entertainment simulator, this venue is quite expensive.
There is no briefing area and sessions begin in the simulator itself. There isn’t any time allocated before your timed session for a briefing, and we noted that bookings are arranged directly after one another with no flex. We imagine this is due to demand as it is a prominent and busy venue, but in the case of any technical issues, there is no ability to allow sessions to overrun or faults fixed before the next session starts.
When considering customers with reduced mobility or special needs, the venue is ideally located and very accessible. Shopping mall functionality helps considerably with plenty of lifts and escalators, and no steps or access issues to the venue. However, once inside the simulator, the natural reduced space means access to the seats and flight deck may be an issue.
Unlike our other simulator reviews, we decided this venue was best sampled as a normal customer, and we booked and paid for a standard 30 minute experience. After checking in, there was a short discussion about whether we had any simulator experience, and then it was straight in with no pre-flight briefing, discussion of what we would like to do, or orientation with the simulator and controls. Of course, one could ask if there is something specific you’d like to sample, but we would expect a better level of engagement and customer service.
The simulator is Emirates branded and this is relevant as they are by far the world’s largest operator of A380s and very much the local airline. However, apart from the logos and some Emirates branded merchandise, the Emirates presence isn’t really felt – don’t expect the excellent customer service and flying experience the airline itself provides and don’t expect any Emirates pilots to be doing the instructing! In fact the instructors are not real pilots at all, but based on the level this simulator is pitched at this isn’t be necessary.
A fun A380 simulator aimed at those who want to try a simulator for the first time and enjoy a simple but fun flying experience. Sadly, it is let down by the customer service and instruction, limited simulator functionality and we feel it is over priced for what is offered. This simulator is very much at the entertainment end of the market and really should be viewed as somewhere to have a little fun rather than a serious simulator experience.