A well-established flying school at Glasgow airport, with a busy general aviation club atmosphere. They have real airline pilots as club members and instructors, so you can be sure of an authentic airline environment.
Leading Edge’s simulator is in the most part an accurate B737 Next Generation flightdeck, with a projected 180 degree wrap-around visual display system. This is not collimated, and as such, the centre of vision is more aligned with the centre of the flightdeck. However collimation is extremely expensive and is normally found on only the most expensive and professional flight training simulators. The simulator has scenery for most airports that are likely to be visited during an experience. The Glasgow airport scenery and local area was good, but in contrast, we did feel Heathrow was a little sparse and more generic. We always like to look at London Heathrow as it is one of the more demanding airports on the visual system and is familiar to us, allowing a fair comparison between venues. We also looked at simulated weather; rain and snow looked very authentic.
The simulator was easy to fly accurately, with little to no dead band in the flight control yoke. Some switches were missing/loose, which was attributed to rougher use by some customers and high demand, but Allan has an extensive refurbishment plan for the simulator. We could see this was well underway, with great improvements that are imminent – new seat covers, glass for the windows, new switches and most importantly revised rudder pedals. It’s worth bearing in mind that all of these components attract a significant cost and it’s commendable that a simulator owner is willing and in the process of making the upgrades. The simulator as it stands is good, but these tweaks and improvements will make it even better. An intercom system and VATSIM hook-up was also talked about and these are developments we are keen on seeing.
The simulator is located in a small out building and as such space is very limited. It’s incredible that an overhead projection visual system has been so well fitted within the dimension constraints and the actual flight deck fits neatly. Space for spectators though is very limited and access is a short hop from the main flying club building meaning weather and time of day play a factor.
The simulator is located at a popular flying school (Leading Edge Flight Training) at Glasgow Airport and is an integral part of Scotland’s general aviation scene. We like airport locations as it adds to the excitement and realism of the whole experience and immerses the customer in the wider world of aviation. The sounds of large jet airliners arriving and departing can be heard in the simulator and was quite a novelty! We feel the signage could be more prominent for simulator customers, as it wasn’t clear if we were in the correct location for the review. The access road has one sign saying ‘flying club’, and it is not until you arrive at the venue that you see Leading Edge Flight Training branding. However, once arrived, parking is easy and plentiful. If arriving from Glasgow Airport’s main terminal, a taxi or car share app only costs a few pounds and is less than a 10 minute journey.
Once inside there is a cosy lounge area in the reception and a few side rooms. The pre-flight briefing is usually delivered in the simulator itself. We have found this set up often detracts from the hands-on flying time, but Leading Edge say that they bear this in mind and the customer always receives the full purchased flight time. There is plenty of room for spectators at the venue, but as mentioned above, not within the simulator. This is catered for by having a large colour TV in reception with a live feed from the simulator ensuring the experience can still be shared, but from the comfort of a leather sofa and cup of coffee in hand!
When considering customers with special needs or reduced mobility, the venue states they are happy to talk in advance or even host a pre-visit should it be required to assess any requirements and will try their utmost to accommodate everyone. There is a shallow ramp from the car park to the main club building. However, the size and raised setting of the simulator, plus the outside building location where the simulator is housed would be a challenge for someone with reduced mobility. Once inside the simulator, there are some obvious adaptations the business have made with mobility considerations in mind. The seat floor rails have plenty of travel and the flight deck centre console is removable to allow
easier access before being reset in position for the session.
Booking is via the website, email or telephone with the majority of their custom from gift experience voucher sites offering a considerable discount on advertised prices – this is how we would recommend purchasing a session. Flying club member access is prioritised and also heavily discounted, which is a nice touch to reward loyalty. Repeat custom is also a significant part of the simulator’s usage (a good sign as to the popularity of the venue), and again, there are special deals for repeat customers. The simulator is available for use 24 hours a day and people can often be found flying at all times of the night!
We received a pleasant welcome and within minutes we were chatting with instructors and members who were all airline pilots themselves. Allan was busy in the simulator, but when we met him, we were warmly greeted and had a long conversation comparing ideas, talking about the flight training market and some significant and interesting proposals he has to improve the sector. The business has a flight training background and this is evident in how the simulator is integrated into their day-to-day operations. As we’ve mentioned, their instructors are all airline pilots and within their ranks are an airline Base Captain and another senior airline Training Captain. The majority of their business is flight simulation experience customers, but airline preparation is also catered for and this is where the senior airline instructors are very useful. A large number of sessions are donated as charity auction prizes and is a key indicator as to the character of the business.