November 10, 2022
By: Stephen Pradarelli
If you’re like most student pilots or even certificated pilots, you have a lot of aviation-related apps on your phone or other portable electronic devices.
These might include:
But to get the most out of any app, it’s important to know its full capabilities--and how to customize it to meet your needs.
ARSim by PlaneEnglish is a powerful radio communication training tool that can take you from beginner to pro if you fully understand its features and work toward specific and measurable goals.
This article provides tips on how to hit the ground running with ARSim and leverage the power under its hood so you can become proficient on your aircraft’s radio faster and learn to communicate with ATC and other air traffic more confidently sooner.
In fact, as the best aviation radio simulator on the market, PlaneEnglish has been contracted by the U.S. Air Force to provide training to its pilots using the ARSim software!
Here are two standout features that make ARSim a ridiculously effective radio communication training tool.
First, at its core is the program’s robust interactive system.
This lets you communicate--in real-time--with an air traffic control simulator in nearly every possible scenario you’d face in the real world as a private or instrument-rated pilot.
Using state-of-the-art voice recognition, ARSim gives you immediate feedback on how you communicate with ATC or announce your intentions at non-towered airports.
After building foundational skills, you can continue progressing with more and more complex situations or drill down on areas where you need additional practice.
The PlaneEnglish ARSim is loaded with features you don’t want to miss. Fortunately, there are a number of tools provided to help orient you and guide your training.
Here is a simple step-by-step guide on where to start.
As the name suggests, jump right in by reading the QuickStart Guide, which shows you how to download the app, create your account, and purchase full access if you like what you’ve experienced in the trial period.
To customize ARSim to suit your particular learning needs and situation (for instance, VFR vs. IFR training), visit the User Guide.
Then you can review the Lesson Navigation Guide, a handy schematic showing you how to find your way through ARSim’s features and screen layout.
There’s also a short video that shows you the app’s features for both Android and iOS devices.
Start by just clicking on random modules for fun, maybe beginning with the basics like phraseology for numbers (“tree” for 3, and “one-zero thousand for” 10,000, for example) or vocabulary (the phonetic alphabet, runway numbers, etc.).
Studies show that when learning is fun and engaging, students are more likely to store what they learn deep in their long-term memory.
Part of the enjoyment of using the PlaneEnglish ARSim is being able to practice radio calls without anyone else watching, listening, or judging your performance (and without the Hobbs meter pulling money out of your bank account).
If you make a mistake, no big deal! Just start the module over, or jump to something else.
Learning aviation communication is a bit like learning a new language.
Even if it is in English, some of the phrasing and how you format questions and responses are unique to aviation--and this can be challenging, especially in the real world when you’re already under some pressure to fly the airplane safely.
Now that you feel like you can find your way around ARSim, it’s time to work through the modules more methodically, ideally starting from the beginning until you’re consistently scoring well (90 percent or higher on average).
You’ll have the chance to:
request flight following,
and contact approach.
The goal at this point is to feel confident enough in the basics that you don’t stumble too much when you move on to the next step: scenario-based training.
One of ARSim’s best features can be found under the FLY tab, where depending on your subscription level, you’ll be able to access either VFR or IFR scenarios associated with actual airports.
ARSim offers more than 300 airports from which to choose, most of them in the U.S., but many in Australia, Canada, and the U.K.
Or you can ask ARSim to pick the airports for you.
The list of airports also indicates the designated airspace for the airport. For example, if your training is primarily in uncontrolled airspace, you might start with a Class E airport. Then switch it up a bit, so you feel comfortable in all kinds of airspace. Once you’ve picked your takeoff airport and your destination, and customized your itinerary for different types of departures, en-route scenarios, approaches, etc., ARSim generates a detailed itinerary and steps you through the entire flight, including:
and contacting approach
An exciting new feature of ARSim is TRAINER Mode, which assembles the deep content of the simulator into an extensive, progressive, multi-level training environment. [Related: Why Dedicated Coms Training is Important].
This provides an even more methodical way to build up your skills and equip you to manage communications confidently in increasingly complex situations.
Once you’ve completed the lessons in one module, you’ll conduct a “stage check” that generates a scenario that requires you to apply all the skills you’ve learned so far. Passing it successfully unlocks the next set of levels.
Obviously, the goal of using ARSim is to be able to communicate well in an actual airplane cockpit.
As you build on your skills using the simulator, talk to your instructor about the lessons you’ve covered and, if he or she is agreeable, have them test you while you’re on the ground by playing the role of ATC or other traffic in the pattern.
Another great tool is listening to other pilots interact with ATC through the LiveATC Website or app, or any number of YouTube videos (such as Fly With The Guys Talking to ATC playlist) that capture sometimes funny, sometimes harrowing, but always educational radio communications--typically when they don’t go according to plan.
Finally, carry some of the confidence you build up using ARSim along with you on your training flights. While you might not get every phrase exactly right (and this can happen to seasoned pilots as well), you’re more ready than you think!
If you want to get even more in-depth in your radio communication training, PlaneEnglish has created “The Easy Route to Aviation Radio Proficiency: Training Manual with Activities Using PlaneEnglish Aviation Radio Simulator."
While it can be used as a stand-alone education tool apart from the simulator, they really do work best together.
The manual provides:
The 83-page manual is available for $19.95 (PDF) or $34.99 (hard copy plus the PDF) through the PlaneEnglish store.
Practice makes perfect, and with the new Trainer mode, the PlaneEnglish ARSim makes it even easier to follow a structured process for building, reinforcing, and deploying your skills as a confident, competent, and safe pilot.
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PlaneEnglish created this blog to provide aspiring and current pilots a resource for all things related to aviation radio communication.
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