Tuesday 14 January 2020

Simulator Adventures Airbus A320 Flight Simulator Review (Press Visit)

Last November we were invited to review the Airbus A320 Flight Simulator at Simulator Adventures in Trafford Park. The simulator has been designed and built by two brothers, Alan and Stewart Russell, who also happen to have been professional Airbus A320 pilots.

Simulator Adventures are working on introducing a Motion System to the simulator this Spring, but we reviewed without it and you still feel like you are moving, even when you aren't at all. It's an amazing and truly immersive experience.

When you arrive you are well looked after. There is excellent seating in the waiting room (masses of legroom).... and the best toilet door I've seen besides those at LEGOLAND.

Airbus aircraft seats in waiting room

Simulator Adventures has a toilet door with an image of an aeroplane toilet door over it

The Simulator itself is through a 'Cockpit Door' (naturally) and is an impressively large black box on stilts, around 3ft in the air.

Simulator Adventures Airbus flight Simulatorfrom outside looks like black box

Some of the hydraulics for movement were already in place when we visited, although still in testing and modification, but they are on track to be able to add this option sometime during Spring 2020.

Hydraulic rods underneath Airbus Flight Simulator in Manchester UK

Inside is bigger than you'd expect and you are able to 'passenger' in fold out chairs behind the Pilot and Co-Pilot. This was a massive surprise to us, we'd told the kids they'd probably have to sit in the waiting room. It meant we could all stay in the cockpit for our entire session. Usually only 4 people are allowed in total, and it was a little cramped, but the boys squeezed up.

Airbus Flight Simulator in Manchester UK big enough for passengers

The guys behind Simulator Adventures really know their stuff. They wanted to create the most accurate and realistic flight simulator around, and asked pilot friends and colleagues to test it. The layout therefore is that of an actual Airbus A320.

inside the Airbus A320 cockpit Manchester flight simulator

I've always wondered what all those consoles and buttons were for, now I think I can decipher about 1/5th of them! There are mostly labelled, and my partner understood far more than I did, but you can really appreciate the learning and concentration you need to be in charge of a real plane.

Airbus A320 Flight Simulator overhead controls console

Airbus A320 Flight Simulator control console artificial horizon

Around the plane are all of the cockpit 'windows', which show a pretty accurate HD map of where you are, and you can absolutely spot all of the towns, cities and landmarks along your route. It's fantastic. We chose Manchester to Birmingham, but there are hundreds of flights to choose from.

Cockpit layout pilots console Airbus A320

My partner has a huge interest in large planes and this was a dream come true for him. so it would have been unfair to take the lead. As it happened, and because it was a demonstration. Alan our instructor pilot was able to let anyone over 5ft tall have a go. Bad news for our 9yo, who is too short to reach the pedals and see over the dashboard console. As a general rule, children over 12 are okay to use the simulator.

Cockpit flight instructions from the pilot Airbus A320

Our 11 year old had the time of his life. It was an amazing experience and after watching him I wasn't leaving without a try myself. The good news is none of us actually crashed. There may have been a little grass mowing and sideways parking though...

11 year old flying Airbus A320 flight simulator

I can't comment on accuracy, but pilots can, and the response has been exactly what Simulator Adventures hoped for. General consensus is that they have created an incredibly authentic Airbus A320 flight simulator, and far better than those which pilots use for training. All I can tell you is that it was brilliant, and a lot trickier than they make it look.

Video shows what the simulator is like far better than photos and words do, so here are the best bits. I've cropped everything massively - my partner flew the entire trip from Manchester to Birmingham, my 11 year old flew the return leg in some amazing weather, and then I had a go at what I think is the most important part of flying - the landing.

It has to be one of the best things I've ever tried. Absolutely loads of fun, we learnt so much it was unbelievable, and I know if ever we find ourselves on a pilotless plane, my partner is definitely the one we push into the cockpit to take over...

Manchester UK Flight Simulator Review pilots controls

Simulator Adventures is in Trafford Park, Manchester and they have a host of different options for booking flights. A 30 minute Simulator Experience currently costs £99, which includes your tuition and direction from an actual genuine pilot. If you want to take a longer flight then 60 minutes costs £150, and if you are serious about learning to be a pilot, a 10 hour block booking is currently £1,050.

An Airbus A320 simulated flight might not be one of the least expensive experience gifts you can buy, but it's also such an amazing experience that you'll never forget it, and crikey, when would anyone ever really get the chance to find out what it's like to fly an Airbus!! 

Find out more and book on the Simulator Adventures website, but Alan and Stewart are absolutely lovely and more than happy to discuss any queries or questions via email info@SimulatorAdventures.com or phone 0161 706 0103. 

Our experience at Simulator Adventures was free for the purpose of review. 

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