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Author Topic: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?  (Read 3889 times)

Offline airupthere

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Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« on: February 10, 2017, 05:21:04 PM »
I'm curious - how many people sell access to their sim? Is there a market?
Randy

Offline jackpilot

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #1 on: February 10, 2017, 05:40:32 PM »
There are commercial places who do, many of them, so there is a market.

If you would do it as an individual, you would have to pay for commercial licences for your avionics, which cost about 10 times what you paid as an individual ,and even P3D would cost you much more....and you "should" declare your revenues from it as an income. + the fact that you might be liable for God knows what risk to your "customers"... Many many reasons to deter the practice ...lol





Jack

Offline Bob Reed

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #2 on: February 10, 2017, 07:54:32 PM »
Keep in mind, most of the software you are using, regardless of the brand or flavor, have a "commercial" side and you would need to contact each one and make sure you do not step outside of your license.

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #3 on: February 10, 2017, 10:00:03 PM »
Commercial licencing for Prosim and P3D is up around AUD$20,000, public liability insurance about AUD$2000/year. Sceneries for example - a single commercial licence for an ORBX airport is about AUD$600. Then you have to keep fixing your sim after novices break it! Food for thought!!
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Offline tennyson

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #4 on: February 11, 2017, 04:27:24 AM »
....And all the time guys are doing it regardless.
It is ruining our hobby, as revenues from the software keep this industry alive.

I have been very vocal bout this to all the simbuilders I know.
No matter what the cost, Commercial licensing is there for a reason and those who disregard the hard work of the software manufacturers are not doing us any favours.

If you want to make money from this hobby, pay the price, simple as that!

Frank

Offline Ed

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #5 on: February 11, 2017, 08:45:08 AM »
+1 Frank
Ed
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Offline airupthere

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #6 on: February 11, 2017, 10:07:07 AM »
Thanks for the input guys! I'm not too afraid of the costs, because it just means you have to charge more to your customer. It's the market rate. I have rental property and I hear a lot of the same arguments. getting calls late at night because stuff is broken, dealing with bad tenants.. surely there is some of that, but the rewards/benefits out weigh the risks/costs.

The real question, is there a market? Are there pilots in training who need access to a sim for practicing flows prior to their check ride? Prior to a check ride could you get $200/hr for someone to brush up?

Randy

Offline bernard S

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #7 on: February 11, 2017, 11:40:01 AM »
I will chime in here ..you want to use your sim for professional trying as I understand it .. so this being the case forget it .unless you have the boeing flight data collimated displays and a tonne of other stuff that the average home builder does not even consider ..just those x2  items mentioned going to cost near on 2m you could essy be out of pocket more and thats without your fees to the FAA per month..and staff costs ..there's a reason why simularors cost millions (new) what most do here is immulate the simulator not simulate the aircraft it's that simple and there are huge differences .. however all that aside you could sell the experience to the general public..for play play as there is no professional  pilot added value ..  :2cw: flows are flows procedures are procedures once learnt.. they are learnt.... plus you need pro software for out the window  a cots program does not cut it  .. I dont think there much more add valve I can add to this topic.. but good luck with venture

Offline FredK

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #8 on: February 11, 2017, 02:34:58 PM »
And just to keep beating the beat-up dead horse...

There are a number of professional flight training schools around the country that do have very sophisticated and certified simulators...for example, Flight Safety International.  The airlines have their own simulators for training and recertification or rely on other larger airlines.

For the casual recreationalist it would be best to go as simple as possible.  For example, do you really need to model all the systems in the overhead?  Just have the overhead panels and a bunch of indicator lights that light up and do nothing else.  That reduces the initial outlay expense and maintenance burden.  You really need to decide which way to go...you really can't cater to both markets (professional and recreationalist).

And Randy I think we discussed this before...you really need to build or get yourself a basic cockpit simulator to appreciate what it is all about before you jump into the water.  Home built simulators...even those delivered as "turn-key".... are delicate, finicky, and require a detailed knowledge of a lot of subject matter to keep them running.  You will need someone on call to do all that.

Fred K
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Online Aerosim Solutions

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #9 on: February 12, 2017, 06:57:42 PM »
Another thing - My 737 sim is just about "as real as it gets" and I have had it assessed by a CASA (FAA) inspector. It could never achieve a 737 type rating but it qualifies as an instrument trainer if I pay the annual inspection fees. Pilots here in Australia can log 50% of their time spent in synthetic trainers as log book instrument time but only if the instructor is qualified with an instructor rating. The list of hurdles to becoming commercial is a long list so it is definitely not for me!!

Cheers Gwyn
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Offline navymustang

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #10 on: February 12, 2017, 08:06:18 PM »
There have been many good points brought out for this topic. But first I have to say thanks to Frank for talking about processional license and supporting our developers.

One of the training topics mentioned was just cockpit refresher training. This is the best market to go after, as it does not require FAA approval since the pilot would not be logging time.  It would be most beneficial in those scenarios where the pilot simply wans to practice by him/her self.

But your ability to charge $200 / hour may be over priced since this is coming out of their own budget and not being paid for by the airline.

I have three Southwest pilots that live in my neighborhood, I have asked all three if there was an interest and they all said no.

The other aspect is entertainment and Sam should speak to this one.  I for one, watch professional pilots in my sims every day wreck havoc with the controls and every month something breaks. ANd that is with real flight hardware in many cases. The flight hardware we typical use could never stand up to this kind of abuse.

Also note - you would need to have a "fully" functional cockpit with motorized TQ and more.
Building a full scale 737-800 AATD for home use. Majority of hardware is from Sismo Solutions, software is Prosim under P3D.
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Offline airupthere

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #11 on: February 12, 2017, 09:55:22 PM »
Thanks Jim! All good feedback!

I'm generally hard headed, so it's hard for me to heed the advice. But Jim, your info regarding the pilots in your neighborhood!! Boom that's what I really wanted to hear. Market feedback. 

I'm only just getting started, still building the overhead. I'll post another thread with my overhead build progress. Im doing this for like 80% because I want to, and only 20% that I actually believe there's a viable business (if I'm really honest with myself).

I've had the distinct pleasure of actually getting in a level d AES simulator.. two separate 737-800, a 767, and an ERJ 135.. all amazing! I definitely know what I'm up against, and don't even remotely believe I can replicate a multi-million dollar simulator.

Offline airupthere

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #12 on: February 12, 2017, 10:01:35 PM »
And I meant CAE not AES.

Offline bernard S

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #13 on: February 13, 2017, 08:29:02 AM »
oh i just can not help myself ..lol... here we go I understand what you are trying to achieve randy ..which is basically how can I get some money back on what I have spent ?... my sim is a tad more advanced than most as I use just about everything out of the avioincs Bay etc..everything in my deck is real and I have collimated displays... etc... your have got to get it through your head as hard as it is that you are going up a very long and very expensive road.. to start with everything has to be fit feel form and function... this means your overhead you mentioned is now has to be redone.. so everything has to be real that being said what software yiu using .. even if you get professional license for your flightware.. yiu can not qualify it .. you need flight dynamics packages from the manufacturer.. plus control loading .. collimated displays ..how are you going to address ambient lighting etc however let's go down the road of play play... the general public license have no no idea about the internals they are going to wreck things ...the best you can aim for is a familiarization trainer ..basically a Sexy paper tiger


Offline Sam Llorca

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #14 on: February 13, 2017, 11:12:15 AM »
There have been many good points brought out for this topic. But first I have to say thanks to Frank for talking about processional license and supporting our developers.

One of the training topics mentioned was just cockpit refresher training. This is the best market to go after, as it does not require FAA approval since the pilot would not be logging time.  It would be most beneficial in those scenarios where the pilot simply wans to practice by him/her self.

But your ability to charge $200 / hour may be over priced since this is coming out of their own budget and not being paid for by the airline.

I have three Southwest pilots that live in my neighborhood, I have asked all three if there was an interest and they all said no.

The other aspect is entertainment and Sam should speak to this one.  I for one, watch professional pilots in my sims every day wreck havoc with the controls and every month something breaks. ANd that is with real flight hardware in many cases. The flight hardware we typical use could never stand up to this kind of abuse.

Also note - you would need to have a "fully" functional cockpit with motorized TQ and more.

Here is  :2cw:  There is no way you can get any returns on your investments after is all done, even with the commercial licenses and all (highly recommended in respect tothe developers), the hardware provided from most suppliers are not durable enough to withstand the abuse of the customers, pilots and non pilots, I personally don't recommend it! plus one customer a week if you are lucky, totally not worth it, I keep on doing it because I don't treat it as a business, If a get a customer fine, if I don't is fine too because I don't depend on it for my living expenses.
Hope this information helps!
Best regards,
Sam


Offline jfuenmayor

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #15 on: February 13, 2017, 01:01:32 PM »

Hi all:
What you all have said is so true, particularly with regards to the flimsiness of most of the hardware we use. I had a real Level D FS instructor, and pilot, fly mine, and on the first turn on an EFIS rotary, the knob was on his fingers.
I just laughed at the matter and re positioned the knob. Fortunately, the rotary did not break.

I believe that our toys are that, very expensive , but toys nevertheless. They do keep you current on instrument procedures though, and us simmers happy, but that is it.

The time i got on a 737-800 Level D Sim, I heard it ran just about 11 million $US. That was a ball park figure, the real price we may never know. And they do break too. They run on UNIX computers and they require permanent maintenance. Not cheap!!.


Offline XOrionFE

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #16 on: February 13, 2017, 01:40:31 PM »
I too had once thought about going down the path of making a business out of it and I did some market research.   I think the number one thing I realized after figuring out the only option was really as an entertainment business (think virtual golf), is that most people that would potentially be a customer would not care in the least about all the sophistication of the systems in a 737.   In fact, most would want to jump in and take off right away....do a little flying around and land (if not have a burning desire to fly under the Golden Gate Bridge or something).   If you are going to cater to that crowd then building a simulation center may have some merit for entertainment but you need to be thinking "arcade" type flying.    Dumbed down simple cockpit(s) that someone can jump in quickly and fly.    And like others have already stated, the hardware needs to be built like a tank to stand up to the abuse.   Even then it will require a lot of maintenance.     In the US I think the average person wanting this type of entertainment would probably be willing to spend no more than $50 for a half hour to an hour in the sim.     You would need a lot of sims to make any real money not to mention being able to keep them booked.

In short, I gave up and will echo others.....there is no market for this.

Scott

Offline airupthere

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #17 on: February 13, 2017, 04:43:37 PM »
 :'( :'(

not gonna lie.. this all sounds like bad news..
:o

Offline sagrada737

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #18 on: February 13, 2017, 05:48:18 PM »
Hey Randy,

The comments and feedback thus far is right on!   We spoke of all this at last year's WorldFlight, but I understand that passion for something dies hard - even against the advise of those that have been down the dusty path. 

I would say that if your desire is to make money as a business, it may be close to impossible to make a profit.   As others have pointed out, the average customer does not understand how delicate some of the parts are on the typical 737 Sim.   Maintenance would eat you alive on such a system.   Also, these Sims are complex systems, and are at times a bit "temperamental".  Anyone who has built such a Sim setup will tell you that some days things simply refuse to work correctly, which likewise simply means that you must spend time to correct the problem.   This poses a major problem when you have a customer waiting.

Perhaps a much better business model would be to have a less complex aircraft Sim setup, or even a Formula 1 race car Sim.  These type of Sims will have less cockpit complexity and afford more rugged user controls systems that will hold up better to customer abuse.

Frankly, this forum may not be the best place for answers.   Do some direct market research and visit businesses that are currently making money with a similar business model.   If you can't find anyone doing what you have in mind, it may well be that it is a poor business idea/strategy.   As has been stated ad nauseum, there are more red flags to what you are wanting to do vs. the potential opportunity to make it a successful business.

Here's a challenge to you...   Build up a complex Sim to understand first hand the detail that must go into this kind of product.   Visit some of the turn-key Sim manufactures and learn just how these Sims tick and what it takes to keep them flying.   Do some serious market research and come back to us and report where the opportunity is and how big the market may be, and how it may be possible to "break the code" on turning a profit with such a business model.  Make an effort to pitch your idea to some Venture funding folks - that will sober one up!   If the reaction is positive, who knows...   Maybe you might find additional investors here on the forum. 

That said, don't take this as pouring cold water on your ideas.  Such things and one's inner passion are what dreams are made of.  Looking forward to your Grand Opening!

Mike

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Offline navymustang

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #19 on: February 14, 2017, 09:11:41 AM »
Just a quick note back for Bernard and others - FAA qualification is a tricky topic. You could actually qualify a sim as an Advanced Aviation Training Device (AATD). I am currently doing that with the CRJ-700 I built for a university professional pilot program. But it is hell !!!!!
Let me give you an example - there is NO DEFINITIVE GUIDE (capital letters on purpose) that defines what the examiner will adhere to when they come to see the sim and "approve it". Let me give you an example, An AATD is to be representative of a class of airplane, in my case a medium business/passenger jet. It doesn't say it has to be "exactly" like it, just very close. But in my case, the FAA examiner has indicated that since my PFD speed tape does not have the exact stall markings as the real CRJ-700, he is not approving until we fix that. OK, sounds simple, but that is extremely costly when you are talking about custom software sitting on top of commercial off the shelf stuff, trying to get the two speed tapes to work together. I would go into detail, but that is just an example of what you might face when getting your sim approved. But please know, I am extremely confident that those of us running P3D and Prosim, in most cases would not face these kind of issues. So there is some good news  :)
Building a full scale 737-800 AATD for home use. Majority of hardware is from Sismo Solutions, software is Prosim under P3D.
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Offline bernard S

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #20 on: February 14, 2017, 09:55:53 AM »
at Jim    I know all about the FAA and the Feds not sure who cleaned my wisdom teeth more effectively by way of rectal examination ..it's a process 😆😆😆😆

Offline blueskydriver

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #21 on: February 14, 2017, 11:18:35 AM »
Hey Randy,

Here is what you need to do, avoid FAA certification stuff and let the real pilots go to an airline sim. Then, you jump in a plane, train or automobile and take a trip to the Mall of America in Minneapolis. Checkout the A.C.E.S. F16 sims located there. Here are the websites:

https://www.mallofamerica.com/shopping/directory/aces

http://www.flyaces.com

Mind you, the sims are for entertainment, but as you can see there is a market for this; albeit, a very small one. Still, it's all about appeal, placement and location...in this case, F16's oh yeah, inside a huge well known shopping mall, located in a large city like Minneapolis. So, for you, being in Lexington is a good start which covers location, now you need the right aircraft (forget about buses with wings), like the F16, F22, F35 or A10 (very appealing, plus they're in the news a lot these days, so free advertising in a sense), and the right placement (like a mall or airport complex).

Oh, you need to switch over to DCS software as the wanna-be fighter jocks have really improved it a lot and it works with fighters. Sure, you could use FSX, P3D or Xplane, but don't expect the flight systems to work like DCS does...

Finally, I know your post was a simple, routinely asked, question that does not have a simple answer. However, if you have the will, there is a way too find out the answer(s) and achieve your goal. My first biggest suggested answer to anyone who is interested in getting into this hobby for whatever reason, is go visit people who have sims. Be sure too visit a good spectrum of the people, because there are guys who must have every button, switch, annunciator working like the real thing and they have tons of money to throw at it. Then, there are the guys who are on a shoestring budget and they might have everything working or they might not, but as long as it "simulates" to any degree, it's a simulator too them.

If you decide to drive up to the Mall of America, you would drive past 3 members of this website that likes having visitors (Scott, Rob and myself). In fact, just about everyone who has a sim is more than likely willing too have you visit, because that is the great thing about aviation...it transcends sharing.

Best Regards,

John

« Last Edit: February 14, 2017, 11:24:01 AM by blueskydriver »
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Offline Mach7

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #22 on: February 20, 2017, 09:17:39 AM »
@airupthere

I will chime in with my 2 cents.

There is a huge amount of learning that can be derived from a home built simulator, even if it does not fly exactly like the 'real thing' or have all the bells and whistles as the factory made product.

Most likely the Southwest Pilots you mentioned did not show an interest  due to the cost. (Pilots don't like paying for things they can get for free).

I have been flying professionally for over 35 years. When our company removed the BAe146 from our fleet, (saddest day of my life), and replaced it with the CRJ. I built a cockpit trainer out of paper and wood and added some  dummy switches and an old computer. The computer ran an FMS training CD with which we could program trips and actually fly the simulation while going through our calls and procedures.

Myself and my sim partner spend hours and hours and hours in that thing going over drills, approaches, standard call outs and FMS programming six months in advance of our actual course. The benefits payed huge dividends.

If you are a true Professional, this is what you do. You prepare yourself before hand whether it is an initial course or just a recurrent refresher.

It was not so long ago that companies, (including my own), would have paper trainers sitting in one of the classrooms so Pilots could brush up on SOPs....in fact, in our company, it was mandatory to spend 4 hours in the bamboo trainer with an instructor before heading for sim to make sure the actual simulator time was not wasted going over memory items and procedures such as start faults, rejected takeoffs,  V1 cuts, etc etc.

These trainers were so in demand that the company employed me to build one for them at a cost of 8k back in '91. They felt the issues cleared up in these sessions saved them thousands and thousands of dollars in real simulator time and failures were at an all time low.

Unfortunately companies don't do this anymore...which I feel is a big loss.

To this day I still take the tarp off the CRJ sim to run through anything I feel a bit rusty on.

I would forget about FAA certification. The direction you want to go in is not to be recognized  in a legal manner by the feds for credit towards a rating, but rather a tool that can be used outside the realm of regulations to hone drills and build confidence for Pilots going for training.

Heck, just knowing where the switches are is half the battle sometimes!!


Offline airupthere

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #23 on: February 20, 2017, 05:19:55 PM »
Thanks James!! My hunch has been, if i were a 737 pilot (either current, or getting a type rating) I would love access to something that gave me the opportunity to practice. I would myself pay a couple hundred an hour.. I mean, why not? If you're getting a type, you're already spending thousands upon thousands.. I've watch my uncle get lots of types, and the amount of energy that goes into getting that, unbelievable. I also found a statistic that says 30% of "first-time-type" pilots, fail the check ride.

Here's my assumptions:
- decent enough number of pilots need more training due to failure rates
- there's the full sim which is I think $1k's + / hr.
- airlines are looking to cut costs

It seems almost like a no brainer, like there would a huge demand.. I get it that FAA process to be certified, so the pilots can count hours, might be prohibitive. I can imagine dealing with the bureaucrats is a major pain in the %*#!! But it seems like the experience of a low-cost sim would pay huge dividends.

I'm cautiously moving forward. I've got a lot to do on just building my overhead, so I'm not in any big rush to go drop $30k on a whim.. There's many days when I think I'm just crazy for trying this at all, the last thing I need to do is go all manic and get really stupid.. So I'm plucking ahead.. journey of a thousand miles, begins with a single step.

Randy

Offline Trevor Hale

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Re: Does anyone sell access to their sim as a business?
« Reply #24 on: February 20, 2017, 05:34:10 PM »
Hi Randy


It's an awesome idea, though many of us have had this before. The biggest hurdle is getting the airlines to do something outside of the box. For instance my brother just got his B73C certification. And they use the attached for a procedural trainer. Companies like CAE already have their foot in the door with the electronic paper trainers. Like I posted.


Yes we have visuals. But companies like CAE have a leg up already.


I do wish you success, just tred cautiously.


Trev
Trevor Hale

Owner
http://www.cockpitbuilders.com

Director of Operations
Worldflight Team USA
http://www.worldflightusa.com

 

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