DCS Trainers…are they missing a trick?

Following on from my post about missing World War Two simming and highlighting a preference to DCS World there is something that I do want to pick up regarding DCS.

Trainers.

What are they in DCS for? Who can you actually train in them? We have just had the addition of the Yak-52, but what is it’s purpose?

DCS-Yak-52-WIP-07
The new Yak-52 for DCS World

Let me start by saying that I like the trainers, I have the L-39 and the Hawk. We all know about the problems that have plagued the Hawk, but it can still be enjoyable to fly and it would be good to use as an advanced trainer. The L-39 is superb, it feels like it has some inertial and some weight behind it. It’s enjoyable to fly and, if you take the ZA version, has a reasonable loadout for COIN ops.

The greatest thing about the L-39 is the multi-crew ability. In theory you can use the L-39 in multiplayer to train someone up in different procedures and routines to get people to a certain standard; the added bonus is the blind flying hood controlled from the rear seat. This gives the ability to train the student pilot in instrument flying; with no cheating!

My query is this, how often is the L-39 used as an actual trainer? I can’t imagine that it is very often. I think, in this instance, ED are missing a trick. EAF are always looking to take on new recruits and take them through a progression of stages in training. We all accept that this is a game and there is no risk to life or equipment, but sometimes starting someone out in a Harrier can be quite intimidating as you’re presented with MFDs, a full HUD, an array of switches and dials; all of this for a complete beginner can be mind boggling.

Screen_140819_124845
DCS Hawk – a tarnished reputation but hopefully a capable trainer when complete

In contrast the L-39 is relatively straight-forward in appearance, with the bonus of the attributes listed above, so what’s the problem? Well, to me, it is the fact that a new pilot has to buy a module that they may then never fly again once they have completed their training. This is an expensive option that is not available to everyone. I’d really like to see the ability to have players that do not own the module join an active aircraft in the front seat in multiplayer servers. I’d like to be able to take a new pilot up and show them what a proper circuit should look like,  go through aircraft handling, weapons training and responding to system malfunctions and emergencies.

At the moment this is not possible. Another alternative that I have considered is whether there is a way to get a squad to register with ED so that a version of a corporate licence can be bought, along the lines of Microsoft Office or Windows for companies, so that you were buying, for example, 6 concurrent installs so that one purchase can be used by a number of student pilots and for refresher training for others. I posted this on the ED forums once, but it was ruled out. I think the first proposition, above, would probably be a more workable solution. The first proposition could almost make the L-39 a ‘gateway drug’ for DCS, I know the Su-25T and the TF-51 are free with DCS World, but they don’t have the second seat and the training capabilities. The Hawk and L-39 both have a level of capability that means it can be flown in certain circumstances, but there either has to be limited or no air defences. Both can carry IR guided missiles, with either the AIM-9, Hawk, and the R-60 for the L-39. Both carry cannon and have an assortment of rockets and bombs so they don’t need to just be for training, but it’s unusual to see them online.

It would be great to be able to support new pilots and players of DCS World properly and ensure a good standard of airmanship was reached.

3 Comments Add yours

  1. Maybe time-bound rentals of the modules?
    25, or 50 hours use of the module for, say $5, with the option to buy for a $5 discount at the end of the rental period.

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    1. 79vRAF says:

      I hadn’t thought of that, they can do it with film rentals, maybe the theory could work just as well for a flight sim!

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  2. Jack Wall says:

    I’d challenge whether accessibility trumps necessity (for trainers) in the flight sim experience?

    As you noted, there is effectively no cost to pushing through the challenges and learning to flying the Harrier right off the bat (crash after crash and all) .

    Likely though it is, that truly learning the asset fully will be rare, it’s even more likely that this ‘learning’ stops once a certain level of capability is achieved.

    I’m not convinced trainer air frames are a “lead in” for customers ….. folks purchase with their hearts, not their heads …. and want to get into the cockpit of the dream aircraft now is the purchasing goal after-all.

    In terms of business, I’d wager, the ED marketing plan is based on reaching a threshold of units sold rather than any deeper or more involved cultivation. (and I count myself among those holding out hope for ED to cultivate in their WW2 offerings 🙂 )

    S!

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