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The global flight simulator market size was valued at USD 4.38 billion in 2022 and is projected to grow from USD 4.89 billion in 2023 to USD 6.99 billion by 2030, exhibiting a CAGR of 5.25% during the forecast period.
A flight simulator is an electrical and mechanical training device that replicates the experience of flying an aircraft. It provides a realistic virtual environment where pilots can practice and develop their aviation skills without the need for an actual aircraft. These devices use advanced technology, such as computer-generated graphics, motion systems, and accurate flight dynamics, to create a highly immersive and interactive training experience.
These simulators are widely used in various aviation industry sectors such as commercial airlines, military training, aviation schools, and research and development. It provides a cost-effective and efficient means of training pilots, reducing reliance on actual flight hours and minimizes risks associated with real-world operations. The rising demand for highly skilled pilots is expected to drive the growth of the global market size from 2023 to 2030.
COVID-19 had a Significant Impact on the Market Due to Decreased Demand for Pilots and Aircraft Maintenance
The COVID-19 pandemic caused a big drop in pilot hiring and training as airlines reduced their operations and laid off pilots. This resulted in fewer pilots being recruited and trained, which led to a significant decrease in the demand for flight simulator and simulator training services. For instance, in June 2022, according to the report by Regional Airline Association, a U.S.-based business association that represents seventeen North American regional airlines, COVID-19 slowed down pilot training and dramatically slowed the issuance of new certificates.
During the pandemic, airlines had financial difficulties, so they postponed non-essential aircraft maintenance and upgrades. Since fewer aircraft were being serviced, the need for simulator-based maintenance training and simulator upgrades decreased. However, as the aviation industry slowly recovers, the demand for pilots and aircraft maintenance is anticipated to increase again during the forecast period. This will result in a higher demand for aircraft simulators and contribute to the growth of the industry after the pandemic.
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Integration of Mixed Reality (MR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR) is a Prominent Market Trend
Technological Advancement is a key trend gaining popularity in the market. Major players in the market are focusing on developing new technologically advanced solutions by integrating Mixed Reality (MR), Virtual Reality (VR), and Augmented Reality (AR). These technologies provide enhanced immersion and realism, which allows pilots to experience a simulated environment with accurate visuals and motion feedback. MR, VR, and AR comprise interactive training scenarios that improve pilot skills and decision-making.
For instance, in April 2023, Advanced Real-Time Tracking (ART), a Germany-based company that specializes in infrared all-in-one hardware, partnered with Vrgineers, a leading cockpit training solutions company, to introduce innovative Mixed Reality (MR) pilot simulation technologies. The two companies are partnered to integrate the XTAL 3 Virtual Reality (VR) headset and SMARTTRACK3/M into a mixed reality pilot training system for future pilot training.
MR, VR, and AR enhance the pilot's situational awareness by overlaying crucial information onto their view. This innovation provides cost-effective training options, minimizing the requirement for total flight hours and minimizing risks. Additionally, the customizable and adaptable nature of MR, VR, and AR technologies allow them to cater to various aircraft models and configurations. Furthermore, strategic partnerships and collaborations, product innovations, and developments are also key trends in the market.
Shortage of Pilots in the Aviation Industry is Expected to Boost the Global Flight Simulator Market Growth
Shortage of pilots in the aviation industry is one of the major issues faced by many airlines and aviation companies worldwide. The shortage is mainly attributed to many pilots getting older and retiring, and enough pilots are not recruited every year. For instance, in June 2022, according to the report by the Regional Airline Association stated that the growing pilot shortage threatens small community air service collapse.
It also stated that nearly half of the currently qualified pilots are reaching mandatory retirement, which poses another threat to the aviation industry. Flight simulators provide a realistic training environment for aspiring pilots. They can learn important skills and gain experience without actually flying a plane. These advanced training systems accurately simulate the flying experience, which allows pilots to practice different situations, emergency procedures, and complex maneuvers in a controlled and cost-effective way. Owing to such advantages, the market is expected to grow over the forecast period.
Rising Demand for Simulators from the Defense Sector is Expected to Propel Market Growth
Simulators provide realistic combat training, which allows military pilots to enhance their skills and simulate various combat scenarios. They replicate the dynamics of aircraft operation, weapon systems, and tactical scenarios, which enables military pilots to develop and refine their combat skills, such as air-to-air engagements, air-to-ground attacks, and precision targeting, in a safe and controlled environment. They offer a cost-effective alternative to actual flight hours, reducing expenses associated with military pilot training.
They provide a safe environment for practicing high-risk maneuvers and emergency procedures. This helps in reducing risks to lives and expensive equipment. Aircraft simulators are also used to simulate a wide range of aircraft types such as fighter jets, transport planes, helicopters, and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs). Furthermore, technological advancements, such as improved visuals and realistic interfaces, have also contributed to the market growth.
High Initial Investments and Regulatory Compliance Are Expected to Hamper the Market Growth
The development and production of flight simulators require a lot of financial investments. The advanced technology, such as realistic visuals, cockpit controls, and other electronic systems used in them are quite expensive. Additionally, simulators need to be updated regularly to meet the changing standards in aviation, which adds to the investment costs. High initial investments also result in higher costs for end-users such as airlines, aviation schools, and defense forces.
Furthermore, simulators are subject to stringent regulatory standards imposed by aviation authorities globally, Compliance with these regulations involves extensive testing, certification, and periodic inspections to ensure the simulators meet safety and performance requirements. Adhering to these regulatory frameworks requires considerable resources and expertise. The complex and time-consuming certification processes can delay the introduction of new simulator models and slow down the growth of the industry.
Owing to Rising Demand for High Skilled Pilots, Full Flight Simulators Segment is Dominating
By type, the market is categorized into Full Flight Simulator (FFS) and Flight Training Devices (FTD). FFS is a type of device that replicates a specific type or a model and series of a specific aircraft cockpit. FFS dominates the market share and is estimated to be the fastest-growing segment during the forecast period due to increased demand for high-skilled pilots.
Flight Training Device (FTD) replicates an aircraft's equipment, panels, instruments, and controls either in an open flight deck area or within a replica of an enclosed aircraft cockpit. The modernization and development of aircraft simulators are anticipated to boost the flight training devices segment.
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UAV Simulator is Anticipated to Command the Market Owing to Growing Demand for Drone Pilots
By platform, the market is divided into fixed wing simulator, rotary wing simulator, and UAV simulator. A fixed wing simulator is a sophisticated training device designed to replicate the flight characteristics and systems of a fixed wing aircraft. The fixed wing simulator segment is expected to register significant market share during the forecast period due to the expanding fleet of aircraft and increasing air traffic.
Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), often referred to as drones, are aircraft that are operated without a human pilot onboard. The UAV simulator accurately models the aerodynamics, control systems, and flight dynamics specific to the drone. This segment is also estimated to be the fastest growing during the forecast due to the growing demand for drone pilots.
Commercial Segment Dominates the Market Owing to Rising Demand for Aircraft Simulators from Pilot Training Organizations
The market by application is segmented into commercial and military. The commercial segment dominated the market in the base year. It is expected to be the fastest-growing segment due to the rising demand for aircraft simulators from pilot training organizations globally.
The military segment is predicted to witness significant growth during the forecast period. The segment's growth is due to increasing military fleet. Furthermore, the rising need for training to pilots due to the addition of new advanced aircraft to fleets is predicted to aid market growth.
North America Flight Simulator Market Size, 2022 USD Million)
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In terms of geography, the market is divided into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the Rest of the World.
North America dominated the market in 2022 and was valued at USD 1.58 billion in 2022 attributed to the presence of major OEMs. With a series of strategic acquisitions, including the commercial business of prominent players TRU Simulation + Training Inc. (Canada), CAE has taken the lead in driving consolidation in the market. CAE's acquisition of L3Harris Technologies’ Military Training business is one of the biggest acquisitions in the market and approximately doubles CAE’s core military training business in the U.S. In June 2021, CAE Inc. completed the acquisition of L3Harris Technologies’ Military Training business for a deal amount of USD 1.05 billion.
Europe captured the second-largest share in the base year. The growth of the regional market is attributed to increasing demand for aircraft simulators for cost-effective training and focus on safety and risk mitigation. Furthermore, the growing emphasis on environmental sustainability and operational efficiency is also expected to boost the growth of the market in the region.
Asia Pacific held a significant market share in the base year and is expected to be the fastest-growing region during the forecast period. The market growth is attributed to the rising demand for aircraft simulators for pilot training organizations. For instance, in February 2023, Gen24 Flybiz, an India-based emerging flight training company, signed a contract with Avion for the procurement of eight Airbus A320 aircraft simulators after the acquisition of Avion Group and Avion Simulators. The establishment of their new training center with two Avion A320 simulators is set to be transported to India and certified by the Indian civil aviation authority, DGCA.
The rest of the world is anticipated to witness moderate growth in the market during the forecast period. This growing aviation industry in South America is predicted to propel the market growth. Moreover, in the Middle East, the expansion of airline fleets to meet increasing passenger demand catalyzes market growth.
Mergers & Acquisitions, Emerging Markets, UAV Simulators, and Product Innovations are the Key Focus Areas of Leading Players
The global flight simulator market is consolidated with key players, CAE Inc., FlightSafety International Inc., L3Harris Technologies Inc., the Boeing Company, Thales Group, and others. Major players focus on mergers & acquisitions, emerging markets, UAV simulators, technological advancements, and product innovations to increase their market share. For instance, in July 2022, CAE unveiled its latest pilot training innovation, the CAE 700MXR aircraft simulator. Specifically designed for the eVTOL market, this cutting-edge simulator is set to transform flight training in complex urban environments. With its compact mini-motion platform and 360⁰ field of view visuals, the CAE 700MXR offers highly realistic and physics-based customized simulation systems for single-pilot operations.
An Infographic Representation of Flight Simulator Market
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The research report provides a detailed market analysis. It comprises all major aspects such as R&D capabilities and optimization of the operating services. Moreover, the report offers insights into the flight simulator market share, trends, regional analysis, Porter’s five forces analysis, and competitive landscape of various companies profiled with market competition, and primarily highlights key industry developments. In addition to the above-mentioned factors, it mainly focuses on several factors that have contributed to the global market growth in recent years.
CAGR of 5.25% from 2023 to 2030
Value (USD Billion)
By Type, Platform, Application, and Geography
As per the Fortune Business Insights study, the market size was USD 4.38 billion in 2022.
The market is likely to grow at a CAGR of 5.25% over the forecast period (2023-2030).
The full flight simulator segment is expected to lead the market due to the rising demand for highly skilled pilots from the aviation industry.
The market size in North America stood at USD 1.58 billion in 2022.
Shortage of pilots in the aviation industry and rising demand for simulators from the defense sector are expected to drive the market.
Some of the top players in the market are CAE Inc., FlightSafety International Inc., L3Harris Technologies Inc., Boeing Company, Thales Group, and others.
The U.S. dominated the market in 2022.
High initial investments and regulatory compliance are expected to hamper the market.
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