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The global flight simulator market size was USD 3.55 billion in 2020. The global impact of COVID-19 has been unmatched and staggering, with aircraft flight simulator systems witnessing a negative impact on demand across the globe amid the pandemic. Based on our analysis, the global market exhibited a low growth of -39.75% in 2020 compared to the average year-on-year growth during 2017-2019. The market is projected to grow from USD 3.67 billion in 2021 to USD 5.75 billion in 2028 at a CAGR of 5.99% in the 2021-2028 period. The rise in CAGR is attributable to this market demand and growth, returning to pre-pandemic levels once the pandemic is over.
The aircraft flight simulator is an electronic device designed to create an artificial environment for pilot training and other objectives. This device holds a prominent share of credit for the safety standard achieved by the aviation industry. The flight training system is used for training rather than learning purposes, which is strictly focused on a systematic procedure required for successful flight operations.
The rising demand for active pilots in the high-growth region is expected to drive their demand. The simulator helps pilots to understand the aircraft structure and operation to perform their duties well. According to CAE Inc.'s newly released pilot demand outlook 2020/2029, the civil aviation industry is expected to require more than 260,000 new pilots over the next decade. In addition to this, the growing investment for the establishment of modern aircraft training organizations is anticipated to boost the adoption of these simulators.
Short-Term Decline in the Number of Active Pilots Amid Covid-19 Pandemic
The outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic and severe lockdown measures has created a huge impact on the aviation industry, resulting in a short-term shutdown of flight simulator centers and a decline in the number of active pilots. The decrease in pilot demand further resulted in the postponement of such simulator deliveries. According to the International Air Transport Association (IATA), the global airline industry is estimated to suffer a loss of USD 314 billion in 2020, owing to the COVID-19 pandemic. It is a significant decline of almost 55% of revenue for the global airline passenger industry. This factor is projected to impact the hiring of new pilots.
However, the flight simulation training providers are focusing on adopting new strategies or redesigning operation structures to overcome the impact of COVID-19. Avion Group has developed a cost-effective and short recurrent program for flight training for pilots amid COVID-19. In addition to this, in October 2020, IATA released guidance for managing pilot training and licensing during COVID-19.
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Rising Adoption of VR Pilot Training System is a vital Trend
The growing technological adoption in the airline industry is enhancing aircraft efficiency to a great extent due to an increase in high-level safety measures. Also, well-trained pilots are fuelling the demand for simulator systems. The pilots are needed to train in the tactical interaction by knowing the detailed use of aircraft equipment due to regular aircraft model, size, and technology changes. The flight deck crew and cabin crew undergo simulator practice equipped with augmented reality (AR) and virtual reality (VR). These benefits are projected to boost demand for these simulators in the future.
The Japanese airlines offer engine mechanics participation in supplementary training based on augmented reality, including computer-generated graphics. Moreover, virtual reality is mainly used in the training of cabin crew through augmented structures. It replicates the cabin interior & elements such as door, seat, and passenger interaction with a virtual passenger. The ground crew plays a vital role in passenger and pilot safety with the necessary skills and technical knowledge. Virtual reality provides training for wing problems, aircraft issue detection, and handling methods for ground crew persons. The growing demand for virtual reality in training programs across the industry is projected to drive simulator market growth over the forecast period.
High Demand for Active Pilots to Boost Flight Simulator Market Growth
The aviation industry has exhibited strong growth in the last few years. This is credited to an increase in air traffic and tourism activities around the world. These factors have also proved to help airline operators maximize the revenue from the air passengers. However, the increasing pressure on commercial pilots is one of the key reasons for leaving the workforce before retirement age. The reduced workforce has directly impacted the unavailability of skilled pilots in various countries.
However, the European and the Middle Eastern countries have recorded average pilot retirement age, i.e., Europe has 43.7 years, and the Middle East and Africa have 45.7 years. The airline industry is facing high requirements for active new pilots as first officers and captains. It is estimated that the airline industry requires around 300,000 active pilots by 2027. These factors are likely to raise the demand for training systems through these simulators to make the pilots ready for commercial airlines in the future. The rising demand for active pilots in various countries is projected to boost the market growth from 2020 to 2027.
Increasing Air Passenger Traffic to Boost Market Growth
An exponential rise in air passenger traffic has increased the requirement of additional flight frequencies and commercial pilots to reduce extra loads. However, the airline companies were operated through commercial aircraft at the maximum load factors to gain high-profit margins and added revenue. The increased load factor is accelerating profits and reducing operational costs for global companies. In 2019, Airbus S.A.S. and the other vital companies had estimated that around 39,000 and above new aircraft would be operating by 2028. These factors are set to fuel the demand for new, professionally trained pilots and first officers in the future years. An increase in passenger traffic resulting in more pressure on airlines to recruit commercial pilots around the world is also likely to boost the market growth. For Instance, in 2020, CAE Inc. released the 2020-2029 pilot demand outlook, which states that there will be a short-term need for approximately 27,000 new professional pilots starting in late 2021.
High Cost of Aircraft Simulator Systems is a Major Restraining Factor
Aircraft simulator systems consist of various computer systems, which handle different aspects. These systems need to provide the actual application of flight controls. The effects of the aircraft systems and reaction to the external factors include cloud, precipitation, air density, and turbulence. These factors are necessary to incorporate in the systems for creating a replica of the actual flight operations. The aircraft design & development experts and engineers create artificial characteristics in simulation. These factors are responsible for the high cost of aircraft simulation systems.
Moreover, the technological advancements in motion sensors are profoundly used in the simulation. Highly used technologies, such as vibration and dynamics pilot seats in the simulation, are proven to be the most effective in commercial pilot training, which further triggers the system cost across the globe. Hence, the high cost of simulator hardware and product development is the primary factor restraining market growth.
Full Mission Simulator to Grow at Faster Pace during 2021-2028
Based on type, the market is classified into full flight simulator, flight training device, full mission simulator, fixed based simulator. The full segment is expected to hold the largest share in the base year and is anticipated to dominate the market throughout the forecast period. This system is projected to experience high demand around the globe due to its excellent training capability for the pilot, crew, and ground support. It is widely used for various training applications such as commercial pilot, business jet pilot, helicopter, and rotary-wing pilot. It is also used for efficient aircraft design and development.
The full flight simulator system is well equipped with motion sensors and night vision devices, which help the pilots learn the exact situation they will face during night operations. These benefits are propelling the demand for full-flight simulators.
On the other hand, the full mission simulator is experiencing the fastest growth during the forecast period due to its rising demand for military & defense applications.
UAV Simulator Segment to Grow Rapidly Backed by High Demand from Defense & Commercial Sectors
By platform, the market is segmented into a fixed-wing simulator, rotary-wing simulator, and UAV simulator. The UAV simulator segment is projected to grow at the fastest rate in the aircraft simulator market during the forecast period. The increasing demand for unmanned aerial systems (UAS) for commercial and defense applications is likely to fuel this segment's growth across the globe by 2027. Several defense agencies are heavily investing and focusing on the development of medium-altitude long-endurance (MALE) and high-altitude long-endurance (HALE) UAVs for intelligence, surveillance, reconnaissance (ISR) application. These factors are projected to boost the market growth during the forecast period.
The fixed-wing segment is expected to hold the largest flight simulator market share in the global market during the forecast period. The increased deliveries of commercial aircraft due to a rise in the number of air travelers worldwide are expected to drive segment growth.
The rotary-wing segment displays significant growth due to increased demand for emergency helicopter medical services (HEMs).
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Commercial Application Segment Held Dominant Share in 2020
By application, the market is segmented into commercial and military & defense. The commercial application segment registered the largest market share in 2020. This large share is attributed to the increased adoption of commercial aircraft in high-growth regions due to exponential air passenger traffic growth. The rise in the number of commercial aircraft led to increased demand for active pilots in high-growth regions. This factor helps to grow the market in 2020.
On the other hand, the military & defense segment is projected to grow at a faster pace in the market during the forecast period. Commercial flight simulator technology is well known to train key security arms, including the military, navy, and air force. These simulators are widely used to train soldiers for several applications such as tanks, aircraft carriers, ships, helicopters, tankers aircraft, and transport aircraft. They have tremendous scope in the military and defense sector, owing to the increasing capability of various security arms in several countries.
Moreover, mission-based training, tactical and strategic techniques are required for the recruits and officers. It also includes flying in battle, emergency recovery, and coordination with air support and ground support during critical operations. These factors are projected to boost the growth of this segment in the coming years.
North America Flight Simulator Market Size, 2020 (USD Billion)
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The global market is segmented on region into North America, Europe, Asia Pacific, and the rest of the world. Our research methodology's findings indicate that North America was estimated to hold the largest market share in 2020. According to CAE Inc., the region is projected to require around 85,000 active pilots to cater to the airline industry in the next ten years. Moreover, the region has the presence of a large number of aircraft simulator system manufacturers and several end-users that would facilitate market growth during the forecast period.
Europe was estimated to hold the second-largest market share in the base year due to prominent simulator system manufacturers and aircraft manufacturers in this region, such as Airbus, Thales Group, and Indra Sistemas.
The Asia Pacific is expected to show strong growth in the market during the forecast period. The high demand for commercial aircraft deliveries in developing countries such as India and China owing to growing air traffic is likely to drive the market in the coming years.
Furthermore, the Middle East & Africa market is anticipated to grow at a rapid pace on account of the rising air travelers in the Arab countries from the past few years. Also, the increasing investment in the tourism sector and the presence of well-established airlines such as Emirates, Etihad Airways, Oman Air, and Gulf Air in the region are expected to drive the market in the Middle East. Moreover, the rest of the world's market will showcase moderate growth due to the increasing global air passenger traffic and domestic flight operations.
Key Players to Adopt Strategies for Continuous Innovation and Development
The competitive landscape of the market depicts the domination of a few selected players such as CAE Inc., The Boeing Company, and Thales Group. A diversified product portfolio of aircraft simulator systems and solutions, along with the increased investment in R&D and strategic collaborations, are the most prominent factors responsible for the dominance of these companies. They are adopting organic and inorganic growth strategies such as mergers and acquisitions, new product launches, long-term contracts with the airlines & governments, and long-term relationships with the pilot training institutes to sustain their position in the market. For instance, in February 2021, CAE Inc. announced that it had signed an agreement with L3Harris Technologies, Inc. to acquire its military training business worth USD 1.05 billion. L3Harris Technologies’ military training business includes link simulation & training, Doss aviation, and AMI, a design and manufacturing facility for simulator hardware.
An Infographic Representation of Flight Simulator Market
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The global flight simulator market research report provides a detailed analysis of the market dynamics and focuses on key aspects, such as simulator types, simulator by platform, and applications. Moreover, the report offers insights on market trends, competitive landscape, market competition, product pricing, market status, and highlights key industry developments. In addition to the factors mentioned above, the report encompasses several direct and indirect factors that have contributed to the sizing of the global market over recent years.
Value (USD Billion)
Type; Platform; Application and Geography
Fortune Business Insights says that the global market size was USD 3.55 billion in 2020 and is projected to reach USD 5.75 billion by 2028.
The market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 5.99% during the forecast period (2021-2028).
The commercial application segment is expected to be the leading segment in this market during the forecast period.
CAE Inc. is the leading player in the global market.
North America dominated the market in terms of share in 2020.
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