What is the most popular flight simulation
software? How many are planning to get the upcoming Microsoft Flight Simulator? And how
much do you spend on hardware and software every year? In this video I am going to present
some exciting findings from the 2019 FlightSim Community Survey. Hi guys. My name is Magnus and I run Navigraph,
a company that has been serving the international flight simulation community with charts and
navdata for about 15 years now. Every year we are compiling a survey to measure all things
related to flight simulation. We do this in collaboration with our survey partners. Last
year we had 15,000 participants. This year we had a whopping 17,800 respondents. Thank
you so much to all of you who contributed – respondents as well as partners. The survey consisted of 93 questions and covered
demographics, relation to aviation, simulator habits, consumption habits, the simulator
platform itself, some questions on media and community participation, and of course questions
on aircraft and addon software. I dare to say that this is the most comprehensive survey
of its kind both in terms of questions and number of respondents. We are not going to
cover all of the results in this video, but if you are interested in getting the full
report it is available for free on blog.navigraph.com. Let’s start with demographics. Who are you
guys who participated in the survey? Well, we wanted to be sure to get as representative
of a sample as possible from the flight simulation community so we asked a group of partners
to join us. 29 addon developers, media outlets and interest organizations helped distribute
a link to the survey among their customers, users, and members using social media and
newsletters. Over the two weeks the survey was live the partners attracted respondents
from all parts of the flight simulation community. The biggest contributing partners were Navigraph,
OrbX, FSElite, Carenado and Infinite Flight. The first thing we noticed is that flight
simulation is really a topic which interests people of all ages. The age distribution ranges
all the way from 15 to 85 and is quite evenly spread out, with one exception – in this histogram
you can see a peak in the bin of 20-year-olds. Actually we noted the same result in last
year’s survey. Could it be that the interest in aviation is at its peak before you continue
ínto work life, university studies, and other adult life chores? What do you think? Write
us a comment in the comments field below. 98.3% of the participants are male. Only 0.7%
of the respondents were women – and unfortunately this gender distribution is consistent with
last year’s survey as well. As an interesting comparison worth mentioning is that in the
real world about 5% of all airline pilots are women, according to International Society
of Women Airline Pilots. We don’t know why there is such a skew towards male flightsim
pilots – but if you have a theory we’d love to hear about it. We also see that more than a quarter of the
respondents come from the United States. Other big countries in the survey were the United
Kingdom, Germany, Canada, Australia, the Netherlands and France. Now, let’s look at the relationship to aviation.
22% of the respondents report to work within something related to aviation. More specifically
six percent are airline pilots. This is both interesting and a little funny. Imagine an
airline pilot just getting off a long haul, coming home, kissing the missus, or the husband
in 0.7% of the cases, only to immediately go down in the basement and fire up the simulator.
Talk about dedication! But I guess there are perfectly good explanations for this – maybe
airport familiarization or something like that. 10% of the respondents have a Private Pilot
License, six percent have a student pilot license, and 13% have some other type of pilot
license. Among those who said that they had some sort of license we also asked if they
started with flight simulation before or after studying for their pilot license. 73% said
they got their flight simulator before starting with their aviation studies. I don’t think
it’s a stretch to say that flight simulation is an activity which in many cases leads to
a real world pilot license or even a career within aviation, and this is what we wanted
to investigate in this question. Nine percent of you are currently enrolled
in flight school and 27% of the rest of you are considering taking real-world flight lessons
within the next year. In the section on simulation habits we could
see that most of you had about five years of experience flying flight simulators, but
the distribution was actually quite even with a curious peak at 20 years. What’s interesting
is that this peak was also present in last year’s survey. Some respondents also reported
having as many as 35-40 years of experience and that’s quite impressive. The respondents preferred to fly short/medium
haul regional jets, single engine airplanes, or long haul airliners – in that order. Most
of you fly five to 10 hours a week, primarily IFR. Alright, alright! Ok! Enough with the numbers!
Let’s cut to the chase – I know what you all have been waiting for. Which is the most
popular flight simulation software? Last year it was a tie between Laminar Research’s
X-Plane 11 and Lockheed Martin’s Prepar3D. While there were slightly more respondents
who preferred the X-Plane there were more respondents who replied that they used Prepar3D
on a more regular basis than X-Plane. However, for all practical purposes, one could say
it was a tie. This year, the result is exactly the same!
A few more of the respondents prefer X-Plane, but when comparing the two, Prepar3D has more
frequent users. I know that each simulator has a very dedicated
fan base and there were some pretty heated discussions online about these results. I
completely understand that if you have put a ton of money towards one simulator, you
only want to hear reassuring things about your commitment to that simulator. Emotional
reactions aside – these discussions were actually good and we used them to improve the survey. One topic which was brought up was selection
bias. Some readers of the survey were concerned about the fact that the respondents which
participate in the survey were not randomly selected. Because the respondents were invited
to participate, and not picked at random, the concern was that respondents could be
biased to answer in a way not representative for the bigger population of flight simmers.
It’s pretty challenging to make an interesting YouTube video on the topic of statistical
sampling methods, so I will spare you the details and refer to the method and summary
chapters in the survey, but consider this: Last year we had 15,000 respondents. This
year we had 17,800. Only 39% of this year’s respondents also participated in last year’s
survey. This means that 61% of this year’s respondents did not take last year’s survey.
Still – most of the distributions are roughly the same! I am not going to draw any definitive
conclusions from this – all I am saying is that from two huge pools of respondents we
get comparable results. Well, what does it matter? you say. When the
new Microsoft Flight Simulator arrives, everything is going to change anyways. Almost true! 56%
of the respondents will replace their current flight simulator software with the new Microsoft
Flight Simulator once it becomes available. 40%, however, say they are happy with their
current setup. I personally must say that I expected more
people to be excited about the Microsoft Flight Simulator release, but it’s probably the
same type of brand loyalty we saw in the discussions following last year’s survey which makes
people stick to their chosen platforms. What do you think? Share your thoughts in the comments
field here below. There is tons more to cover in the survey,
but I am going to wrap up by saying a few words on spending and consumption. The median
software spending was estimated to 245 dollars per year. That’s the same as last year.
However, hardware spending dropped to 111 dollars per year. Why this is we don’t know,
but 43% of the respondents also stated that they are postponing purchases in anticipation
of the release of the new Microsoft Flight Simulator. 48% of the respondents think it
is very likely that they will buy the new simulator. Conversely 7% are pretty sure they
won’t buy it. That’s enough numbers from me. If you want
to read the whole thing go over to blog.navigraph.com and look for the PDF document. It covers combat
and helicopter simulator preference; what people look for in a flight planning software;
which chart format that pilots know and prefer; how Virtual Reality has developed over the
last year, and much much more. What happens now, you wonder? Well, we are
sending a copy of the survey report to all of the partners who participated. In this
survey, we break down the results in two parts – one that reflects the general flightsim
population and one that reflects the partners’ user groups. That way the partner can compare
who their user group differs from the rest of the community. Moreover, each partner had
the opportunity to contribute with survey questions. The insights of those questions,
contrasted between general population and user group, will help guide development of
products and services. So thank you for participating to the survey, and thank you for taking the
time, and thank you for helping us create better products and services for you. If you have any questions about the survey,
drop them in the comments field below and we will do our very best to answer them. That’s
all for now. Thanks!




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