The multi-engine instrument rating is the hardest and most expensive flight training you will go through – paying £550 per hour on a DA-42 is PAINFUL!

Check out my best selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon on how to progress your MEIR & CPL, MCC to hopefully get that 1st time passes!

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My Garmin G1000 Multi-Engine Instrument Rating sim set up at home

One of the problems I had during my MEIR was finding a way to practice all the various manoeuvres I kept getting wrong in the aircraft on the ground – NDB tracking, holds etc! In the Pilot Training Guide, I had mentioned that one of the best ways to get through your MEIR is to do as much prep and practice on the ground as you can.

There are many useful tools that you can use to assist. For this blog post, I wanted to share what I did for my MEIR with regards to flight sim. Disclaimer – this is not the most recent or latest setup, and I’m sure you will be able to find many more up to date ‘snazzy’ configurations.

The priority for me was to use not to rush out and buy the latest PC and lots of other gear, but try and use what I had computer wise and try to keep the costs down.

Flight simulator setup and the Garmin G1000 with DA-42

One of the first items that was ‘new’ when I started my MEIR was using the glass cockpit of the DA42. I did my PPL and hour building on steam gauges. To get used to this, I downloaded (for the iPad) the G1000 PFD (and later MFD) from Simionic. 

The Simionic G1000 PFD app is stand alone, and you can use it in isolation on your iPad to get used to reading the various nomenclature – speed tape, finding your way around how the information is presented, etc. This was enough for my Multi-Engine Piston Rating (MEP). 

For IR though, I needed to take the practice a step further to practice the various profiles and manoeuvres I would have to use. I tried to use what I had as I was trying to keep costs down. To make that work, I dug out and recycled my ancient Flight Simulator X (FSX).. Now, there are newer versions of flight sim and other alternatives such as X Plane, but I am not familiar with those. For that reason, this blog post will be based on FSX. 

With FSX, I needed to download a DA-42 addon – the aircraft I was doing my MEIR on which did not come as standard on FSX. The best software I could find to add the DA-42 onto flight sim was the Alabeo DA-42. I also purchased a budget Logitech joystick.

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Overall, I found the Alabeo DA-42 ok on FSX, but it did have some limitations. The Garmin G1000 on FSX is not all that accurate in terms of representation and does not have all the functionality that the G1000 fitted to the physical aircraft. There were other quirks too with the FSX Alabeo DA-42, like not being able to select the ADF. I will share how I got around this in this post.

Getting a more accurate G1000 experience 

To get more functionality in the G1000 using FSX, I linked the Simionic G1000 PFD & MFD already on my IPad with FSX. That worked a lot better and gave most of the functionality within the aircraft. The exception was terrain and weather overlay information (usually an optional extra with Garmin). 

The G1000 as a system is incredible such that it has sufficient capacity to act as full Electronic Flight Instrument System and Flight Management Computer for some light passenger jets. To get the most out if the G1000, I enrolled on an online tutorial course with Kings Schools.

There are cheaper alternatives around, which in some cases can be free (check out YouTube). I would recommend that you spend some time learning and playing around with the G1000 and learning the essential functions that you will be using during your IR. 

During my IR, FSX, Alabeo & Simionic G1000 PFD & MFD allowed me to fly full routes with actual weather virtually at home.

To get the ADF to work on FSX in the DA-42, I had to change aircraft in FSX to something that had an ADF (any of the FSX stock aircraft are fine), tune in and activate the ADF and then return to the DA-42. It was slightly annoying to have to do this to get the ADF to work, but once the ADF was working, it was beneficial to practice DA42 NDB approaches and holds. 

There are various other upgrades to FSX that you can add to make the simulation even more realistic, like add ATC (VATSIM) and more accurate scenery. I was using my home sim setup as a procedure trainer mostly so was not overly concerned with having the best graphics or environment.

Want to get ahead for your multi crew course? Have a look at my post on how to prepare for your Multi Crew Course!

Check out my best selling Pilot Training Guide on Amazon on how to progress your MEIR & CPL, MCC to hopefully get that 1st time passes!

See it on Amazon

I would love to hear your questions on G1000 home sims. Please leave a comment in the section below!

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  1. Hi KC, I?m hopefully starting my MEIR soon. Just been reading your blog post and doing a bit of research on whether or not to buy a new laptop for Microsoft Flight Sim – the 2020 version is out now so would be looking to get that.
    I know that the Xbox has MFS2020 on it, and would be way cheaper for me to buy a used Xbox, so I just wanted to ask –
    did you use the sim for mainly g1000 familiarisation and do you think that getting the Xbox version would be enough –
    or would you recommend investing in a new laptop to run mfs20 – or to even just stick with the old mfx version?

    1. Hi @Dan, thanks for stopping by and reading. For me, I would go with the lowest cost option every day. Your ‘home sim’ is to practice mentally and get into the groove of MEIR and the pace at which things happen. Having a high spec all singing and dancing flight sim I don’t think will give you that much extra in my opinion.

      If you have tonnes of cash and you have all your flight training paid funded – fine, go ahead and get the latest version and a high spec laptop. For me though, I was completely fine with a budget ?500 laptop that ran the old version of FSX really well – because the old FSX had been around for so long! Personal preference but I wasn’t interested in having the latest graphics and scenery – I just wanted to practice the procedures and get to grips with the G1000.

      Just a side note, if money is tight, I’d say keep the money in the bank and spend extra on MCC course instead and do the best one you can afford (ideally APS MCC) as that will make the most difference to employment prospects (as and when things get moving again).

      Wishing you all the best and please shout if you have any other questions.


  2. I have also built a similar flight simulator using the Alabeo DA42 model which has the KAP140 autopilot. I found the same limitation with ADF tuning and other shortcomings such as non availability of GPS in OBS mode which is a really useful feature when flying into an airfield with no instrument approach plates, where a GPS “Direct to” an airfield with course set to runway direction acts unofficially as a localiser. I use Lockheed Martin Prepar3D ver2 (They purchased the old Microsoft FSX and re-vamped it) I found the old Microsoft FSX to be unstable on Windows10. I have a complete UK wide photographic scenery from Horizon including Channel Islands, Scilly and all the Scottish islands which I bought nearly 10 years ago and is IMO superior to other flight simulators using Autogen. When flying to a new airfield or instructing with the simulator using Photographic scenery the views are similar to Google Earth and a pilot can plan a route and practice circuits and landings with a simulator view of EXACTLY how it will appear when flying to that destination in a real aircraft. I never clear a student to fly to a new airfield until they have completed at least 12 circuits and landings using the approved procedure as published or shown in e.g. the Pooley guide or online for the airfield they are flying to. As a flying instructor (and not a gamer or simmer) in the UK, I use this set up extensively training students. It’s a pity that there is not a DA42 model with the superior GFC700 auto pilot as fitted in DA42NG aircraft as the KAP140 autopilot is frequently referred to as *RAP140 (work out the alternative first letter yourself) also the KAP140 in the Alabeo model performs very differently to the real world aircraft e.g. when reaching the final destination the Alabeo KAP140 just circles, whilst the real world aircraft with a KAP140 continues on the same course. There are other significant differences in the Alabeo model to the real world aircraft in the G1000 where many of the nested menu options are just not present or differ significantly to the real world aircraft, which means one has to proceed with caution and not take everything literally to be the same as a real aircraft.

    1. I should add that a Gaming or high end computer is simply not necessary to run Prepar3D. Any Intel core i5 processor with say 4GB of ram will work well. I use a 7 year old processor Core i5-3470 which is more than adequate but a low end Graphics card is also needed to avoid the scenery blurring when changing views. I use a GEforce GXT1050TI which was chosen as it does not have a fan and is thus silent when using the simulator. Also the Power supply either has to have a very large fan or no fan.

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