WORDS: Peter Steele
25 March 2022
From £9.49 per month | www.planeenglishsim.com
I’ve not been able to fly since last summer and I’m painfully aware that the first thing to suffer, when I eventually get back to flying, will be my RT. Happily, I’ve come across an app which may help that horrible stumbling first attempt to ask for a basic service.
PlaneEnglish’s ARSim is a very clever app which provides you with the basics of number, vocabulary and phrases, then listens and tells you what you have got wrong.
In the settings menu you can specify an airfield (six in the UK) and you can also set up your aircraft call sign and choose between FAA and ICAO (beta) Phraseology standard.
I managed to get access to some of the more advanced scenarios. As I fly mostly day VFR I chose VFR-Taxi Out lessons to start with. Lesson one gave me a chart of my selected airfield (North Weald EGSX) and instructions at the bottom.
‘You are at Ramp. Announce to North Weald Traffic that you will taxi to Runway 12’.
On the right is a blue / red pulsing microphone symbol. Pressing that allows you to talk to the app. If you aren’t sure what to say, below it is an eye symbol with ‘RES’ above it. Pressing that shows the correct response. You can simply read that out or attempt your own response.
I tried my own and the app kindly gave feedback on a sliding scale between 0 and 100.
Clicking ‘show feedback’ showed me I’d missed out ‘North Weald traffic’ (D’oh!). and I hadn’t stated who I was talking to (North Weald, of course. Told you I was rusty…).
Pressing the blue / red pulsing right arrow moves you onto the next section.
The later lessons get harder, with much more information to pass back to ATC, just like in the real world. Having changed my airport to Ottawa (not all lessons are available at all airports) I had a real challenge with different taxiway instructions and a ‘fast speaking’ ATC voice. I must admit for some of these I knew I hadn’t written them all down, so I was glad of the red ATC Eye, which shows you a written transcript of ATC’s last transmission.
I tried other lessons, including an IFR En route Request and an IFR Landing request, both using Ottawa Tower. No matter how I clearly tried pronouncing ‘Ottawa’ the app’s feedback still showed I had missed saying ‘Ottawa’ – and sometimes ‘Ottawa Tower’.
This is a common problem with all speech recognition software I’ve used on an iPad. Generally, I found the app worked well, understanding my voice most of the time. After a bit of practice, I found an improvement by pausing slightly between each word.
There is a seven days’ free trial then the cost is split into VFR lessons, IFR lessons, or both, monthly, six months or annually from £9.49 a month for the VFR lessons only up to £93.99 a year for all VFR and IFR lessons.
The developer says ARSim will soon include a digital and analogue representation of a physics-based Primary Flight display, which will provide users with flight information in the same way that they would get on the aircraft. Later expansions are planned, including the addition of more aircraft and PFD systems.
I liked this app. I think it would have been beneficial for me when I started my PPL 16 years ago, and it’s useful to me now to clear those RT cobwebs away before climbing back into a cockpit and committing to a spot of aviation.