Flight Training Cockpit: Roll Your Own Sim

PilotMall’s add-as-you-go tabletop flight simulator lets you create a custom training panel. The only thing missing is FAA approval.

You can retrofit instruments and avionics in your aircraft panel, so why not custom retrofit your own simulator to match the layout? That’s the concept behind the new Flight Training Cockpit Advanced Panel, which is sold by PilotMall.com.


The tabletop simulator—which uses Saitek ProFlite electronic instruments, avionics and controls—allows for a custom layout, thanks to a modular and interchangeable design. The simulator’s instrument panel is made of 14-gauge steel and mimics a real panel, which even includes a glare shield.

“We’ve been selling the Saitek flight training instruments and avionics panels for years, but customers have recently been asking for an easy way to mount the instruments to make the suite look and function like an actual aircraft panel,” said PilotMall’s Neil Glazer.

The Advanced Training Cockpit is appealing to owners who might rearrange the instrument and avionics panel in their own aircraft and want to practice flying the new layout. The simulator is designed for easy configuration of new instruments—from a basic six-pack layout for a new student pilot—to an advanced layout for the instrument pilot, for example. Owners can purchase a full package today, or can simply buy the panel and build as they go.

Adding components is as easy as removing the pre-configured slots (no cutting required) and inserting the instruments and avionics. Components are installed with Hex cap screws and nuts. There’s even an annunciator panel, with 24 status and warning lights that are customizable to match the equipment being flown. The system uses an electrical panel with nine programmable toggle switches to command specific systems.

Flying Table
The advanced panel hardware and the Saitek electronic instruments work with Microsoft Flight Sim X and with X-Plane, when third-party plug-ins are used.

The advanced panel can accommodate a variety of external controls, including Cessna and Mooney-style throttle, mixture and propeller controls as well as a Piper-style quadrant. There’s also an optional retractable landing gear control, twin-engine throttle quadrant and trim wheel. The controls simply secure to a table or other surface, using supplied C-clamps.

We flew a fully equipped Advanced Panel sim and were impressed with its realistic and high-end feel. The panel sells for $399 and a fully equipped simulator—including controls, instruments, avionics autopilot and annunciator panel—is around $2500.

Unfortunately, the simulator is not FAA approved for satisfying required proficiency time, instrument experience or training for certificates or ratings. Visit Pilotmall.com, 800-249-5730.

Editor in Chief Larry Anglisano has been a staple at Aviation Consumer since 1995. An active land, sea and glider pilot, Larry has over 30 years’ experience as an avionics repairman and flight test pilot. He’s the editorial director overseeing sister publications Aviation Safety magazine, IFR magazine and is a regular contributor to KITPLANES magazine with his Avionics Bootcamp column.