I know a few people who use flight sims to keep their IFR skills sharp. I don’t have my IFR rating (yet) so I just use them to fly around.
I use Microsoft Flight Simulator. Which is now end of life. So what are the other options out there? I’ve been able to find two.
X-Plane is the flight simulator. It runs on all platforms, has pretty good graphics, and is extremely accurate. So accurate in fact that it has been approved by the FAA (and I think Transport Canada) for use in Flight Training Devices. Toronto Airways uses X-Plane and hardware from PFC for their certified simulator.
You can do some pretty neat stuff, like fly the shuttle (doing an approach in that thing from 110,000′ is impossible), to buzzing around on Mars.
The cost of the software is $30 for the desktop version. I haven’t tried the mobile version (for $10) and have no idea who useful it really would be for training.
The other contender is FlightGear. This is an open source flight simulator which means that anyone is able to contribute code to engine to improve it. I’ve only had a few hours of experience flying in FlightGear and it does the trick for practicing IFR approaches. For $0 you can’t complain really.
Which brings me to another point about FlightGear. It’s free and the code is open source for anyone to use and resell. There has been some talk on the internet lately about people taking FlightGear, rebranding it, and then selling it for $50. I suspect they are trying to take advantage of everyone jumping off the MS Flight Sim ship. Keep in mind, these people are not adding any additional functionality or improvements to the core FlightGear engine.
Although technically nothing is wrong with taking an open source application and reselling it for money, there is the moral aspect. Not only are you selling someone’s other work, you’re ripping people off by making the pay for something they can get for free.
So, if you’re looking for a flight sim. Either use X-Plane from x-plane.com or FlightGear from flightgear.org. Don’t get ripped off!