FAA-Certified X-Plane

Using X-Plane to log some hours

Any copy of X-Plane purchased from the Ordering page can have the features required for FAA certification "unlocked" using a special USB key. However, getting the actual certification through the FAA takes a great deal more work than getting the X-Plane software ready.

Certification requires not only that the user have the certified X-Plane software, but also the certified hardware (cockpit and flight controls) available through companies like Precision Flight Controls and Fidelity. This is because flight training systems can only be certified as a complete package (a software and hardware combination). The certified software is available for $500 to $1,000 per copy from PFC and Fidelity and the hardware runs from $5,000 to $500,000. The retail version of X-Plane purchased at X-Plane.com is not certified for flight training right out of the box, since certification requires a software and hardware combination. However, the software available for about $50 at X-Plane.com is almost identical what is found in the $500,000 full-motion FAA-certified platforms. The biggest difference is that the FAA-certified versions have custom aircraft files with larger instrument panels, which are set up to work with hardware radios like those found in the physical cockpits. The FAA-certified version also has some of the purely fun stuff (like Mars and space flight) removed--even though those situations are simulated accurately in X-Plane, just like the FAA-certified subsonic terrestrial flight. When the FAA certifies the first Martian business jet, we'll be there.

There is nothing stopping users from getting in touch with the FAA and working through the steps to certification from there. However, most users will find that it is more efficient to purchase a simulator already certified by Fidelity or PFC.

X-Plane.org conducted a quick interview a year or so ago with Mike Altman, president of PFC. For a quick overview of PFC's certified simulator and the design behind them, read the interview here.

Quick links

Find us on Facebook!

System requirements

  • A 2 GHz CPU
  • 1 GB RAM
  • DirectX 9 video card or newer

Learn More...

See X-Plane in action!

Prepare to be stunned by X-Plane. Videos and photos speak where words can't. See the Multimedia page...

What do other people think?

Get more opinions before you buy. Read reviews and connect with current users. We're confident they feel as strongly about X-Plane as we do. Learn more...

Switching from Microsoft ESP

Tens of thousands of users have done it already. Switch to X-Plane and find out how accurate a computer flight model can be. Companies like Kalitta Air, Northwest and Japan Airlines, Cessna, and NASA trust X-Plane for training and testing. With the best of the best using X-Plane, why would you settle for anything less? Learn more...

Using the pro-level USB keys

To use the X-Plane Pro USB keys (applicable to a level 2, 3, and 4 simulator), users will need to download and install the HASP USB key driver.

What sets X-Plane apart?

It's blade element theory, of course. By breaking down every surface of the airplane and calculating the forces acting on each piece individually, X-Plane delivers the most realistic flight experience available. Learn more...

Try the demo, or get the update

The demo is free, and it's a relatively small download. The updates, too, are free, and their bug fixes and new features make them worth the time it takes to get them. See the Downloads page...

Get the manual

In either PDF or Wiki form, the X-Plane manual can answer many of the questions you may have. See the Support page...

Official X-Plane sites

The X-Plane Wiki

XSquawkBox.net: The X-Plane Scenery Development page

Scenery Development: The X-Plane scenery development page on the Wiki

The X-Plane SDK: "Plug-In Headquarters"

X-Plane Airport and Navigation Data: The source for data updates and designer information.