Navigraph Releases Flight Sim Survey Results


Navigraph has published the results of its FlightSim Community Survey 2017 conducted between 20th October and 6th of November.  This year 3,187 respondents participated, which is an improvement over last year’s 2,200.

Notable observations in the survey depends on the reader, but in general the average flight simmer is a 47-year-old male living in the US, working full time, with an average of 16 years of flight simulation experience, flying a Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v.4, mainly out of interest, about five times a week, for a weekly average of 11.5 hours.

Lockheed Martin Prepar3D is now more popular than Microsoft FSX and that Laminar Research X-Plane has doubled in popularity since last year.

This year’s survey was organised according to the following topics:

  • Demographics
  • Relation to aviation
  • Simulator habits
  • Consumption habits
  • Community
  • Misc. product feedback


The average flight simmer is 3 years older on average since last year’s survey.  This year your typical simmer is 47 years old, but last year he was 44. However, as seen from the histogram below, we have a younger generation coming, and a rather noticeable long tail. It seems, however, like flight simulation is not very popular during university studies.

All images copyright Navigraph

On employment.

  • 11.67% are in school, a full or part time student
  • 52.06% are employed full time
  • 21.21% are retired

The 2017 survey respondents live in:

  • United States 23.09% (13.84%)
  • United Kingdom 14.21% (7.66%)
  • Germany 10.83% (9.31%)
  • Canada 4.86% (2.70%)
  • Australia 4.68 (2.37%)

(Percentage of users from the Navigraph user database presented in parentheses.)

Relation to Aviation

28.82% of the respondents answered that they do something relating to aviation such as pilot, instructor, air traffic controller, engineer, software developer, airport operations, dispatcher or cabin crew.

24.25% of the respondents have a pilot licence (PPL, ATPL, CPL, etc).

6.7% are currently enrolled in flight school.

Simulator Habits

Respondents seem to link the start of their simulator career with the launch date of a particular software. Compare this list with the histogram below (the software titles which do not correlate have been stricken trough):

  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D, released in 2011, 6 years ago
  • Laminar Research X-Plane 9, released in 2008, 9 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator X, released in 2006, 11 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2004, released in 2003, 14 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2002, released in 2001, 16 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2000, released in 1999, 18 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 98, released in 1997, 20 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator for Windows 95, released in 1996, 21 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 5.1, released in 1995, 22 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 5.0, released in 1993, 25 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 4.0, released in 1989, 28 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 3.0, released in 1988, 29 years ago
  • Microsoft Flight Simulator 2.0, released in 1984, 33 years ago

Having seen this histogram an average might not make sense, but if someone is interested it happens to be 16 years.

How much do people fly?

The magic number is 5 times per week although there are some who fly as frequently as 7 or even 10 times per week.

When asked how much time you spend in the simulator each week, the average is 11.5 hours. This is two hours longer than reported by the 2016 survey.

Where to people fly?

London Heathrow (EGLL) was voted the most popular departure airport, as well as arrival airport, followed by Amsterdam Schipol (EHAM). Third was London Gatwick (EGKK) as departure and Frankfurt (EDDF) as arrival.

Why do people fly?

  • Entertainment 37.01%
  • Interest 48.06%
  • Training towards a pilot license 6.35%
  • Research or academic education 2.68%

What do people fly?

  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v4 30.75%
  • FSX 23.46%
  • Laminar Research X-Plane 11 19.58%
  • Dovetail Microsoft FSX: Steam Edition 9.73%
  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D v3 6.72%

Last year, Navigraph did not pose the question as detailed. At that time, the responses were the following:

  • Microsoft FSX 60%
  • Lockheed Martin Prepar3D 30%
  • Laminar Research X-plane 10%

X-Plane has grown in popularity during the last year.  Also Lockheed Prepar3D has increased slightly. This becomes very clear looking back at the AVSIM 2013 survey when Microsoft FSX had a strong majority. (Note that Dovetail Microsoft FSX: Steam Edition was released December 18, 2014.)

More than half of the respondents know what VR is, but only 6.77% actually own a VR headset and 3.08% use if for flight simulation.

Consumption Habits

When comparing spending between current 2017 survey and the 2013 AVSIM survey it is hard to tell any trend – mainly because the binning of these histograms are different due to currency. However, there is a notable number of respondents who selected > EUR 200, i.e. > USD 250 per year.


Do people attend conferences? Yes: 20%. No: 80%

The conferences people indicate they will attend in the future are:

  • Flight Sim Show, Cosford, Great Britain
  • FS Weekend, Lelystad, The Netherlands
  • FlightSimCon, Hartford, CT, USA

In addition, 42.99% are members of a virtual airline, while 45.33% never fly online.

79.01% have not contributed to the flight simulation community. 5.90% have developed some software. 4.30% have modelled or painted livery or scenery.  7.64% admin some flight simulator organization.  Many state that they are beta testers or contribute in forums, or help with filing and editing flight plans.

For the full article on the Navigraph website, click here.

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