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Analysis: Joined-up helicopter training

15th June 2017 - 10:01 by Helen Haxell in London

It is not a new thing that the use of helicopter simulators have assisted militaries to meet training budgets over the years.

As technology becomes more innovative and helicopter combat operations become more demanding, manufacturers of simulator technologies are fostering their research and development to meet new requirements from the services.

Canadian simulation and training company CAE’s next-generation simulator is the CAE 3000 series. The simulator includes a 12ft dome display and high-fidelity CAE Medallion-6000 image generator.

The technology is able to provide a wide range of missions from shipboard landings to night vision goggle flying. 

CAE Medallion-6000 provides a modular, scalable and portable visual solution designed to satisfy a range of military training needs. (Photo: CAE)

The company has been awarded a long-term training services contract that will allow Brunei to train pilots to fly its 12-strong fleet of S-70i Black Hawk helicopters. OEM of the Black Hawk, Sikorsky, signed a contract with the Brunei MoD for the aircraft in 2011.

The CAE 3000 Series S-70i simulator also features chin window coverage, high resolution projectors, full six degree-of-freedom (DOF) electric motion system and a three-DOF vibration system to provide realistic cues to the pilots.

Regarding the significance of simulator training for military crews, Phil Perey, senior director of global business development at CAE told Shephard how these technologies help the finances.

‘We’ve always been strong proponents of synthetic training - it is part of the solution to addressing reduced budgets. Ultimately an hour spent within a simulator is taking substantial cost out of the operating budget…’

Imagery of the AW101 Merlins in action (Photo: CAE)

Perey explained that the roll-on/roll-off cockpits were providing economical solutions to services which operate few aircraft. The capability allows for different helicopter types to be used in one simulator platform, so there is a common motion system, vibration platform and visual display system that provides flexibility for the cockpit change.

‘There are number of small defence forces out there that want to have a high-fidelity, immersive environment – they don’t really have a fleet size that warrants a dedicated training device… So, if you can roll-on/roll-off another high-fidelity cockpit in a matter of hours, you are effectively providing two high-fidelity training environments for much less the cost of two full flight or full mission trainers,’ commented Perey.

An emerging trend, not just for economical but practical reasons, is the integration of full crew training on board simulators.

This is becoming required as helicopter crews fundamentally seek to have their crews train in a homogenous environment to heighten collaborative operations when applied to the field.

Ultimately an hour spent within a simulator is taking substantial cost out of the operating budget.
CAE's senior director of global business development Phil Perey

Whole crew training is an area that has risen from research at CAE’s Medium Support Helicopter Aircrew Training Facility at RAF Benson in the UK. The centre provides synthetic training for three CH-47 Chinooks, two AW101 Merlins and one Airbus Helicopters Puma.

‘This trend isn’t just about reducing costs, it’s ensuring that crews ultimately train the same way that they go about their mission.

‘We’ve been focused on the pilots but having a rear crew trainer that can network with the front end and have it as one cohesive unit conducting their training missions is extremely valuable from a cost reduction perspective and from a level of mission readiness, and all that fits into that ultimate goal of reduced budgets,’ explained Perey to Shephard.

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