In-development Heli Trainer designed for low-cost training

 - September 21, 2010, 9:53 AM

Germany-based operator Heli Aviation is developing the Heli Trainer, a new kind of simulator for ab initio helicopter pilot training. The device, which uses a real helicopter forward fuselage attached to a moving robotic arm, is designed for better movement fidelity and less expensive operation than traditional sims. Heli Aviation is working with robot specialist Kuka Roboter and the Max Planck Institute for Biological Cybernetics to have the simulator enter service
in 2012.

The first flight hours of a helicopter pilot’s training are particularly intense and hazardous, according to Heli Aviation, with the student pilot spending about 20 hours hovering. The designers of the Heli Trainer believe it makes sense to spend this time in the safety of a simulator.

With the Heli Trainer, a pilot trainee will require less time to develop a feel for control movements, better understand the consequences of his actions and learn maneuvers in a safe environment, according to the company.
The student pilot in the Heli Trainer will not need a lot of exterior cues–just the horizon, so the sim can be installed in a hangar, without the usual (and expensive) displays that simulate the exterior world. The spokesman said the simulator will cost close to €500,000 ($630,000) and its cost per hour will be lower than that of an actual helicopter.

Unconventional Platform
The actual fuselage part of the Heli Trainer is that of a Guimbal Cabri two-seater. Heli Aviation’s training organization is about to take delivery of its second Cabri. At €264,000 ($330,000), the actual aircraft sells for about half the anticipated price of the Heli Trainer.

The Kuka robot is a heavy-duty KR 500 TÜV with six axes of motion and the capacity to carry 1,100 pounds. Thanks to its original design, the robot offers a greater range of motion and acceleration than conventional platforms, Heli Aviation claims. As an option, a linear traversing axis can be added to the robot to simulate landing and takeoff more realistically.

Heli Aviation currently has no schedule for certifying its simulator, but the spokesman estimated this could be achieved one or two years after entry into service, planned for the spring of 2012. 

AS350 Sim Coming Online for Law Enforcement

American Eurocopter’s new AS350 flight and mission simulator will give law-enforcement crews the opportunity to conduct crew resource management training in real-world exercises, including patrol, vehicle and foot pursuits, homeland security and airborne use of force.

The first-of-its-kind simulator will become operational in the fourth quarter at American Eurocopter’s training center in Grand Prairie, Texas, and was developed by the company with assistance from Indra Systems, the same company that developed the EC135 level B simulator and the EC145 level 4 simulator currently in operation at Grand Prairie.

The new simulator will allow pilots and tactical flight officers or observers to train together and has been selected for the Airborne Law Enforcement Association’s Advanced Tactical Flight Officer training course that will be presented by ALEA staff at the Eurocopter training center. The simulator will contain a tactical flight officer suite as well as a cockpit and cabin. The full-motion AS350 simulator was designed with input from American Eurocopter’s law enforcement customers, including unit commanders, pilots, tactical flight officers and tactical team members.

“This was a unique opportunity for us to use one of the most advanced, full-motion flight simulators on the market,” said Martin Jackson, ALEA president. “This will allow us to bring real-world training to our course for the entire crew.”

• Eurocopter has contracted Thales to provide a second flight simulator for its AS365 N3 ­Dauphin. The new unit will be operational in 2012 at Eurocopter’s southeast Asia facility in Singapore. It will be approved by European and U.S. authorities to meet Level 3 requirements for a flight-training device and Level B standards as a full-flight simulator.

The new simulator will feature an electric cabin motion platform and a dome-mounted direct-projection visual system with wide field of view, combined with geospecific imagery from the ThalesView image generator. The first N3 Dauphin simulator has already been delivered to French flight-training organization Heli-Union.–M.H., C.A.