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For the past two years, Ryan Aerospace (Australia) has been working to address a practical training problem – training helicopter pilots the art of vertical reference and long line operations.
This is the result: the development of highly realistic helicopter simulator control hardware in the form of the HELIMOD Mark III. Following the success of its predecessors, the HELIMOD Mark III has been redesigned from the ground up to offer a new level of realism, sophistication, modularity, robustness and style.
Coupled with a virtual reality headset, the pilot will become fully immersed in the simulated cockpit with the ability to ‘look around the cabin’ 360 degrees.
He or she can literally lean out the side and look down at a slung load or learn the basics of hovering with the ‘head out the window.’
Since the images projected into each of the pilot’s eyes are from slightly different viewpoints, the image is full, 3D stereoscopic which is so important for vertical reference work.
It coincides with the success Ryan Aerospace and Precision Flight Controls (PFC) had at Heli-Expo recently in Las Vegas.
The company said attendees were impressed with the HELIMOD Mark II device and excited about the pending release of the even more capable Mark III.
Managing director Chris Ryan said he was thrilled with the success of the prototype at Heli-Expo and surprised at how few people felt disoriented or dizzy, largely as a result of supplying a super-high-end PC with finely tweaked software.
The simulator is also useful for other applications such as ab-initio hover training, effects of controls, secondary effects of controls and autorotation entries among a myriad of other capabilities.
Ryan Aerospace acknowledges that virtual reality is in its infancy and has its limitations.
For example, the image projected into the pilot’s eyes can be fractionally blurry making it difficult to read some instruments. Further, it’s a little difficult to interact with knobs buttons and switches.
However, according to Ryan, it was best to focus on what “could be done” with virtual reality rather than what “can’t be done,” and this is what lead to the development of the vertical reference trainer.
“When learning to fly vertical reference, it’s all about getting the head out the window and looking down. In this case, you don’t really need to worry so much about the instruments or fiddling with knobs,” he added.
Features and benefits of the HELIMOD Mark III hardware:
- Full immersion in the cockpit with the ability to look around (including directly down for vertical reference / long lining operations);
- Modular and reconfigurable (aircraft-specific modules and controls can easily be added / interchanged);
- USB plug and play. Can be used with a variety of software platforms dependent on the training requirement;
- Robust and deployable. Main frame has durable Rhino Coating with recessed, rugged handles for easy movement. Internal parts over-engineered to withstand the harshest of operating environments;
- Retractable wheel system for easy movement available as an option;
- Small footprint. Can fit in a small office, trailer or shipping container and is portable;
- Package deals with PC, configured software and virtual reality headset available;
- Motion platform available;
- Can also be used with LCD screens or projectors for the out-the-window visuals instead of / as well as the virtual reality headset;
- Excellent backup and support; and
- Shipping worldwide
Features and benefits of virtual reality hardware:
- Fully immersive, 3D stereoscopic visuals;
- Two head-tracking sensors (included in package);
- Cost-effective / affordable; and
- Runs on a super-high-end, fully configured PC.
Units are shipping worldwide right now and can be ordered via Ryan Aerospace in Australia or Precision Flight Controls in the U.S.