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Captain Grant O’Loughlan, Deputy Commander Fleet Air Arm, Royal Australian Navy, has taken possession of three Ryan Aerospace virtual reality helicopter simulators at an official handover ceremony earlier this week at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, Australia.
The three simulators will be used by the Fleet Air Arm’s Naval Aviation Prospects Scheme as an engagement tool to attract the interest of aspiring aircrew to join the Royal Australian Navy.
Captain O’Loughlan said that he was impressed with the new simulators and (coming from a helicopter background) somewhat surprised with how realistic they were. He added that it was important for the Australian Defence Force to support local entrepreneurial businesses such as Ryan Aerospace. He said these simulator units will be a valuable asset for Navy in supporting Defence Force recruiting.
Managing director of Ryan Aerospace, Chris Ryan said he was “delighted to partner with the Navy to develop a bespoke system in conjunction with the highly popular HELIMOD Mark III product launched earlier this year.” The units take advantage of improved capability of virtual reality technology.
In addition to the HELIMOD Mark III helicopter simulator units, Ryan Aerospace developed a unique accompanying unit comprising a PC and monitor with integrated cabling and head-tracking sensors. This allows spectators to see on a display screen what the pilot is seeing in the virtual reality goggles.
The display unit has wheels attached and doubles as a shipping crate by being laid down flat, with the HELIMOD device sitting right on top. This allows staff to push the devices easily to the purposely modified van for transportation.
The simulators have motion actuators attached to the base and link with the simulation software to provide an even more realistic experience.
It is expected that the simulators will be getting constant use as they travel around the country to various events including the International Air Show at Avalon in February 2019.
The handover ceremony in Nowra earlier this week attracted some significant interest from Captain Fiona Sneath, Commanding Officer HMAS Albatross and Commanding Officers from Fleet Air Arm Squadrons.
Ryan said that in a few weeks, Ryan Aerospace will be participating at the world’s largest military simulation and training event in Orlando, Florida, and will be taking two devices. The HELIMOD Mark III has attracted a great deal of interest from another international Navy entity who will be participating in a trial program using the product in December.