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Simulation matches reality

The H145 full-flight simulator (FFS) with simulated Helionix Step 2 avionics suite–all certified by EASA/LBA to Level D–has led to a whole new approach to simulator-based helicopter training. The ADAC HEMS Academy teamed up with German simulator manufacturer Reiser Simulation and Training GmbH (RST) to develop and produce this full-flight simulator to complement the already existing EC135 and EC145 FFSes.

Starting in 2014, ADAC Luftrettung (Air Rescue), the sister organization of the HEMS Academy and one of the major helicopter emergency medical service (HEMS) operators in Europe, began replacing its legacy BK117B-2s with Airbus Helicopters H145s. The new H145 fleet represents a significant advancement, most notably in the incorporation of the Helionix avionics suite.

The mission experience of ADAC Air Rescue, which currently operates 14 H145 and 37 EC135 helicopters, has translated into the safety-oriented development of the H145 FFS at the HEMS Academy. ADAC Air Rescue has established considerable expertise and a respected record for safely flying HEMS missions during more than 45 years of operation. In 2018 alone, ADAC Air Rescue flew more than 55,000 rescue missions.

The HEMS Academy is committed to providing the highest level of simulation with the H145 Level D FFS. This simulator incorporates the best fidelity and represents as much of a step forward in synthetic training as the new aircraft did in the air. It provides a level of fidelity in the scenarios and the environmental system that was, at the time, not previously available.

“The latest technologies and the highest degree of customization were paramount in order to enhance the quality of the training for our own pilots, and national and international customers,” says Thomas Gassmann, director of business development at the HEMS Academy.

“We keep our ´finger on the pulse´ of the operation. As an experienced helicopter pilot, I am convinced that flight training in a simulated environment, performed by skilled instructors, significantly improves training benefits and efficiency, while avoiding training risks involved in helicopter operations.”

A success story begins

All simulators rely on a flight data model that makes the simulator seem like the real flying experience. While aircraft manufacturers traditionally develop the flight data model, a rigorous flight test program was set up by RST’s Flight Systems business unit to generate mission-specific flight data models for a new generation of full-flight simulators.

The levels of flight simulation fidelity incorporate a vast array of criteria that must be met within narrow tolerances to achieve Level D certification. However, at least as much effort was poured into creating a system specified to meet the requirements of the ADAC HEMS Academy’s training philosophy: a whole mission, whole crew approach.

“Our training has to adjust to the constantly changing demands of new, smart technology, without losing sight of the fact that aviators still need traditional aeronautical knowledge and skills,” says Thomas Hütsch, chief executive officer of the HEMS Academy. “The new H145 FFS allows the instructor to create more complex compound malfunction scenarios that more closely mirror the progression of real-world emergencies.”

The projector system generates the simulator’s field of view of 240 by 80 degrees. The resolution and graphic fidelity of the simulator allow for profound visual reference that provides unprecedented immersion. Additionally, visual and infrared images can be projected simultaneously, enabling proper NVIS (night vision imaging system) techniques to be taught and practiced. Pilots can use the night vision goggles they use in real-life operations.

H145 operators that have used the simulator noted that the visual system was the best they’ve ever worked with.

“Reiser Simulation and Training has helped the aviation industry to bridge the gap between reality and imagination, and train its pilots in high-quality replicated scenarios and equipment without compromising the output,” says Dr. Roman Sperl, RST’s CEO.

“Our offerings improve skills in cockpit procedure trainers, flight training devices and full-flight simulators for pilots, as well as assisting technicians with the repair and maintenance of the aircraft itself,” says Sperl. “We deliver systems that are being used in the most challenging environments. Pilot training is most important for safety, and we want to be part of their development.”

An avionic desktop trainer (ADT) built by RST is being used to supplement the H145 FFS and prepare students for the simulator. The ADT uses touchscreens to replicate the avionics and aircraft systems to assist in learning procedures. Simultaneously displaying system diagrams and detailed 3D models of components clearly illustrate the complex interrelationship between systems during various phases of aircraft operation. Equipped with software that is fully derived from the FFS, the ADT allows both self- and aided instruction up to Difference Level C.

The Academy’s external clients range from offshore and VIP, to police and parapublic operators from more than 30 countries. Their pilots are well-served by the Academy’s facilities, with type ratings, differentials, IFR (instrument flight rules), NVIS and IIMC (inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions) training offered for H135, EC145 and H145 operators worldwide, independent of their mission background.

The emphasis of the simulator training at the HEMS Academy is on the mission, rather than flying techniques. “Our aim is not to train procedures only,” says Thomas Hütsch, “but to rehearse situations, let the trainee make mistakes safely, to learn and hereby to create resilient pilots.”

“This ground-breaking H145 simulator at the highest possible standard is a result of being constantly challenged by our customers’ mission requirements,” concludes Dr. Roman Sperl. “Our success has only been made possible through the great teamwork of our professional teams!”

Heli Tech Insight Magazine 2019

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