Uses the World’s First Airbus H125 Vr Simulator

Uses the World’s First Airbus H125 Vr Simulator

Norway’s largest domestic helicopter operator, Helitrans, has, following European and Norwegian approval, put into use the very first Airbus VR simulator of its kind.

After a long and extensive process, the Norwegian Aviation Authority has given the thumbs up for the first pilots in Helitrans to carry out training and certificate renewal in an Airbus VR simulator. Norway is the first country in the world to formally approve the use of this type of VR simulator.

– This is an important milestone for Helitrans and all the other domestic helicopter operators, says CEO of Helitrans, Ole Christian Melhus. – Helitrans has long worked with the manufacturer, VRM Switzerland, to develop the VR simulator according to our requirements and needs, as well as getting it approved by EASA, the European Aviation Authority and the Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority. It has been a long process, and now we are incredibly happy that this has come to an end.

The market for inland helicopter services almost exclusively uses helicopters of the Airbus H125 type. With its high lifting capacity, flexibility and easy navigation, it has become the workhorse in the industry. The VR simulator has therefore been specifically developed for this type of helicopter.

– The entire team involved at Helitrans, Norway’s largest domestic helicopter operator, is proud to be the first company in the world to operate an approved VR based FTD Level 3 Airbus H125 simulator. The approval from EASA and the Norwegian Aviation Authority confirms our decision to invest in this new technology, which will be decisive for increasing the safety level and, not least, bringing the helicopter industry’s training level closer to heavy aviation through the use of a simulator, says Ole Christian Melhus, managing director of Helitrans.

Melhus comes from heavy aviation and has first-hand knowledge of the effects of safety-focused and structured simulator training. He has therefore been driving the use of simulator training, and is certain that the inland helicopter segment has a lot to gain from using this technology.

– We are proud to be part of a paradigm shift and the innovative and sophisticated training concept VRM Switzerland is now launching, through high-resolution 3D graphics with its 360-degree visual approach combined with realistic movements of the simulator. This makes it possible for us and other helicopter operators to build a strong training and safety culture, and not least to reduce the incident and accident rate in the industry, adds Ole Christian Melhus.

As of 2022, the requirements for training and certificate renewal among inland helicopter pilots have been changed, where annual training and a certificate test on a simulator are now required.

The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority has followed the development and qualification process of the new VR-based simulator.

– The Norwegian Civil Aviation Authority considers the Airbus simulator to be a good tool for increasing safety among helicopter pilots and for building a robust safety culture, says aviation director Lars Kobberstad.

The approval in Norway is also well received by the manufacturer in Switzerland.

– For VRM Switzerland, it is unique to help facilitate flight schools and helicopter operators to be able to train and carry out qualifications on a VR-based helicopter simulator. Our technology gives the pilot a realistic feeling of being in a real helicopter. Procedures and emergency procedures can be trained realistically and without risk, even situations that cannot be trained in a real helicopter, says Fabi Riesen, CEO of VRM Switzerland.

Generate complex VR graphics

Helitrans’ pilots work on advanced missions such as the installation of masts and lines in the power industry, slingshot missions, which require a high degree of accuracy. Such customers place the highest demands on training and qualification before pilots can work for them. Many of the tasks are difficult to train in a helicopter and therefore require simulator training.

– In the past, we have hired conventional helicopter simulators abroad at high hourly rates. With this new technological platform, I foresee a unique opportunity to train on our twelve special helicopter operations such as underhanging cargo, landing on ships, firefighting, and more, in a larger and more realistic 360-degree environment, says Melhus.

Traditional airplane and helicopter simulators mimic the cockpit of the specific machine they are simulating and use large screens that replace the windows and show the surroundings. The new VR simulator is built completely differently.

The screens have been replaced with VR glasses connected to a powerful computer that produces advanced 3d graphics, not only of the surroundings, but also of the interior and the dashboard with all the instruments. The VR glasses’ update is synchronized with the pilot’s head movements so that everything should feel natural. Even the pilot’s hands controlling the instruments are visualized in the VR glasses so that the experience will be as accurate and realistic as possible.

The device where the pilot sits is mounted on an electrically controlled, mechanical platform that moves with the virtual helicopter and gives the pilot a realistic feeling of the movements the helicopter makes.

– What modern technology has achieved on this front is simply fantastic, says Melhus. – The realism of the new simulator surpasses the traditional simulators by a long way with its 360-degree visual approach, and we have received great interest in the simulator from other companies. All operators will be welcome!

In addition to the realism of the new simulators, this is not just a flight simulator where you fly from A to B and practice emergency procedures.

– VRM Switzerland has put an enormous amount of work into creating realistic training plans that are adapted to different mission types, such as cargo flying with under-hung cargo, mast assembly, firefighting, and a number of complex manoeuvres. As of today, there are no other simulators that can offer this form of simulator training or realism with its 360-degree visual approach, says Melhus

The world’s first mobile approved Airbus simulator

Helitrans has already used the VR simulator internally for its own pilots, but will also rent it out to other operators.

– At Helitrans, we are extremely concerned about flight safety, not just for our own pilots, but for the entire industry. This simulator moves flight safety in the domestic segment a quantum leap forward, and it is therefore important to us that the entire industry can benefit from this technology through a local presence in Norway, says Melhus.

Helitrans has invested in two Airbus H125 simulators, one is located at CAE’s training and simulator center at Gardemoen, together with the other flight simulators there, while the other is mounted in a mobile device that can be moved as needed. This gives great flexibility both for your own needs and those of others.

– Instead of sending the pilots to helicopter simulators abroad, we can now carry out the training outside in the rural areas, where the pilots are located. This will be positive for all involved, as we simultaneously ensure a good possibility of implementation combined with reduced costs, concludes Ole Christian Melhus.

Both simulators will form part of Helitrans’ new flight and helicopter school, established as a subsidiary, under the name Scandinavian Aerospace Academy AS. The simulators will be available to all operators where bookings will be opened from 1 July 2022.