Helicopter operators unable to afford training using full-flight simulators have been offered an alternative claimed to be cheaper.

UK-based Bond Air Services is eliminating up to 100% of air time for certain types of helicopter pilot licence endorsement training by using a high-fidelity, low-cost, Level 3 flight-training device (FTD). This would normally require a full-flight simulator (FFS), but the UK Civil Aviation Authority has ruled that Bond’s unique, recently certificated FTD can fulfil almost all the European JAR-STD requirements for a fraction of the price of FFS or airborne training.

Licence endorsements for which the full-motion, full-visual CueSim-built Eurocopter EC135 FTD wins 100% credit – meaning no actual flying is required – is a licence proficiency or operator proficiency check, pilot recency check, multi-crew co-operation, and type rating examiner courses. Meanwhile, the FTD can win a 75% credit for an EC135 type conversion course, 80% for an initial instrument rating course on the Eurocopter, and up to 75% for a type rating instructor course. So far Bond’s device remains the only flight-navigation procedure trainer (FNPT 3) of its type.

Bond’s head of flight operations Merrick Forsyth says the company is now working with CueSim – a subsidiary of UK-based systems research and development company Qinetiq – to develop additional capabilities for helicopter pilot training.

These include the ability to train pilots in flying with night-vision imaging systems including night- vision goggles, and expanding the three-dimensional visual display terrain database so as to be able to carry out line-orientated flight training in the “environment” in which the pilot will really be operating.

The main reason that the FTD cannot legally be graded an FFS is that, although its flight and engine instruments are identical in appearance and performance to the real instruments, the instrument panel is produced by backlighting on a single display panel. An FFS has, legally, to use the actual instruments.

Forsyth explains, however, that the CAA worked with CueSim and Bond during the development of the FTD and was so impressed by its fidelity and its potential for improving helicopter pilot training affordably that, at certification late last year, it approved credits never achieved before except by FFSs.

CueSim’s principle is to create its simulators using commercial off-the-shelf hardware and to write the software itself. So far it has only written software for the EC135, but using much of the same hardware it intends to create FTDs for other types.

Source: Flight International