VRM Switzerland developing state-of-the-art solutions for helicopter pilot training

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 37 seconds.

VRM Switzerland develops and builds training solutions for helicopters at the highest technological level. Helicopter operators and ATOs have already implemented new training concepts to save costs, be more efficient and environmentally friendly. The spectrum of helicopter training on simulators is thus greatly expanded. VRM Switzerland has allocated resources to deliver and commission 15 training solutions in 2021 for innovative ATOs. 

High-Tech, Made in Switzerland

VRM Switzerland is a passionate team of 30 innovative engineers, highly specialized developers and dedicated aviation experts. All mechanical constructions and electronic circuits are designed and coordinated in-house. The simulation software is developed in a technology partnership and integrated into the system. A numerical simulation enables a realistic representation of the flight behavior. Furthermore, the software is optimized for VR displays. This networked in-house solution achieves an extremely high precision of the overall system. A further strength of the team is the proximity to flight schools and operators. This enables the development of mature training solutions with optimal benefits.

Immersion at its best, flying like real

Virtual reality technology opens up completely new possibilities in the simulation of helicopters.  “The three- dimensional panoramic view and the high resolution of the scenery as well as the true-to-original construction of the cockpit components give the pilot the feeling of sitting in a real helicopter,” says Christian Marty, who is responsible for the technical implementation.

The highly dynamic platform lets the pilot feel the slightest twitch of the helicopter. “I feel every single movement of the helicopter. When taking off and landing, you can feel exactly where the skids touch the ground,” comments Andreas Gafner, himselfa helicopter examiner. A vibration actuator simulates the oscillations of the helicopter. Fabi Riesen, CEO of VRM Switzerland, explains: “With our technologies, we can give the pilot a feeling of flight that was previously not possible using simulators. Even emergency procedures and situations that cannot be flown in the real helicopter for safety reasons can be practiced on our training solution. How critical a tail rotor failure is in forward and hovering flight only becomes obvious to many pilots after they have flown this on our simulator.”

Helicopter Virtual Reality Competence Center Switzerland

Together with the Eastern Switzerland University of Applied Sciences Rapperswil, VRM Switzerland has developed a high level of expertise in the field of VR. One of the results is probably the world’s first pose-recognition solution that allows a cockpit in the virtual world to be operated with VR glasses at high speed and with the necessary precision. All relevant control elements also feel like in a real helicopter. Even shadow effects are displayed when the sun is shining. The Center for Aviation (ZAV) at the ZHAW has also chosen the high- quality simulator from VRM Switzer- land. The university will use the device for research purposes. Air Zermatt, Mountain Flyers and the Heli-Academy are already using the training device successfully. The helicopter manufacturer Kopter has also opted for this training solution.

The VRM inhouse development “Pose Recognition” allows the familiar handling in the cockpit without any additional tools. 

Global cooperation

Various authorities and organizations have recognized the possibilities of the VRM Switzerland product. This has resulted in various worldwide projects. Most of them pursue the goal of increasing flight safety. This includes a project in cooperation with EASA on the use of virtual reality simulators for flight training.

From hover flight and emergency training to special operations

Flight Assistance, developed in-house by VRM Switzerland, supports the instructor in teaching hovering. Various system errors and flight behavior are simulated realistically. This allows the demonstration of critical flight phases such as low-G, vortex ring state, tail rotor malfunctions including «unanticipated yaw». Flying in poor visibility, strong wind and in turbulence can be perfectly simulated. In this way, the pilot’s competencies can be specifically trained.

Another possibility is the training of sling load operation, this with mirror and vertical reference technique. Many pilots who test the simulator are enthusiastic about the realistic reproduction of flying at night. “We have replicated landing lights, airport lighting, lights of streets and villages and starry skies, with great attention to detail,” raves Riesen.

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