First full motion helicopter simulator for SA - Mark Mansfield reports
EUROCOPTER SOUTHERN Africa recently launched Africa’s first full-motion helicopter flight simulator located at the SimAero training centre adjacent to the O.R. Tambo International Airport. Almost simultaneously, the parent company and Héli-Union, a leading French civil helicopter operator, inaugurated a new simulator for the Dauphin AS365 N3/N3+ developed and built in partnership with Thales. This is now operational at Héli-Union’s training centre in Angoulême, in the Charente region of France.
The simulator in South Africa is designed to train pilots and flight engineers operating Super Puma and similarly-compatible helicopters including the South African Air Force’s (SAAF) Oryx helicopter. Héli-Union Training Centre’s simulator has a double qualification: full flight simulator (FFS) Level B and Level 3 flight training device. The objective is to progressively reach a 3 000-hour yearly rate of training for Héli-Union and other civil and military customers.
Speaking at the launch ceremony of the South African simulator, Eurocopter Southern Africa’s CEO, Fabrice Cagnat, said: “We aim to continuously improve and enhance flight safety and crew skills. By placing simulators as close as possible to our customers, we are able to provide training programmes tailored to their specific needs. We are confident that the simulator will add significant value, not just in terms of monetary savings for the SAAF, but in real terms, measured in terms of peoples’ lives are saved. We have already received a strong interest from operators in Africa and also from other part of the world,” he added.
Colonel Hardus Engelbrecht, acting director Helicopter Systems in the SAAF.
By using a full-motion flight simulator, crew are able to refine their skills by training for all conceivable emergencies and mission scenarios, including some which would be too dangerous or not permissible to attempt during training flights on actual helicopters. “For the SAAF, our focus is on providing the highest level of professional aircrew skills,” said Colonel Hardus Engelbrecht, acting director Helicopter Systems in the SAAF. “The simulator uses a combination of factors to achieve a level of realism that allows trainees to forget that they are in a training device but think they are in a real aircraft. These are primarily a combination of accurate movements driven by hydraulic jacks that push, pull and tilt a replica helicopter cockpit, against which, imagery of any chosen environment is projected. “We will also benefit financially through the substantial savings that will be generated by not having to send crews to Europe for simulator training and all of the associated costs. At the end of the day, training on a locally-based simulator will deliver a much bigger bang for our limited buck,” he said.
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