Australia-based Ryan Aerospace has announced the impending release of HELIMOD Mark III, a more sophisticated and modular version of the HELIMOD Mark II helicopter simulator control hardware recently exhibited at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas.

HELIMOD Mark III is the result of two years’ work aimed at addressing the problem of training helicopter pilots in the art of vertical reference and long line operations.

The latest version of the product incorporates a virtual reality headset, giving the pilot the ability to take a 360-degree look around the cabin in stereoscopic 3D. Ryan Aerospace says students can literally lean out to the side and look down at a slung load or learn the basics of hovering with their ‘head out the window.’

The company says the simulator is also useful for other applications such as ab-initio hover training, learning the effects of controls, secondary effects of controls and autorotation entries.

Ryan Aerospace acknowledges that virtual reality is in its infancy and has its limitations. For example, the company admits the image projected into the pilot’s eyes can be fractionally blurry, making it difficult to read some instruments. They say it’s a little difficult to interact with knobs buttons and switches.

However, according to Managing Director of Ryan Aerospace, Chris Ryan, it was best to focus on what ‘could be done’ with virtual reality rather than what ‘can’t be done’. “When learning to fly vertical reference, it’s all about getting the head out the window and looking down. In this case, you don’t really need to worry so much about the instruments or fiddling with knobs.”

Units are shipping worldwide and can be ordered via Ryan Aerospace in Australia or Precision Flight Controls in the U.S.