A new simulator to meet a demanding training need. Walter F. Ullrich writes.

When, in 2014, ADAC Luftrettung GmbH, (ADAC ‘Air Rescue’) introduced the Airbus helicopter H145 for helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS), it was apparent there was a need to upgrade training facilities to meet the capabilities of the aircraft.

The fourteen H145, which the ADAC is currently operating, meet the strictest safety, noise and performance requirements; they are fit for night flying and have many uses, from high mountains, to off-shore, to densely built-up areas. In a word, they are perfectly fit for EMS (Emergency Medical Services) aviation. Correspondingly complex and demanding, however, is training.

In order to meet the high demands placed on HEMS training, the ADAC HEMS Academy (AHA) and Reiser Simulation and Training (RST), Germany, have jointly developed an innovative H145 Level D Full Flight Simulator (FFS), which went into operation on January 10, 2018.

“We chose the highest level because our customers consider it important to train on a level D simulator,” says Thomas Gassmann, Head of Business Development and Sales. “ The level discussion is a pure technical one, the better approach would be to focus on training needs and capabilities,” Gassmann adds. Hardly anything else could better illustrate the importance that private and government customers place on high fidelity EMS helicopter training.

It soon became clear that the original flight data of the aircraft would not be available. Therefore, the flight model of the H145 had to be created from dedicated flight test data generated by the RTS Flight Data Acquisition division in a several-week flight campaign.

For the H145 FFS a dome was designed that was large enough to allow - at a later stage - simultaneous training of the rear cabin crew. The layout also supports fast roll-on/roll-off, which means the H145 cockpit could be replaced easily by other types, e.g. the H135. The Airbus Helicopter H135 is the latest version of the EC135 series, and is being introduced by ADAC Luftrettung. The dome display has a field of view of 240°x80°. This allows sight through the chin windows for better visual clues during landing, as well as sufficient up- and side-view to simulate take-offs even from narrow street canyons.

 H145 FFS dome supports fast roll-on/roll-off of the cockpit
The H145 FFS dome supports fast roll-on/roll-off of the cockpit, and is large enough for simultaneous training of the rear cabin crew.
Image credit: AHA/Christoph Papsch.

Visual systems employed in a run around the clock environment must be extremely durable, adjustable and flexible, too. Barco´s state-of-the-art setup offers exactly these characteristics. In fact, it uses the Barco FS35 IR dual-channel, high-definition LED projectors, which figure amongst the best on the market. Using the 2nd generation ReaLED illumination technology, they provide excellent infrared (IR) capabilities, compatible with almost all night vision goggles. They also offer an exceptionally large dynamic brightness range, fully adjustable on the RGB and IR LEDs, featuring a seamless transition from day- to night-time training. For Gassmann, the ability to display visual and infrared images at the same time represents one of the greatest advantages of the new simulator. “There is a high demand for night flight simulation,” he says. “Night flying exercises are actually limited to winter time because of the earlier sunset,” he explains. “In addition, night-time training activities are severely restricted by noise protection regulations.”

Quantum3D contributes the IDX 8000 image generator (IG) that provides super high-resolution and supports 4K x 2K projectors with no additional effort. The IG uses the MANTIS (Multispectral Adaptive Imaging System) software – Quantum3D's solution for real-time visual simulation. The company also provides the Terrain 3D Database, which is based on the Open Street Map (OSM) system. The worldwide database with selected high-resolution areas contains 25,000 airports and Computer Generated Forces (CGF) for air, land and sea applications. For the H145 simulator, Germany as a whole is reproduced in high fidelity, mostly geo-typical. Important landmarks such as the Cologne Cathedral, or places of particular interest – for instance permanent landing sites at hospitals - are rendered geo-specifically. The user can also edit and enhance the generically created overlay by adapting buildings and other surface elements to the real look.

The simulator is moved by an electric 6-DoF (Degrees of Freedom) motion and vibration system developed by the Dutch company Moog. To support the 12-ton apparatus, the foundation in the training hangar in Bonn-Hangelar even had to be reinforced.

For monitoring and controlling, the H145 simulator employs an intuitive on-board Instructor Operating Station (IOS), as well as sophisticated briefing and debriefing stations. CGF, replicating realistic people, crowds, ambulances, accident situations and complex HEMS environments, can be inserted into the scenario by the instructor, depending on the training goals and the course of the exercise. This allows the system to virtually display a rather complex outside world, which could otherwise only be represented with real players in costly live exercises. “The CGF immerses exercise participants much deeper into the simulation – a true asset!” says Thomas Gassmann.

According to Frank Thieser, CEO of Reiser Training Services (RTS), the company is providing the H145 simulator under a 15 years services contract to AHA. He added that this simulator does not only exceed the contracted training requirements, but it also has one of the lowest power consumption rate and easiest maintenance approach on the market.

A truly good deal for a 12 million euros investment, which, in the words of the ADAC, “sets a new standard in the world of helicopter simulation”.

Originally published in MS&T Issue 2 2018.