VRM Switzerland delivers first Airbus H125 VR training device in US

VRM Switzerland Press Release | March 6, 2022

Estimated reading time 5 minutes, 58 seconds.

The world-leading virtual reality helicopter training device manufacturer VRM Switzerland is delivering its training device to Colorado Highland Helicopters (CHH). The Durango, Colorado-based helicopter operator and flight school ordered an Airbus H125 simulator to offer basic flight training, mountain flying and special operations like external sling load instruction. CHH intends to qualify the device as first VR FSTD under Federal Aviation Administration regulations.

Once a pilot dons the VR headset, they dive into a fully immersive training environment. VRM Switzerland Photo

From the Robinson R22 to an Airbus H125 FSTD

VRM Switzerland presented its Robinson R22 simulator at previous HAI Heli Expos. “This year the helicopter community has the opportunity to explore our latest development, the Airbus H125 FSTD just next to the Airbus Helicopters booth at HAI Heli Expo 2022,” says Fabi Riesen, CEO and co-founder of VRM Switzerland. “During the past year, our engineers refined the training solution to a high standard machine allowing training very close to reality. The strength is a never seen accuracy in simulating the flight behavior of the helicopter, in maneuvers in general and especially close to ground. H125 rated pilots can operate and fly our device without any adaptation time,” he adds.

Leading-edge technology to enhance flight safety

“Once the pilot wears the VR headset, he dives into a fully immersive training environment. The 3D 360° panoramic few allows the execution of realistic scenario-based training as they would be executed in actual flight but this is just one part of the entire system. Just as important is the visualization in high resolution during ground maneuvers, with sun effects like shadow and the highly dynamic platform which allows the pilot to precisely feel the finest changes in attitude and touchdown to the ground. This in combination with a numerical simulation to enable the realistic representation of the flight behavior,” Fabi Riesen underlines. An in-house developed Precise Pose Tracking System allows the pilot to see his hand and body movements in the virtual world. The system requires neither gloves nor additional sensors. A full-scale replica cockpit with all relevant controls gives the pilot haptic feedback when operating knobs, buttons and engine control components. The control load system represents the flight control forces precisely. So, the entire system creates a unique full-body immersion. This has the great advantage that the pilot has exactly the same perceptions as in the real helicopter.

Simulator training at highest level

“The system of VRM Switzerland enables training from the junior pilot up to the most experienced specialist,” says Gerold Biner, CEO and pilot of Air Zermatt. Flight Assistance enables the instructor to recover unwanted flight attitudes or to hand over single controls to the student as it is done during basic training in the real helicopter. Scenario-based training exercises in difficult weather situations during day and night, challenges and improves the pilots single-pilot crew resource management (CRM) skills. Typical use cases are to practice emergency procedures, external sling load instruction, Night Vision Goggle (NVG) training and other special operation exercises requiring an exact reproduction of the reality. “As one of the first customers, we will increase with this FSTD, flight safety by reducing the training and operational costs,” Gerold Biner predicts.

First US customer: Colorado Highland Helicopters

Brandon Laird and Dayle Morningstar Laird of CHC. VRM Switzerland Photo

Colorado Highland Helicopters will receive their H125 training device this spring. “In cooperation with FAA and VRM Switzerland CHH will aid in qualification under Federal Aviation Regulations to apply training credits towards pilot certificates. This will be a significant milestone, qualifying a VR device within the US We are excited to bring this technology to our training,” explains Brandon Laird, owner and chief pilot of Colorado Highland Helicopters.

VRM Switzerland is already working closely together with FAA to enhance qualification methods and standards for rotorcraft FSTD within a United States Helicopter Safety Team (USHST) Safety Enhancement working group. In addition, a goal is to introduce new methods of pilot training by leveraging the onset of new technologies such as virtual reality, to reduce the cost of pilot training and increase its effectiveness within the rotorcraft community.

This press release was prepared and distributed by VRM Switzerland.

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