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Avfuel Corporation
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CHH to take advantage of realistic VR training
Colorado Highland Helicopters has ordered a VRM virtual reality helicopter training solution for professional flight training. In April, the first VR FTD in a Robinson R22 configuration was successfully qualified with EASA.
CHH co-owners Brandon Laird and Dayle Morningstar Laird.
Read this story in our August 2021 printed issue.

Colorado Highland Helicopters (CHH), based in Durango, Colorado, has become the first US helicopter operator to order VRM Switzerland's H125 VR training solution. This purchase opens the door for US pilots to improve their competencies on an EASA qualified training concept.

“We have been in contact with VRM Switzerland throughout the development of its product,” says Brandon Laird, owner and chief pilot of Colorado Highland Helicopters. “Since the debut of the prototype and our presentation at Heli-Expo in 2019, I had the opportunity to demo the machine at that time and found it to be profoundly unique. The fidelity of the VR interface and the response of the machine allow for immersion and realism that is unparalleled. A simulator of this quality allows for additional practice of basic manoeuvres, but additionally allows emergency procedure recognition and recovery to a level that is not prudent or possible in an actual aircraft. The unique capability of this machine, however, is the ability to track and quantify the pilot's visual response and reference. This allows new insight into why manoeuvres are successful or unsuccessful and provides empirical data to compare.

“VRM has shown interest in the way CHH operates as an unconventional flight school and the instruction we provide at high altitude in mountainous terrain. We more closely model their existing Swiss partners, Mountain Flyers and Air Zermatt, than our US counterparts. CHH is proud to be partnered with VRM Switzerland as an early customer and is excited for the future of helicopter flight training with VR simulation.”

Colorado Highland Helicopters has ordered a VRM virtual reality helicopter training solution for professional flight training. In April 2021, the first VR flight training device in a Robinson R22 configuration was successfully qualified with EASA. “The version of an Airbus H125 will follow shortly, showing the potential of such training equipment. FAA qualification is being sought in order to also obtain credits for pilot training under Federal Aviation rules,” says Fabi Riesen, CEO of VRM Switzerland.

Laird goes on: “I believe that in the years following the debut of this machine in the industry, helicopter flight training without a product of this type will not be feasible.”

VRM Switzerland’s sophisticated overall system creates full-body immersion. It gives the pilot the feeling of sitting in a real helicopter. The dynamic motion platform allows the pilot to precisely feel the finest changes in attitude and touchdown on the ground. A numerical simulation enables the realistic representation of the flight behaviour. The cockpit is modelled on the real helicopter. The pilot’s movements are displayed in the VR environment, enabling operation of the cockpit including haptic perception. In addition, the software is optimised for VR glasses. This has the great advantage that the pilot has exactly the same visual representation as in the real helicopter, which is unique.

A built-in flight assistance system which supports the flight instructor in guiding student pilots through basic manoeuvres enables training to obtain a private pilot’s licence. A wide range of training options is covered, from commercial pilot training to special operations such as external sling load operation. Various emergency procedures, such as autorotations with landing and tail rotor failure, can be practised safely. The high-resolution 360 degree 3D visual system enables demanding mission training to improve competencies even for highly experienced pilots.

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