The NATO degraded visual environment (DVE) trials were held in the interest of technology and knowledge sharing, across international borders, on solutions specifically designed to improve safety and mitigate risk for both pilots and helicopters.
Australia and NATO committed to strengthening their relationship in 2012 in a joint political declaration. As such, this technology could be shared with Australia and NATO's other partners across the globe.
Held at Älggialp, Switzerland, the NATO trials focused on DVE caused specifically by snow, or whiteout conditions. The Swiss DVE whiteout trials operated out of the Swiss Air Force helicopter base in Alpnach, Switzerland, where RUAG Aviation also maintains an independent Center of Excellence for helicopter maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO). The DVE trials ran from 20-23 February 2017.
RUAG Aviation became a key player in the NATO whiteout trials, integrating the pilot assistance and helicopter safety system in use during the event into the EC635 platform belonging to the Swiss Air Force. This helicopter acts as a capability demonstrator and will be used for further live tests. The Sferion-based solution – initially developed by Airbus DS Electronics & Border Security GmbH – is specifically configured to be integrated into any helicopter platform.
Team leader commercial helicopter services at RUAG Aviation Claudio Zeiter praised the company's efforts and its contributions to the NATO exercise and the international community.
"Amid prototypes and various research projects, this integration showcased the vast and thorough helicopter systems and engineering expertise amassed by RUAG Aviation from our continuing work on behalf of the Swiss and German air forces, as well as for helicopter emergency services and civil operators," Zeiter said.
"We are pleased to have been able to make such a significant contribution to these DVE whiteout trials and allow the international community to experience precisely how systems and technologies can interact to provide improved visualisation and enhanced safety for both pilot and machine during DVE conditions."
DVE is widely recognised as a significant issue, concerning the entire helicopter community, public and private.
It is one of the pressing issues that RUAG Aviation aims to address in its function as an independent aircraft services provider and systems integrator for military and civil operators worldwide.