Deputy Commander Fleet Air Arm, Captain Grant O’Loughlan, took possession of three Ryan Aerospace virtual reality helicopter simulators earlier this week at an official handover ceremony at HMAS Albatross in Nowra.
The three HELIMOD Mark III simulators will be used by the Fleet Air Arm’s Naval Aviation Prospects Scheme as an engagement tool to attract the interest of aspiring aircrew to join the Royal Australian Navy.
CAPT O’Loughlan said that he was impressed with the new simulators and (coming from a helicopter background) somewhat surprised with how realistic they were.
He added that it was important for the Australian Defence Force to support local entrepreneurial businesses such as Ryan Aerospace. He said these simulator units will be a valuable asset for Navy in supporting Defence Force recruiting.
In addition to the HELIMOD Mark III helicopter simulator units, Ryan Aerospace developed a unique accompanying unit comprising a PC and monitor with integrated cabling and head-tracking sensors.
This allows spectators to see on a display screen what the pilot is seeing in the virtual reality goggles. The display unit has wheels attached and doubles as a shipping crate by being laid down flat, with the HELIMOD device sitting right on top. This allows staff to push the devices easily to the purposely modified van for transportation.
Managing director of Ryan Aerospace Chris Ryan said, "I am delighted to partner with the Navy to develop a bespoke system in conjunction with the highly popular HELIMOD Mark III product launched earlier this year."
HELIMOD Mark III is a virtual reality (VR) head-mounted display that puts the user directly in the pilot's seat of virtually any aircraft. There is a full sense of immersion brought about by the 3D, stereoscopic nature of the VR goggles.
The HELIMOD Mark III enjoys a number of key features and benefits, including:
- Full immersion in the cockpit with the ability to look around (including directly down for vertical reference/long lining operations);
- Modular and reconfigurable (aircraft-specific modules and controls can easily be added/interchanged), including main instrument panels, avionics suites, GPS etc;
- USB "Plug and Play". Can be used with a variety of software platforms dependent on the training requirement;
- Cyclic has force trim function with stick shaker option available;
- Pedals have high quality hydraulic dampening;
- Collective has high quality hydraulic dampening and friction control;
- Main frame has durable Rhino Coating with recessed, rugged handles for easy movement. Internal parts over-engineered to withstand the harshest of operating environments;
- Retractable wheel system for easy movement available as an option;
- Small footprint. Can fit in a small office, trailer or shipping container and is entirely portable;
- Package deals with PC, configured software and virtual reality headset available;
- Motion platform available;
- Adjustable seat and scalable; and
- Can also be used with LCD screens or projectors for the out-the-window visuals instead of/as well as the virtual reality headset.
The pilot has the ability to 'look around' the aircraft and, more importantly, can lean out the side and look directly underneath the helicopter (such as looking down at your slung load). This is perfect for teaching the basics of vertical reference.
The HELIMOD Mark III is portable and deployable making it ideal for small offices, trailers, shipping containers etc. The main base is just 28 inches wide (700 millimetres) and 51 inches long (1,300 millimetres).
Ryan said that in a few weeks, Ryan Aerospace will be participating at the world’s largest military simulation and training event in Orlando, Florida and will be taking two devices. The HELIMOD Mark III has attracted interest from another international navy entity that will be participating in a trial program using the product in December.