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Queensland company develops VR technology for pilots

Australia’s Ryan Aerospace has developed helicopter simulator control hardware to help train pilots in the art of vertical reference and long line operations.

After two years of research on the new hardware, HELIMOD Mark III, Ryan Aerospace said it has been redesigned from its predecessors and includes a new level of realism, sophistication, modularity, robustness and style.

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Coupled with a virtual reality headset, the pilot will become fully immersed in the simulated cockpit with the ability to "look around the cabin" in 360 degrees, allowing the pilots to literally lean out the side and look down at a slung load or learn the basics of hovering with their "head out the window".

Since the images projected into each of the pilot’s eyes are from slightly different viewpoints, the image is full, 3D stereoscopic.

The simulator is also useful for other applications such as ab initio hover training, effects of controls, secondary effects of controls and auto-rotation entries, among myriad other capabilities.

Ryan Aerospace said virtual reality is still in its infancy and has its limitations, for example the image projected into the pilot’s eyes can be fractionally blurry making it difficult to read some instruments. But managing director Chris Ryan said it was best to focus on what "could be done" with virtual reality rather than what "can’t be done", and this is what lead to the development of the vertical reference trainer.

"When learning to fly vertical reference, it’s all about getting the head out the window and looking down. In this case, you don’t really need to worry so much about the instruments or fiddling with knobs," Ryan said.

The release of HELIMOD Mark III coincides with Ryan Aerospace and Precision Flight Controls' exhibit at the recent Heli-Expo in Las Vegas.

Queensland company develops VR technology for pilots
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