Aberdeen airport is Europe's busiest heliport. Every day helicopters from various different companies ferry workers to and from oil and gas rigs in the North Sea. The helicopter company Eurocopter has installed a full-size simulator to train pilots and crews that fly out to the rigs. It is the first of its kind in the UK, and Captain John Hopkins from Bond Off Shore Helicopters put it through its paces.
Helicopter firms eye offshore expansion
By Jorn Madslien
Business Reporter, BBC News, Aberdeen
Click on link for article and video BBC Coverage of North Sea Oil Rig
To provide a highly realistic representation of EC225 flight operations, the Aberdeen simulator incorporates an extensive EC225 OEM level D data package from Eurocopter and its suppliers - including real software and parts, ensuring full simulated functionality for the helicopter, its engines, autopilot and all other systems. In addition, all of them are tuned, controlled and validated by the company's design office experts, flight test engineers and flight test pilots that contributed to the EC225 helicopter development, as part of the validation process. This allows any combination between the 264 simulated malfunctions with realistic behaviours.
The Simulator benefits from a full replica of the helicopter's cockpit, including SAR capability and compatibility with night vision goggles; along with a six-degree-of-freedom motion capability and value-added vibration platform for the highest level of representativeness of the simulator.
The EC225 simulator's visual system has a 210-deg. horizontal field-of-view, along with a vertical field range of +30 deg. above the horizon and -50 deg. below the horizon. This allows a highly accurate representation of the landing and takeoff environment at off-shore platforms and ships - whilst also enabling the look-down coverage necessary for search and rescue mission training. Extensive photography of key off-shore helicopter operating locations such as the North Sea's Andrew and Miller platforms, along with the CSSO Wellservicer diving support ship, were taken for integration into the flight simulator's visual system database.
The integrated station for the FLIR (forward-looking infrared) camera used in search and rescue operation offers a further opportunity to reinforce training experience in multi-crew cooperation whilst front and rear crews are fully integrated into the simulation.
Moreover, Eurocopter implemented a high level debriefing station able to replay the training sessions whilst looking at the instruments.