Helicopter Pilots Training through Flight Simulators. Basic Flying Skills: Hover. Paolo Scaramuzzino

The importance of rotorcraft safety has received significant recognition in recent years. The dramatically larger accident rate for rotary-wing aircraft compared to fixed-wing aircraft was interpreted by the technical community as a call to action. In 2005, the International Helicopter Safety Team (IHST) was established with the ambitious goal of reducing helicopter accident rates by 80% within 10 years. 

The analysis of accident data was the first step to identify the main causes and define priorities in terms of recommended interventions to enhance safety. The analyses carried out by the U.S. Joint Helicopter Safety Analysis Team (JHSAT) and the European Helicopter Safety Analysis Team (EHSAT) both highlight the same issues of concern and the same improvement actions. Training/Instructional interventions were recognized to be of prime interest for rotorcraft safety, since most of the accidents in the data set were the result of pilot-related factors (e.g., pilot judgement and actions, ground duties and pilot situational awareness). The in-depth analysis performed by the U.S. JHSAT pointed out that many efforts need to be dedicated to develop standard training program on autorotation and emergency aircraft handling and to improve simulator training for basic and advanced manoeuvres. 

Thus, pilots training and flight simulators play a crucial role in rotorcraft safety. The combination of simulator and in-flight training is desirable, especially during the training of hazardous scenarios. The variety of conditions that the pilot may face during an emergency situation requires experience and judgement in order to react promptly and avoid many possible types of error. Thus, extensive practice is necessary to acquire robust and flexible piloting skills. Unfortunately, extensive in-flight training of advanced manoeuvres is expensive and risky, and therefore simulator training is the only valid alternative. However, in order to avoid unrealistic training and negative transfer of skills when similar situations are encountered during actual flight, there is the need to bridge the gap between simulator scenarios and reality for edge-of-the-envelope and outside-of-the-envelope flight conditions.

The first part of my research was devoted to assess the effectiveness of a low-fidelity simulator on the initial training of a basic flying task, i.e. hover, using the part-task training program presented in the video. 

The results of this study can be found at the following link: