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New Simulation Software Improves Helicopter Pilot Training


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Helicopters in flight.

Researchers have developed simulation software to improve the training of helicopter pilots.

Credit: Hillsboro Aero Academy

Researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) in Germany have developed simulation software to improve training for helicopter pilots via real-time computational analysis of both fluid mechanics and flight dynamics.

TUM engineer Juergen Rauleder says simulators have failed to realistically model flying close to large objects because current programs for simulating wind conditions and equipment response follow a fixed pattern. Rauleder says the new numerical model his team developed "is extremely flexible and does not depend on stored flow data. We only have to enter the external conditions such as topography, global wind speeds, and the helicopter type. During the simulation, our algorithms use that data to continuously compute the interacting flow field at the virtual helicopter's current location."

Rauleder notes the program also exerts the sensation of local air flows on the helicopter to pilots, so they can experience the impact of their control movements in a stress-free environment.

The TUM team has validated its real-time simulation with established reference models. Real-world testing of the virtual models at sea is the next step, via cooperation with researchers at the U.S. Naval Academy, George Washington University, and the University of Maryland.

From Technical University of Munich (Germany)
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