Inside the CCG 412 EPI
July 14, 2016 By Rick Adams
When it is deployed in early 2018 to the Transport Canada training centre in Ottawa, the new flight simulator for the Canadian Coast Guard (CCG) Bell 412 EPI and Bell 429 helicopters may be the most technologically advanced non-military rotary-wing training system in the world.
The Level D training system is in development at CAE’s manufacturing facility in Saint-Laurent, Que., near Montreal’s Trudeau airport, and incorporates the company’s core Series 3000 helicopter simulator technology. There will be separate cockpits for each Bell model, alternately mounted (roll on/roll off) on a common visual system/motion base “docking station.” The cockpit not on station can function as a flight-training device.
What will set the Coast Guard simulator apart are the extended visual system and level of database realism, especially for scenarios in extreme sea states. The 12-foot direct-display dome will provide a 220-degree horizontal by 88-degree vertical field-of-view (FOV), well beyond the more typical 60 degrees of today’s fielded devices. The vertical FOV will be extended below the cockpit doors for slingload operations as much as 120 feet under the aircraft, and chin window mirrors will get their own dedicated 4.1 megapixel visual channels to show the cargo hook and load directly below the simulated aircraft.
The CCG requirements call for allowing the pilot “to see downwards in front of the aircraft while completing the reconnaissance of the area as well as upwards during approach and departure to confined areas.”
During shipboard operations, the Coast Guard wants the “entire range of wind and weather phenomena . . . including high winds, snow, rain, and fog” and for arctic/winter offshore operations snow, blowing snow, and icing conditions. “Ice can form on the helideck and ship structures during conditions of high wind and sea states and it is important to simulate these effects,” the CCG explained.
CAE vice-president and general manager of CAE Canada defence and security, Mike Greenley, said the visualization of waves and wave-wind interactions, such as whitecaps, wind lines, and spindrift (blowing spray) provide important cues to both pilots and winch operators. “Hovering close to the water, taking visual cues from the water and a ship that’s bobbing while trying to pluck a load from that water, correlated with the physics-based modeling, the fidelity and accuracy will provide a level of realism we haven’t achieved previously,” he said. “It’s pushing us to a new limit in terms of the fidelity of those interactions.”
Database features will include ship models of icebreakers, cargo ships, tankers, tugboats, and commercial fishing vessels with detail such as portholes, antennae, flags, cranes, life boats, navigation lights, and beacons. In land areas, there will be urban towns with buildings, streets, traffic lights, wire hazards, remote fuel caches, helipads, and the Coast Guard’s 16×16-foot wooden landing pads set on uneven and sloped surfaces. Along simulated shorelines, CCG light stations will be modeled with functioning rotating or flashing lights. There will even be iceberg movement and ice-breaking effects. There are also Canadian geese and seagulls (for bird strike training).
Canada, of course, has the world’s longest coastline as well as two million lakes and rivers, including the four Great Lakes, and the world’s longest inland waterway, the St. Lawrence. The Canada-wide Common Database (CDB), will be sharable with other Canadian Forces training programs, and will feature most Canadian airports. In addition, the Coast Guard is getting five high-definition, 50×50 km operational training areas (OTAs), each with an airport – coastal, including Bella Bella Campbell Island Airport (CBBC); offshore with St. John’s International Airport (CYYT); mountain, Sandspit Airport (CYZP); onshore, Quebec City, Jean Lesage International Airport (CYQB); and arctic, Resolute Bay Airport (CYUT).
Although the Coast Guard is not part of Canadian defence forces, Greenley said, “The computer-generated forces are more on the military side with complex, multiplayer interactions such as landing on ships and search-and-rescue scenarios.” The simulator will also incorporate night vision goggle training capability
Rick Adams is chief perspectives officer of AeroPerspectives, an aviation communications consultancy in the south of France, and is editor of ICAO Journal.
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