Helicopter Pilots Face Virtual Reality

January 21, 1999

A flight simulator developed at the Naval Postgraduate School in Monterey, Calif., is giving helicopter pilots valuable cockpit time while still on the ground. Although flight simulators are used routinely in training airplane pilots, the same virtual environments are of little use to helo pilots who must master a completely different way of flying. The new helicopter simulator is especially useful in teaching navigation. In a helo's cockpit, at 50 feet above the ground, the view does not look like a map. New pilots typically spend extra time in the air circling checkpoints and recovering from errors. The new simulator saves the Navy time, fuel and substantial maintenance costs as helicopters require about 20 hours of maintenance for every hour spent in the air.

Office of Naval Research

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