Exploring the feasibility of the virtual environment helicopter system (VEHELO) for use as an instructional tool for military helicopter pilots
Kulakowski, Walter W.
Sullivan, Joseph A.
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The requirement for low-level navigation flight conducted between 200 and 500 feet above ground level is something unique to the military helicopter pilot. Each novice helicopter pilot is introduced to this skill early and in a limited number of flights or flight hours. A low situational awareness (SA)is historically noted among the novice pilots during their first few flights within this flight regime. To that end, this thesis continues with the work conducted earlier to develop a trainer that places the pilot in an immersive and familiar cockpit environment for training through the use of chromakeyed technology as employed in the Virtual Environment Helicopter System (VEHELO). The pilot will then be able to learn and exercise required piloting tasks and multi-place aircraft communications as authentically and as meticulously as in actual flight. The focus of this thesis is to continue validation of the ChrAVE/VEHELO system. This will be accomplished by comparison of data obtained from data collected by pilots flying the ChrAVE and flying the actual aircraft during initial navigational training flights. Additionally this thesis will attempt to show that the latest version of the system has a previously unrecognized ability to improve pilot performance. The system is capable of teaching novice pilots the important skill of Crew Resource Management (CRM) and the appropriate communication skills. The original Chromakey Augmented Virtual Environment (ChrAVE) helicopter flight simulation system was developed to substantiate the feasibility of having embedded trainers for helicopters. Both the ChrAVE and VEHELO are comprised of commercial off the shelf (COTS) equipment in a mobile wheeled box. To determine the effectiveness of the ChrAVE as an instructional tool, the opinions of pilots and pilot instructors will be collected for analysis. The subject pilots will be tasked with numerous realistic piloting tasks. Empirical data will be collected and evaluated according to the low-level navigation performance thresholds set forth by Marine Medium Helicopter Training Squadron 164 (HMMT- 164) which is the CH-46E Model Manager.
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