Enhancing Coast Guard’s helicopter training capacity with state-of-the-art Full-Flight Helicopter Simulator


Coast Guard’s new full-flight helicopter simulator at the Transport Canada Training Centre at the Ottawa International Airport.
Coast Guard’s new full-flight helicopter simulator at the Transport Canada Training Centre at the Ottawa International Airport.

The Canadian Coast Guard operates a fleet of 22 helicopters to support critical marine services such as aids to navigation, marine communications and traffic services, icebreaking operations, environmental response and search and rescue when needed. The acquisition of the new full-flight helicopter simulator supports training of Coast Guard helicopter pilots to fly its fleet of light-lift and medium-lift helicopters using the most advanced technology of its kind.

A Canadian-made and cutting-edge training tool

Designed and built by CAE Inc., in Montreal, Quebec, the full-flight helicopter simulator is a CAE 3000 series helicopter simulator and a Level D qualified training device, which means that it is capable of simulating both Coast Guard aircraft types so realistically that pilots will be able to perform the majority of their helicopter training without needing to train in an actual aircraft.

Features and technical specifications of the full-flight simulator include:

  • a 12-foot dome and a projection visual system with a 220 degree horizontal field of view and a 85 degree vertical field of view combined with the most detailed geo-specific databases ever built for a helicopter.
  • advanced motion and sound systems combined with a vibration platform and a specific aircraft aerodynamic model that all contribute to realistic and highly immersive training.
  • a roll-on/roll-off cockpit conversion design that allows training on both Coast Guard helicopter types, the light-lift and the medium-lift helicopters; and
  • a customized range of missions specific to Coast Guard operations.

As a certified Level D training tool, the full-flight simulator recreates the Bell 429 and Bell 412 EPI cockpits including the same flight controls, avionics, and flight instrumentation of the actual helicopters.

Some of the benefits of the new helicopter simulator include:

  • ability to train various mission profiles in various operational training areas;
  • providing pilots with a safe training environment;
  • allowing pilots to familiarize themselves with equipment prior to use; and
  • reducing risks to pilots and aircraft.

Equipped with an extensive range of weather and emergency scenarios, the simulator allows pilots to train for challenging and high-risk situations that would otherwise be too dangerous to train in a real aircraft, without ever leaving the ground. Using computational fluid dynamics, the aerodynamic models in the full-flight simulator are capable of simulating realistic wind and turbulence at key Coast Guard landing sites as well as during shipboard operations. This simulator is also capable of simulating load operations using a limited field of vision “below” the device, allowing the pilot to look down and view a sling load on a separate screen.

All of these capabilities improve the training of Coast Guard helicopter pilots and ensure they are better prepared for any situation they might face during operations.

A revolutionary roll-on/roll-off capability unique in North America

With the roll-on/roll-off cockpit conversion feature, the full-flight simulator can accommodate training for both Bell 429 and Bell 412 EPI cockpits. The cockpit unit can be removed and replaced to provide training versatility and includes the simulated cockpit area complete with forward shell, structures, flight controls, and all panels and instruments. When the cockpits are swapped, the second cockpit can be docked in another flight training device to allow limited training to continue. This feature provides for flexibility in training while saving time and costs. 

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