Electronic coupled active sidesticks in dual pilot helicopters for instructional flights

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Sampaio, R.S.
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Notably in training flights, mechanical linkages between pilot’s and copilot’s controls are crucial to the pilot’s situation awareness and to takeover control maneuvers. However, in near-obstacle helicopter scenarios, the control transfer between pilots can lead to loss-of-control accident caused by interaction on inceptors, as safety reports indicate. As an alternative to mechanical linkages, the electronic cross-cockpit control coupling is introduced as a smart flight control system to actively decouple inceptors, and thus to mitigate this category of accidents. The paper proposes a novel methodology to evaluate the suitability of the Electronic Coupled Active Sidesticks to helicopter domain, particularly applied to training flights. Results point to the ability of the electronic coupling to effectively emulate the mechanical linkage between control stations and perform full interventions on the ‘linked’ mode. Moreover, test pilots rated the system capable to decouple controls either by priority override pushbutton (manual) or by priority algorithm based on the logics of pilot activities (automatic force threshold).