Development of a civil light helicopter flight simulator for pilot training

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Kazenmaier, U.
Gerboni, C.A.
Geluardi, S.
Olivari, M.
Richter, T.
Fichter, W.
Bülthoff, H.H.
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This paper aims at defining the necessary characteristics to develop a reliable and cheap helicopter flight simulator that could be used in flight schools for pilot training. The main contribution is the definition of helicopter dynamics and model parameters that are necessary to reproduce those characteristics perceivable by a pilot in a simulated environment. From this analysis, a physical-based nonlinear helicopter model is implemented. The proposed model description allows helicopter flight characteristics to be modified by changing only few physical parameters, which are readily accessible. The helicopter model is integrated with commercially available off-the-shelf helicopter controls and a Virtual Reality headset to create a cheap fixed-based simulator. The helicopter simulator is then validated through a pilot in-the-loop experiment with five licensed helicopter pilots. Subjective as well as objective metrics are considered for the evaluation. Results suggest that the proposed flight simulator can be effectively used in flight schools to save flight hours for the training of novice pilots. However, for training expert pilots a more complex setup would be necessary, able to provide additional features like the motion cueing.