5 May 2017 Designing a virtual cockpit for helicopter offshore operations
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Abstract
In recent years the number of offshore wind farms is rapidly increasing. Especially coastal European countries are building numerous offshore wind turbines in the Baltic, the North, and the Irish Sea. During both construction and operation of these wind farms, many specially-equipped helicopters are on duty. Due to their flexibility, their hover capability, and their higher speed compared to ships, these aircraft perform important tasks like helicopter emergency medical services (HEMS) as well as passenger and freight transfer flights. The missions often include specific challenges like platform landings or hoist operations to drop off workers onto wind turbines. However, adverse weather conditions frequently limit helicopter offshore operations. In such scenarios, the application of aircraft-mounted sensors and obstacle databases together with helmet-mounted displays (HMD) seems to offer great potential to improve the operational capabilities of the helicopters used. By displaying environmental information in a visual conformal manner, these systems mitigate the loss of visual reference to the surroundings. This helps the pilots to maintain proper situational awareness. This paper analyzes the specific challenges of helicopter offshore operations in wind parks by means of an online survey and a structured interview with pilots and operators. Further, the work presents how our previously introduced concept of an HMD-based virtual flight deck could enhance helicopter offshore missions. The advantages of this system – for instance its “see-through the airframe”-capability and its highly-flexible cockpit setup – enable us to design entirely novel pilot assistance systems. The gained knowledge will be used to develop a virtual cockpit that is tailor-made for helicopter offshore maneuvers
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Johannes M. Ernst, Sven Schmerwitz, Thomas Lueken, Lars Ebrecht, "Designing a virtual cockpit for helicopter offshore operations", Proc. SPIE 10197, Degraded Environments: Sensing, Processing, and Display 2017, 101970Z (5 May 2017); doi: 10.1117/12.2262482; https://doi.org/10.1117/12.2262482
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