Highly trained crews are fundamental for safe and successful rescue flights. In the simulator, Rega helicopter pilots have the opportunity to efficiently practise both standard situations and emergency procedures that are hardly – or not at all – possible in real life. In addition, on doing so they neither generate noise nor pollute the environment. Already back in 2013, Rega put into operation its own simulator for its AgustaWestland Da Vinci mountain helicopters at a location near Zurich Airport. Simulator training for the crews of the other helicopter type used by Rega, the Airbus H145, currently takes place in Germany.
One platform for several cockpits
Rega is now purchasing a new helicopter simulator comprising two components: a motion platform, which translates the pilot’s manoeuvres into authentic flight movements with the aid of a hydraulic system, and a true-to-life replica cockpit, which can be moved onto the motion platform on tracks. Thanks to this so-called roll-on/roll-off system, cockpits of different helicopter types can be used on the same platform. Initially, the new simulator will be equipped with the cockpit of Rega’s future all-weather helicopter, the Leonardo AW169-FIPS. Thus Rega pilots will not only be able to practise performing flights in adverse weather situations, such as icing conditions, in an extremely realistic manner, but also retrain to use this new helicopter type. In a second step, it is planned to use the system to replicate the Airbus H145 cockpit.
Long-term investment in crew training
The new system can fundamentally be adapted to incorporate any future Rega helicopter type, and all helicopter simulator training exercises for the Rega crews can be conducted at the same location near Zurich Airport. This considerably reduces time and travel for crew training. Rega is investing around CHF 15 million in the new system, which is scheduled to start operation at Lufthansa Aviation Training (LAT) in Opfikon in 2023. LAT will operate Rega’s state-of-the-art training device and also offer any free capacity to third parties.
A simulator in the highest certification category
The new helicopter simulator is a so-called Full Flight Simulator (FFS), Level D from the German firm, Reiser Simulation and Training. The cockpit is fitted with all the appropriate instruments and equipment. A motion platform replicates flight movements in an ultra-realistic way and a visual system displays the entire topography of Switzerland on a high-definition screen. The letter “D” stands for the currently highest certification category.