A lot of missions that helicopter pilots handle are risky and can turn into a deadly game within seconds. Whether they are trailing close to a volcano or passing through turbulent air flows close to the oil rigs, they can lose their balance within seconds and crash into the sites. Therefore, a research team from the Technical University of Munich took it upon themselves to provide a precautionary training to pilots through a simulation software. It is for the first time in history that computational analysis is being applied to handle flight dynamics as well as fluid mechanics.
According to Juergen Rauleder, the assistant professor at TUM for helicopter aerodynamics, “Until now, flight simulators have not adequately reflected the reality of flying in close proximity to large objects. The problem is that, when it comes to wind conditions and the response of the helicopter, existing programs follow a rigid pattern. That means that local variations and changing conditions are not taken into account – unless the entire flow environment is known in advance.” However, one of the most treacherous conditions among these can be that of unforeseen air flow.
Dealing with complicated situations needs a lot of practice and skills that can only be perfected with on-the-job training. In order to become a skilled pilot who can land ships in heavy seas, you needs to go through all possible complicated situations multiple times. That is the only key to gain experience and have confidence and patience to deal with such things. Rauleder explains, “Conventional training is expensive, risky and very stressful for student pilots. It also imposes heavy demands on the aircraft: Because the first attempts usually result in rather hard landings, the dampers and landing gear take quite a beating.” Therefore, the program his team developed had elements of both flight dynamics as well as flow mechanics. He further adds, ““The numerical model is extremely flexible and does not depend on stored flow data. We only have to enter the external conditions such as topography, global wind speeds and the helicopter type. During the simulation, our algorithms use that data to continuously compute the interacting flow field at the virtual helicopter’s current location.”
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