Success in Simulation

HATSOFF offers full motion/full mission training on three different helicopter types

Atul Chandra

An illustration of HATSOFF

The Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), a joint venture equally owned by Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and CAE, has received a Level D certification for its Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin helicopter simulator cockpit by India’s Directorate General Civil Aviation (DGCA) as well as the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA). Level D is the highest qualification for flight simulators. With this certification HATSOFF now offers training on three simulator cockpits, the Bell 412, HAL civil/conventional Dhruv, and the Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin. The cockpit for the Eurocopter AS365 N3 Dauphin can be used for training pilots on the Dauphin N1/N2/N3 variants.

“We are very proud of the progress we are making at HATSOFF, and achieving Level D certification for the Eurocopter Dauphin helicopter simulator at our facility is yet another example,” said chief executive officer, HATSOFF, Wg Cdr (retd) Chandra Datt Upadhyay Vr.C. He added, “HATSOFF is a first-of-its-kind helicopter simulation training centre in India, and we are excited about continuing to demonstrate how simulation-based training will prove to be one of the best approaches for improving safety, operational efficiency and mission readiness.” The first cockpit to be delivered to HATSOFF was for the Bell 412 and training for operators began in July 2010. HATSOFF is likely to be designated as a ‘Centre for Excellence’ for the Dauphin by Eurocopter and their test pilots are due to arrive at HATSOFF this month, to assess the facility. Once this is done, Eurocopter will start sending customers here for training on Dauphin N-1/N2/N3 variants. Pavan Hans, a major Dauphin operator, is in the final stages of signing a contract with HATSOFF to begin sending their pilots for training here.

The second cockpit delivered to HATSOFF represented the civil/conventional variant of the Dhruv and training began in May, last year. An additional cockpit for the Indian Army/Air Force glass cockpit variant of the Dhruv is expected to be added next year. IAF squadron pilots are currently training on the Dhruv conventional cockpit version and have appreciated the usefulness of using this type of training for their pilots at reduced cost with much higher levels of proficiency. Wg Cdr Upadhyay told FORCE that, “The IAF will be training at HATSOFF in big way from this year onwards. This will not only include continuation training for Dhruv pilots but also conversion training for pilots converting to the glass cockpit version.” The value of simulator-based training can be gauged from the fact that pilots after spending just 10 hours on the Dhruv simulator are able to go back to their squadrons and go solo with only one hour with an instructor and demonstrate single engine operations, tail rotor failures, etc said Upadhyay. This level of proficiency would normally be acquired after only fifteen to twenty hours of flying on an actual helicopter. Surprisingly, the Indian Army Aviation pilots flying the Dhruv have not begun training at HATSOFF. US Marine Corps and USAF data show that 70 per cent of pilot training is done on simulator with only 30 per cent being done on actual aircraft.

With regards to the simulator for the Dhruv glass cockpit version Upadhyay confirmed to FORCE that HAL would be signing a contract with Israeli Aircraft Industries (IAI) soon as issues regarding the rights and licenses been sorted out. Once CAE receives the data from HAL it will take a year to get the simulator ready. It is expected that the Dhruv glass Cockpit simulator will arrive in Bangalore in 2013. HATSOFF is also expected to offer training to pilots for the Light Combat Helicopter (LCH) and Light Utility Helicopter (LUH) and has already submitted techno-commercial proposals and is awaiting a response from HAL.

For the LUH, training will be conducted on a Flight Training Device (FTD) and HATSOFF will be looking at basing the FTD where required, by the IAF and the army, and running it as a detachment. This is likely to find favour with the forces as maintaining and running flight training simulators requires expert handling, especially in terms of the software, which is highly complex. HATSOFF is also in talks with Headquarters, IAF Training Command for instrument flying to be conducted for pilots who come to Yelahanka for Mi-8.

The simulator cockpits have been certified as Level 2 (JAR)/Level 6 (FAA) flight training devices (FTDs) when used as fixed-base, non-motion simulators in the docking station installed at HATSOFF. HATSOFF uses a CAE-built full-mission simulator ‘mothership’ that features CAE’s revolutionary roll-on/roll-off cockpit design, which enables cockpits representing various helicopter types to be used in the full-mission simulator. When one cockpit is in the full-motion, full-mission simulator, another cockpit can be connected to the fixed-based docking station and used as a flight training device. The HATSOFF training centre features multimedia classrooms, computer-based training, brief/debrief facilities, a training management information system and crew accommodation. The full-mission simulator features a common motion system, vibration platform, and visual display system, along with the four separate cockpit modules that can be used in the full-mission simulator. When a cockpit is not used in the full-mission simulator, it can be used as a fixed-based FTD.

The coming years are sure to see many changes and one of the first is the decision of Wg Cdr Upadhyay to put in his papers last month. He was instrumental in driving the project to where it is today. He told FORCE that, “HATSOFF was my dream project and I leave with the satisfaction that the three helicopter cockpits are certified at highest level by DGCA and EASA. HATSOFF will go from strength to strength.”


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