Flying in DVE

Military helicopter operations require pilots to fly at low level in the NoE at night and in bad weather, and clearly the DVE has a major impact on all three pilotage functions – navigation, guidance and stabilization. To a lesser extent, recovery of civil transport helicopters in poor weather to confined landing sites, such as ships and building tops, also makes additional demands on flying qualities. Pilots need support for all three functions described above. Fear of getting lost may well be a primary concern but navigation is not directly a flying qualities issue. We are more concerned with guidance and stabilization. As the OVCs degrade, pilots will have two related concerns. First, they will need to supplement the disappearing outside world position and velocity cues to enable them to continue low-level flight without risk of bumping into things, with potentially catastrophic consequences. Second, they will need to fixate

on their attitude instruments, particularly in gusty conditions, to prevent the aircraft departing from trim or level flight. Without any artificial guidance and stabilization aids, these requirements are clearly incompatible (the one requiring the pilot to keep eyes out, the other to fix gaze on displays) and a pilot will sensibly climb out of the unsafe flight condition. To enable helicopters to continue operations in low-level DVE, special guidance and control technologies are being developed, and requirements on these have been clarified in the new parlance of ADS-33.

It is recognized that the guidance function can really be augmented only through the provision to the pilot of augmented visual cues projected either onto the visor of his helmet or onto cockpit panels, either head-up or – down. The first generation of such displays can be found in systems like the AH-64A Apache helicopter with the integrated helmet and display system (IHADS), which provides a thermal image from a forward-looking infra-red sensor (FLIR) onto a monocular display, overlaid with flight path symbology and integrated and slaved with the pilot’s helmet (Ref. 7.26). We will discuss this as representative of current operational technology later in this section. It is also recognized that the stabilization task can be augmented properly only through feedback control functions, augmenting the poor natural damping and aerodynamic stiffness of the helicopter (which is practically absent at low speed). Two outstanding questions arise from this simple analysis – how best to ensure a harmonious integration of the guidance and stabilization augmentations for flight in DVE and what trade-offs exist in the design of the related display and SCAS technologies.

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