The UK Ministry of Defence (MoD) has decided to award a single-source contract to AgustaWestland for the assessment and risk reduction activity of a helicopter-integrated 3D conformal symbology (3-D CS) system.
The new programme is aimed to reduce the difficulties in helicopter operations due to low-visibility landings (LVL) in degraded visual environments (DVE).
Under this contract, AgustaWestland will be responsible for carrying out a competitive procurement activity in order to select a 3-D CS solution that complies with the defined requirements.
As part of the competitive procurement process, AgustaWestland will invite companies to participate in the activity and submit their expression of interest (EoI) to serve as sub-contractors in the programme.
A Request for Proposal (RFP) will be issued shortly after the EoI closing date on 17 July. The last date to submit the RFPs to AgustaWestland will be early in the fourth quarter of this year.
Helicopters operating in ‘Brownout’ conditions, LVL phenomenon, often face difficulties when a pilot loses visual references due to dust or sand re-circulating during take-off or landing.
In 2011, scientists from the UK Defence Science and Technology Laboratory (Dstl) along with engineers at AgustaWestland conducted a simulator trial of 3-D CS.
The 3-D CS system uses a small helmet-mounted display in order to offer a virtual 3D representation of the landing zone.
It delivers all significant information to support the pilot to easily judge the height, speed and drift. The display can also be equipped to night vision goggles to enable a 24-hour capability.
The Dstl / industry team comprising Ferranti Technologies and AgustaWestland also conducted successful flight trials demonstrating effective 3D conformal symbology in a Lynx helicopter.
A further simulator trial using front-line Merlin helicopter crews to refine the solution was also performed.
Currently, research is being carried out to allow pilots to operate more safely and effectively in low-visibility conditions as well as for emergency and rescue operations in adverse weather such as fog and mist.
Image: The 3D conformal symbology system will support pilots to control helicopters in ‘Brownout” conditions. Photo: courtesy of AgustaWestland.