, Volume 4, Issue 4, pp 385-396
Date: 24 Jul 2013

Effects of visual and motion cues in flight simulation of ship-borne helicopter operations

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Abstract

Good visual cues are necessary in the flight simulation of ship-borne helicopter operations. Operating in a degraded visual environment cues has a negative impact on pilot workload and task performance. However, the need for motion cues in piloted flight simulation is still a widely debated issue. This paper describes a preliminary piloted flight simulation study into the effects of visual and motion cues on the operation of ship-borne helicopters and pilot workload. Unsteady CFD airwakes have been computed and integrated into the FLIGHTLAB modelling and simulation environment with a simulated rotorcraft model, configured to be representative of an SH-60B helicopter. A series of ship-deck landing and hover manoeuvres have been conducted using the University of Liverpool’s HELIFLIGHT-R motion-base flight simulator representing different visual and motion cues, for a range of ship airwakes and sea states (ship deck motions). The usable cue environment (UCE), handling quality and pilot workload ratings were assessed using visual cue ratings, handling quality rating and the Bedford workload rating scale and Deck Interface Pilot Effort Scale. This paper presents the results from simulation trials with two test pilots examining the effect of the simulation cueing on task performance and workload. Visual cues were found to have a significant impact both on the UCE ratings and pilot workload ratings. In degraded visual environments, the pilot’s ability to make corrections in attitude and translational rates was reduced. Pilots experienced higher workload in terms of compensatory control inputs to complete the same mission task as compared to operations in a good visual environment. Analysis of the pilots’ workload ratings and control activity show that motion cueing can cause differences in pilot perceived workload. For the simulation of ship-borne operations, the impacts of motion cueing are dependent on other simulation conditions, which include visual environments, airwake, sea states and ship deck motion. The effect of motion cueing on pilot workload and control activity was found to be more significant when the visual cueing was degraded. The variations in pilot workload ratings and control activities under different motion and visual cues indicate that the Ship Helicopter Operating Limits can be affected by the simulation cueing fidelity.

This paper is based on a presentation at the 38th European Rotorcraft Forum, September 4–7, 2012, Amsterdam, the Netherlands.