Operator Experience is a factor in helicopter accidents

Posted Wednesday, December 18 2013 as Blog, Industry News

“A pilot can easily be task saturated and over stimulated by too many items in the cockpit,”

Excerpt from: Enhancing Pilot Situation Awareness for Increased Safety
Avionics Intelligence Executive Briefing, Courtney E. Howard.

“A pilot can easily be task saturated and over stimulated by too many items in the cockpit,” recognizes Brett Harlow, military/government aviation business development manager at Garmin International in Olathe, Kan. “We have shown improvement in pilot interface by making it a lot easier to learn. And by condensing it into one to two simple screens, like Garmin has done, you also minimize the heads down time and keep them looking outside longer.”

Garmin officials have been working closely with the Defense Safety Oversight Council (DSOC), which provides governance on U.S. Department of Defense (DOD)-wide efforts to reduce preventable mishaps. Garmin’s objective is to add a level of safety not seen before in the military environment, Harlow says. Garmin’s COTS GNS/GTN navigators are designed to simplify installation and minimize down time, for example. “By adding a helicopter terrain awareness and warning system (HTAWS), in-flight weather, traffic, back-up radios, and communications, we not only improve safety of flight, but make the pilot’s and crew’s life a lot easier.” 

The Garmin GTN 750/650 features a helicopter-specific obstacle database with nearly 30,000 low-altitude obstacles, as well as a navigation database with heliports and high-resolution terrain. “For added safety, optional HTAWS provides five-color shading to show nearby terrain in proximity to your helicopter, and provides voice callouts when descending below 500 feet,” Harlow describes. The GTN 750/650 is available with optional enhancements tailored to the demands of helicopter missions, and is optionally compatible with night vision imaging systems (NVIS) for use with a wide range of optics.

“What’s even better is when you pair the GTN series with a G500H,” Harlow adds. “Dual 6.5-inch LCD screens, mounted side-by-side in a single bezel, put primary flight display (PFD) and multifunction display (MFD) capabilities right in front of you for easy scanning and interpretation. The PFD screen shows attitude, airspeed, altitude, climb rate, and course/heading information, while the leftside MFD provides detailed moving-map graphics with the helicopter’s current position in relation to ground features, chart data, navaids, and flight plan routings.”

Synthetic vision is another safety benefit, “adding 3D obstacles, terrain, and traffic right in front of the pilot,” Harlow explains. “With technology advancing quickly, it’s key to exploit those advances and use them for the right reasons.”

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Learn more and download this free, informative guide to learn how helicopter operators, airframe manufacturers (such as AgustaWestland, Korea Aerospace, and Sikorsky), professional helicopter organizations (such as IHST), and technology innovators (including Sandel Avionics, Garmin, Honeywell, and Rockwell Collins) are working together and putting modern avionics into action to reduce helicopter accidents and fatalities.