New Helicopter Sim Trains EMS for Reality

Redbird and Hartzell team to create motion simulator for Case Western University.

When the idea to create a full-motion helicopter sim in which to train EMS personnel came to Joe Brown, CEO of Hartzell Propeller, he immediately thought of Jerry Gregoire, founder of Redbird Flight Simulations. Within a matter of months, the concept turned into a product, designed not to make money but to save lives. As far as we know, it’s the first of its kind in the world.

The EMS training sim recently started “flying” at Ohio’s Case Western University, which for years has conducted highly regarded EMS training.

In one way the project was easy: there would be no pilots’ stations. The other challeges, however, were great. First, Redbird found a surplus Sikorsky S-76 fuselage — rare birds, as Redbird discovered in the search. Because of the layout of the back of an EMS helicopter, convention video displays wouldn’t work, so Redbird had to dream up a different way. The solution was to use video projectors mounted on the outside of the airframe that project the outside world on the windows, which in fact are back projection video screens. The result is remarkably effective. In the Case Western training sim, vibration and noise, which seem very uncomfortably lifelike, are generated by big subwoofers along with the motion of the simulator platform itself. The virtual reality creates an environment for training first responders that can’t be duplicated in a conventional classroom.

Check out the sim in action here.

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