Since 2010, Frasca’s advanced helicopter full flight simulators have helped Bristow Group develop a true company‐wide learning and safety culture.
Next Generation Requirements
In the mid‐2000s, the Bristow Group began operating a new generation of twin‐engine IFR helicopters to support offshore oil and gas (O&G) exploration and production – the Airbus EC225, Sikorsky S‐ 76C++, and Sikorsky S‐92. To support flight training in these new aircraft, Bristow chose Frasca to design, certify, manufacture, and install three new type‐specific state-of‐art full flight simulators for Bristow’s North Sea helicopter training center in Aberdeen, Scotland.
Bristow Mission Profile
Founded in 1955, Bristow today operates 345 aircraft supporting offshore O&G in Europe, Russia, and North, Central, and South America. Specifically, in the often unforgiving North Sea, Bristow provides O&G support in addition to 24‐hour, all‐weather day/night search and rescue (SAR) for the UK government and the Norwegian O&G industry.
Notorious for rough and changing weather conditions, the North Sea is an exceptionally challenging environment with high winds, rough seas, poor visibility, fog, thunderstorms, icing conditions, and turbulence. The company sought superior simulator technology to ensure pilots received realistic, multi‐sensory training preparing them to maintain safe flight operations no matter what the North Sea throws at them.
Frasca developed three custom simulators featuring the Frasca TruVision Global visual system with a 200‐degree horizontal by 70‐degree vertical dome visual system, six‐axis electric motion base, vibration platform, exact cockpit replication, electric control loading, blade element modelling, multi‐channel sound simulation, night vision goggle (NVG) compatibility, and a touch screen instructor operator station (IOS).
The visual database installed for Bristow includes several high‐detail UK airports, coastlines, and North Sea offshore oil field installations, and allows for a range of sea states, weather, and light conditions to accurately simulate the operating environment.
The Frasca simulators are also equipped with an auto‐test utility employing sensors and software to automatically fly the FFS through the required CAA maneuvers, record the performance, and compare the results to flight test data obtained from an actual helicopter. Auto‐test also includes a real‐time graphical feedback on the visual display, greatly simplifing performing control sweep tests.
Bristow required an FFS that permitted the company to get as close to the FFS Level D training credit as possible, but used an alternate certification level allowing more flexibility in technology to better meet its training objectives.
Frasca designed and certified Bristow’s simulators from the ground up to meet the company’s specific training and certification requirements. Each FFS is dual qualified as FFS Level B by the UK Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) and a FTD Level 3 under the EASA system. As such, pilots receive credit for 90% of initial type conversions and 100% for recurrent training and check requirements in the simulators.
Simulator Training at Bristow
Bristow provides initial and recurrent training in its advanced FFSs. Bristow’s initial training program includes aircraft‐type rating and operator conversion, the majority of which is conducted in the simulators and supplemented by actual aircraft training. All semiannual recurrent training and checks (apart from line checks) are conducted in the simulators.
Training Benefits Realized
The new FFSs greatly enhance Bristow’s training efforts, allowing instructors to effectively teach and monitor pilot performance, multi‐crew procedures, and crew resource management (CRM).
The Frasca simulators also feature recording facilities, including video, audio, instrument readouts, and flight path data. This allows the flight to be played back for debrief, analysis and learning opportunities, further enhancing training.
In the end, the three high fidelity flight simulators not only meet Bristow’s certification and training objectives, but proved to be extremely reliable and easy to maintain, with reliability exceeding 98 percent.
“These aspects can only be trained and assessed effectively when instructors/examiners are not part of the crew (as they would have to be during training in the actual aircraft),” says Bristow’s Training Standards Manager Paul Quick.
“The simulator is ideal, allowing the instructor/examiner to observe and test from the instructor station.”