July 10, 2012 – London, UK (Techreleased) – The Thales UK-operated Sea King helicopter simulator at Royal Air Force (RAF) Valley in North Wales has benefited from a significant upgrade to the visual system, offering an enhanced training capability to the RAF’s Search and Rescue Force (SARF).
The Sea King visual database/hardware upgrade has exceeded all expectations”
The upgrade has dramatically improved the out-of-the window visuals for the crews, including improved synthetic scenarios for vital SAR training, such as snow landing conditions and operations with night-vision devices.
The dynamic simulator is a six-axis, all-motion vehicle with the cockpit capable of being quickly reconfigured as a Mk3 or Mk3A version, providing very realistic audio and visual feedback to the crew. It is an exact replica of the real helicopter cockpit, and is capable of providing a broad spectrum of training such as weather and malfunction activities.
The Thales team worked closely with the SAR Force and the Ministry of Defence (MoD) to develop and implement the solution.
The SAR Force maintains a 24-hour SAR service that covers the whole of the UK and the Falklands, with crews regularly operating in difficult maritime and mountain conditions night and day.
Sea King Mk3 and Mk3A helicopters of 22 and 202 Squadrons operate from six UK locations, including RAF Valley. As well as being the headquarters of the SAR Force, RAF Valley is home to the Sea King helicopters of 203(R) Squadron, the Operational Conversion Unit that trains new aircrew for the operational squadrons.
The Sea King training service also provides training for front line operational SAR pilots undergoing twice yearly refresher training as well as continuation training for Belgian, German and Norwegian Forces.
The simulator service is staffed by Thales instructors, console operators and engineers. The service offers training five days a week, throughout the year.
Commenting on the upgrade, RAF Flight Lieutenant Paul Wright, the Sea King Simulator Training Liaison Officer, says: “The Sea King visual database/hardware upgrade has exceeded all expectations. I have heard many front-line crews commenting favourably on the quality of the new visual facility.
“Since the end of the project the Sea King Operational Conversion Unit has conducted a feasibility exercise alongside our Thales colleagues in order to exploit the maximum benefit afforded by, for example; the new snow-landing capability. Of particular note has been the increased fidelity of the night vision goggles view.”
“Both aspects will allow us the train students and front-line crews to deal with potentially dangerous flights in a safer manner. In essence, the new visual database will, in my view, help save lives.”
Marion Broughton, head of Thales UK’s military aerospace business, says: “The RAF Search & Rescue Force enjoys a deserved reputation for excellence in its field and the upgraded Sea King simulator will continue to play its part in maintaining the highest standards of training. We are very proud to be supporting RAF operations with a range of fixed wing and rotary simulators.”