In March this year we reassessed our approach and the support equipment for our potential Remote Survey Support Service (R3S). The result was a change from a microdrones quad rotor system, to a more conventional rotary winged system based on a radio controlled airframe with an integrated auto stabilisation and control system (Carvec Kestrel 1000 ES). The reasons for this system change are covered earlier in this blog.
With this markedly different system we needed to take a structured training and experience programme integrated with the service development. In terms of pilot flight training and experience, our target was to undertake initial 5 hours structured instruction from RC Helicopter schools and emergency service experienced instructors. This was to be supplemented by a foundation of 80 hours plus simulator experience.
On the previous microdrone system we had over 16 hours flight operation time. This was useful pilot experience for basic control coordination and operating in the field etc.
Since the initial procurement of the new system we have undertaken 3.5 flight hours basic RC Helicopter instruction from two professional schools. We have had 2 flight hours essential Carvec System training from an experienced instructor for the emergency services. We have also purchased a desktop simulation system and a 600 sized basic RC Helicopter for continuation training and to maintain currency (Align Trex 600 ESP). To date we have clocked over 80 flight hours on the simulator. Very early on in the process we were advised that the best use of the simulator was to carry out all new manoeuvres and operations on the sim until the operator can carry them out naturally, before proceeding with practical training. We took this on board and have added an additional step using the basic training rc helicopter to learn the basic ‘feel’ before we carry out the same operation on the Carvec system.
We feel that although the operator training has been slower, the development has been in a safe and structured manner. This should make it easier to replicate for additional operators if necessary.
As a result we have flown a number of air vehicles and systems. Our Carvec and training systems are both electrically powered with flight durations of between 6 mins for the trainer to 15 mins for the Carvec airvehicle. When we write below that we have flown 50 hours, this equates to a large number of flights.
80 – hours simulator flight hours.
19.1 – basic radio controlled helicopter flight hours including 3.5 hours instruction
16.1 – microdrones system flight hours
16.2 – Carvec flight hours including 2 hours instruction.
We are looking forward to using this experience when the service goes live in April 2011.