Cohort company SEA is providing modelling and simulation support to the UK MoD Chinook project team as a method of assessing key aircraft handling qualities, prior to sea trials of the Chinook helicopter operating from the new Tide Class Military Afloat Reach and Sustainability (MARS) Tanker ship.
The project has involved updating the Ship Air/Interface Framework (SAIF) simulation capability, which SEA has developed for the MoD over many years, and then linking SAIF with the Chinook flight simulator operated by Boeing in Philadelphia. The SAIF simulation provides an open architecture via which high fidelity ship air wake and ship motion data can be injected into a flight simulator, in order to provide a highly realistic flight simulation environment in which to assess pilot workload and aircraft limitations when undergoing deck landings.
The SAIF/Chinook simulator integration activity was successfully completed in August 2017 by SEA engineers Dr Gary Henry and Andy Cosgrove, working with Boeing engineers in the US. SEA subsequently supported a simulated flight trial of the Chinook operating from the Tide Class MARS Tanker, with the SAIF software and hardware operating with 100% reliability, prior to the sea trials to be conducted later in 2017.
Tide Class is a new fleet of four tankers being built to enhance the Royal Navy’s maritime capabilities. The first vessel in the class is due to be commissioned into the Royal Fleet Auxiliary (RFA) service in 2017. The next-generation tankers are part of the MARS project and are intended to replace the RFA’s ageing fleet of single-hulled tankers. A key requirement is the capability to operate the Chinook from the ship’s flight deck.
SEA’s Simulation and Training Portfolio Manager Ian Cox explained: “We are very keen to further explore how simulation can be used as part of a safe and progressive approach to the development of Ship/Helicopter Operating Limits (SHOLs). This project, working with the MoD and Boeing in support of the Chinook programme, provides a fantastic opportunity to further exploit the use of cost effective simulation technology. If the simulation provides realistic results for the Chinook/MARS Tanker combination, then it opens up the opportunity to apply the same approach to support the generation of SHOL clearances for several other Chinook/ship platform combinations, including the new Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carrier.”
“Not only can the SAIF simulation be used to investigate maritime helicopter operations, but it can also be used to investigate potential Unmanned Aerial System (UAS) operations from naval vessels using the same basic architecture”.