CHC Helicopter invests in Virtual Reality kit for SAR training


CHC Helicopter is investing in Virtual Reality (VR) to train search and rescue (SAR) technical crew. It recently completed a trial with Priority 1 Air Rescue to deliver training for winch operators in Ireland.

The Texas-based helicopter services company is to roll out Priority 1’s VR training for all new winch operators – starting in Ireland and then in worldwide markets.

Dennis Groeneveld, director Flight Standards, CHC, said safety is at the heart of CHC’s global operations. “Our mission is to keep our people and passengers safe as we travel to remote and challenging destinations,” he said. “We are delighted with how the trial performed and are excited to roll the programme out more widely.”

VR simulation training enables technical crew members to train in a safe, controlled and realistic environment; including procedures that couldn’t be practiced in a live aircraft, according to the company. The VR training is the first of its kind to be accepted by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and Irish Aviation Authority (IAA), it added.

Guided by third party experts at Priority 1’s training facility, CHC’s technical crews can now practice winch operation procedures in mock cabins and a variety of weather conditions. They can also practice operations to support emerging sectors, such as offshore wnd platforms.

“This ground-breaking partnership with Priority 1 allows our crew members to repeatedly practice managing complex situations in a realistic but safe environment, ensuring they are fully equipped to act quickly and effectively in real world SAR events,” said Groeneveld.

Priority 1 Air Rescue France’s training courses have been developed and designed with industry partners to equip them with the skills and abilities needed during challenging operations, said

Steve Barreau, the company’s chief operating officer. “Our Advanced Aircrew Mission Simulators (AAMS) are perfect for this type of realistic search and rescue training and particularly for events that can’t be practised in reality. It has been fantastic to see CHC Ireland crews making full use of our facilities to further their skills and practice complex procedures,” he said.

The new VR training also supports CHC’s sustainability commitments by allowing training to be completed in just eight weeks, compared with the industry standard of nine months, said the operator.

Above: On the up – The new Virtual Reality training enables technical crews to develop emergency operations skills in safe environments.

Top: CHC Helicopter plans to roll out Priority 1’s VR training for all new winch operators – starting in Ireland and then to its technical crews worldwide.