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Jan
01
2024

Tech and Growth on Display in Europe

Posted 53 days ago ago by Admin

For the second time in as many days, I was demoing a product that involved complex helicopter operations with a set of virtual reality goggles on my face. Boy how times have changed!

In the last week of November, European Rotors, the four-day show organized by the European Helicopter Association (EHA) and European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) and produced by Helicopter Association International, kicked off in Madrid, Spain.

The Rotor Pro team attended European Rotors and can attest that compared to last year’s event in Cologne, Germany, it was a larger event. HAI reported that attendance at the show was over 5,400 people from over 80 countries, both figures exceeding the participation in the previous  two shows. The show also saw growth in the number of exhibitors (231) and the number of aircraft displayed on the show floor (23).

Getting back to reality—or virtual reality—everywhere I turned during the show, there was some form of game-changing technology on display. For example, I was invited to demo two different training devices, which included mixed reality as the platform for learning. For those who haven’t heard, mixed reality is a combination of real and virtual environments, offering individuals a full, immersive teaching experience.

The first experience was using Bluedrop’s Hoist Mission Training System (HMTS). I was put on a physical platform, which was to be the door opening of a helicopter, which also had a physical hoist cable and hoist hand-controller, then virtually placed (via VR goggles) into a hover on the side of a snowy mountain at night to rescue a hiker off the side of a cliff.

In the second experience, I had the opportunity to fly Entrol’s H145 mixed-reality flight simulator. Because flying has both a visual and tactile component, mixed-reality flight training makes perfect sense. The VR goggles provide a 360o visual view of the flying environment. This provides better visual awareness as compared to simulators with a projection screen. However, in the cockpit, the pilot is still using their hands to physically push buttons, turn knobs, and flip switches, which is far more intuitive than a completely virtual cockpit.

All in all, compared to previous helicopter shows in Europe, this show seemed to be a hit and pointed to a healthy, growing vertical-lift industry on the eastern side of the Atlantic Ocean. “We are proud that the European community recognises this is the premier rotorcraft event in the region,” says Eduardo Consejo, president, Asociación de Trabajos Aéreos y de Emergencias (ATAIRE) the Spanish Helicopter Association hosting the event. “We understand the exhibitors were extremely pleased with the quality of visitors coming to see them, including those qualified to sign agreements on the spot. One of the goals of the show is to facilitate business between companies and buyers, and the data shows that the Madrid show met that challenge.”

It was also announced that European Rotors in 2024 will be held in Amsterdam, Netherlands. Looking back westward . . . next stop for the industry is Heli-Expo in Anaheim, California, and Rotor Pro will be there!

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