The Pilot Assistant in the Vicinity of hElipads (PAVE) provides the system technology to support the pilot during approach and departure by improving situational awareness and offering human centred automation to one of the complex, work intensive and dangerous parts of helicopter missions.
Helicopter landing sites differ widely and are often located near buildings (Figure 1), close to terrain or other obstacles. The helicopter pilot is dependant on visual cues during approach and landing to conduct the flight safely. Reduced visibility makes it complicated to avoid collisions or even to fly and to land the helicopter. Helipads by their nature are situated close to populated noise sensitive places, but noise abatement procedures require a steeper approach exposing the helicopter more close to its flight envelope limits. Additionally, emergency procedures in case of engine failure require very fast pilot decisions and actions. They are of vital interest especially during departure.
The Pilot Assistant addresses all these problems and takes the full complexity of the pilot work during these flight phases into account. Therefore it integrates single solutions of dedicated problems, using all available information onboard. This is a sound basis to avoid automation surprises and to design a system which can be used by the pilot without extensive training.
The objective of PAVE is to improve safety, to increase operability and to reduce high noise levels, by ensuring appropriate workload for the pilot and avoiding work overload.
The overall technical approach is to define requirements for the pilot assistant, to build, to integrate and to test the research prototype and to evaluate it using ground simulations and flight trials. The open system architecture ensures future extensions to further missions. Flight trials are carried out using the research helicopter FHS (EC135, Figure 2).