The Full Flight Simulation system at Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose underwent a visual system technology upgrade to ensure access to state-of-the-art and realistic vistas from the pilot’s cockpit.
They underwent Christie’s new Matrix StIM™ — an advanced LED-based DLP projection system that provides the unique capabilities to support normal visual operations and stimulation of aircrew Night Vision Goggles (NVG) simultaneously. This advanced capability offered a solution to a critical gap in the night-vision training syllabus for the RN Sea King aircrews.
The contractors recognized that given the ability to simulate low-level night flying to a higher level of fidelity than that previously provided with CRT projectors is needed before training in the air for real.
An array of three dual-input Matrix StIMs — a 1-chip WUXGA DLP® 600 lumen LED projector — has now been installed, along with upgraded versions of the ThalesView software and more powerful Image Generators (IG) to promote a new realism of the different terrains and conditions likely to be encountered. This is enhanced by Christie’s IR-compatible MotoBlend™, designed to maximize life-like images of both day and night, which has been cut to the warp profile generated by a Christie Twist™ Pro processor; as a result, the image blends seamlessly across the array of projectors to provide a lifelike 200° field of view (FOV) from the simulator cockpit.
The Matrix StIM is the first projector to provide independent control over both the visible and infrared spectrum and enable real-time balancing of both colour and brightness levels. It is also the first simulation system designed with solid state illumination — making it virtually maintenance-free. These capabilities were important in regard to Thales achieving the high-fidelity NVG simulation demanded by the end-user.
“Technology has moved on considerably since we last updated the simulator and the Christie Matrix StIM option was seen as a good way to improve visuals, improve training and improve power usage,” noted Brian Mouser. “It offers huge weight, power consumption and size advantages.”
The technological breakthrough of providing true-to-life NVG stimulation had been achieved by combining InfraRGB™ illumination (RGB and IR LEDs) and Christie InfraScene™, the unique capability of processing and displaying infrared content.
At the same time Thales UK introduced more powerful IGs to run the new databases, hooked up to ThalesViewNG (Next Generation), an improved version of its software. “This gave us higher brightness and improved graphics — such as 3D seascapes where the waves rise — and recirculation FX — sea, snow, sand and dust simulating the downforce of the blades as they come into land. It’s exactly what the pilots see.”
The new simulation centre is certainly proving popular with those training at RNAS Culdrose. Pilots and instructors alike have observed the brighter and sharper images and have relished the fact that air crew can operate in both normal light and NVG modes simultaneously — an invaluable training aid especially for night operations to unlit landing sites as well as ships’ flight decks.
More information here.