Development of an Intelligent Flight Trainer for Primary Helicopter Training 952035
At the U.S. Army Research Institute Rotary Wing Aviation Research Unit (ARI-RWARU) at Fort Rucker, Alabama, research and development efforts have been directed toward reducing helicopter flight training costs by providing low-cost simulator training in lieu of high-cost helicopter “blade time.” An experimental low-cost simulator was developed based on the UH-1 “Huey” aircraft. Earlier research demonstrated that this UH-1 Training Research Simulator (UH-1 TRS) provided positive Transfer of Training (TOT) to the UH-1 aircraft  and that training in the UH-1 TRS could be substituted for training in the aircraft . However, the challenge to the human factors engineers at ARI-RWARU was not so much the development of a low-cost helicopter simulator as the development of more efficient and effective training technologies to support the Army's Initial Entry Rotary Wing (IERW) course. The Intelligent Flight Trainer (IFT) was developed to use concepts from Expert System (ES) and Intelligent Tutoring System (ITS) technologies to adaptively train ab initio Army Student Pilots (SPs) in the basic skills and maneuvers that serve as the foundation for successful helicopter pilotage. The IFT concept seeks to provide flexible, individually-tailored instruction in the basic helicopter flight skills using automated training technology in lieu of a dedicated Instructor Pilot (IP). Research is underway to evaluate the effectiveness of the IFT in training SPs in hovering flight and traffic pattern flight as a precursor to their first flights in an Army training helicopter.