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11th October 2011, 12:47pm
Using virtual helicopters to design real ships
merlin Research in flight simulator technology to support pilots who have to negotiate the difficult and dangerous task of landing a helicopter aboard ships will be presented at a public lecture at the University of Lincoln later this month.

Professor Ieuan Owen was involved in undertaking the research in support of the Ministry of Defence in its quest to acquire simulation facilities for pilot training and for establishing limiting wind conditions for safe ship-helicopter operations. He will describe how, through the application of advanced computer modelling, a hi-fidelity simulation environment has been produced in which a pilot can ‘fly’ a helicopter to a ship in a motion-base simulator. He will also explain how this technique is being used to inform the design of future ships.

Professor Owen said: “Landing a helicopter on a small ship at sea is one of the most demanding and hazardous tasks that a helicopter pilot can face. Ship-based helicopters routinely operate from a rolling, pitching and heaving flight deck with degraded visibility in close proximity to the ship’s superstructure. Additionally, air moving over the ship, due to the combined effects of the ship’s forward speed and the prevailing wind, creates a strong unsteady flow field in the lee of the superstructure which buffets the helicopter during approach and landing.

“Having developed the capability to ‘fly’ a helicopter to a ship, it has now become possible to use the level of difficulty of the flying task to evaluate the aerodynamic loads on the aircraft, and from there to identify the design features of the ship’s superstructure which make it difficult for the pilot to fly the aircraft. This information will inform ship designers of the future.”

Professor Owen is Deputy Vice Chancellor at the University of Lincoln. Prior to joining Lincoln he was Dean of the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Liverpool. He began his professional career with the UK Ministry of Defence. His research interests are related to the broad area of fluid flow and heat transfer.

His current research, which has been funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and UK defence agencies, is related to the air flow over naval ships and how this impacts on the operational envelope of a ship-borne helicopter.

He represents the UK on an international partnership on ship/helicopter operations that has members from the defence agencies of the UK, US, Canada and Australia. He also represents the UK on a NATO Exploratory Team that is reviewing the design standards for ships operating with helicopters.

The Lecture takes place from 6pm on 25 October 2011. The lecture is free to attend but places should be booked in advance at or by calling 01522 837100. Registration starts at 5.30pm with refreshments after the event. Location: EMMTEC Theatre at the University of Lincoln’s Brayford campus, LN6 7TS.

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