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UND to purchase training device to help helicopter pilots safely recognize and recover from spatial disorientation

UND Aerospace contracts with Southampton, Pa.-based Environmental Techtronic Corporation for helicopter flight simulator

UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences has awarded a contract to Southampton, Pa.-based Environmental Tectonics Corporation to purchase the company’s GAT-HELO training simulator (not pictured above) to train helicopter pilots on avoiding, recognizing, confirming, preventing and recovering from episodes of spatial disorientation. UND archival photo.

The University of North Dakota’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences announced today (Nov. 17, 2021) that it has awarded a contract to Environmental Tectonics Corporation’s (ETC) Aircrew Training Systems unit for its GAT-HELO, Rotary Wing Spatial Disorientation (SD) Trainer. According to the company, the GAT-HELO is ETC’s most cost-effective, helicopter simulator capable of delivering general flight and spatial disorientation training.

Robert Kraus

The specialized GAT-HELO motion platform is designed to create in- flight illusions authentically and safely. The GAT-HELO features a single-seat generic cockpit, instructor station and robust conditional event-based scenario editor software — allowing a variety of meteorological conditions, aircraft instrument and engine failure scenarios, autorotation and tail rotor failure, and interactive SD training profiles to be selected or programmed.

UND will be using the GAT-HELO to expose undergraduate helicopter pilots to FAA-recognized vestibular and visual illusions found in aviation; enabling them to avoid, recognize, confirm, prevent and recover from SD.

“ETC is proud to be partnering with the University of North Dakota in providing its critical aerospace training needs that prepare pilots to better manage the physiological effects of flight, ultimately leading to increased safety, said Dr. George Anderson, ETC’s chairman.

Robert Kraus, dean of UND’s John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences, said the GAT-HELO will add to the school’s Aerospace Physiology curriculum, which already uses a fixed-wing GAT, altitude chamber and vision laboratory to educate and train undergraduate students as well as corporate customers.

“This new trainer will provide a cost-effective way for rotary wing pilots to experience realistic spatial disorientation scenarios that cannot be accomplished safely in the air,” Kraus said. “Additionally, the capabilities of the device will contribute to research partnerships that will help improve aviation safety across the industry.”

About ETC:

ETC designs, manufactures, and sells software driven products and services used to recreate and monitor the physiological effects of motion on humans, and equipment to control, modify, simulate and measure environmental conditions. Our products include aircrew training systems (aeromedical, tactical combat, and general), disaster management systems, sterilizers (steam and gas), environmental testing and simulation systems, and other products that involve similar manufacturing techniques and engineering technologies. ETC’s unique ability to offer complete systems, designed and produced to high technical standards, sets it apart from its competition. ETC is headquartered in Southampton, PA. For more information about ETC, visit