ICARUS device enhances helicopter training at UND
By simulating clouds or fog while flying, the device – a lightweight visor that changes opacity – helps pilots practice the critical transition to instrument flight
Suppose you’re driving at freeway speeds, and suddenly find your view of the road blocked by fog.
Suppose you’re piloting an aircraft when that happens. Suppose you’re piloting an aircraft and coming in for a landing, and the sudden fog makes the runway disappear.
Recently, UND Aerospace has procured a device that trains helicopter pilots to respond to exactly those conditions, thereby helping to ensure that the pilot stays calm and in control. The ICARUS device is a smart, view-limiting device that gives flight instructors the ability to change flight visibility for the student in flight.
The device replaces the traditional hood for Instrument Flight Rules or IFR training, and also allows for “inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions” training to teach students how to cope with sudden weather changes.
What are inadvertent instrument meteorological conditions? Simply put, they are conditions such as “flying into fog,” described above. And as Army Aviation has declared, IIMC are one of the biggest killers of soldiers in Army aircraft, exceeding hostile fire, even in times of combat.
The ICARUS device is a screen that the pilot wears in front of their eyes, either clamped to a hat or flight helmet or as part of a headset. The device uses an electronic signal to change the opacity of the screen in front of the student’s eyes. That way, it can simulate different levels of flight visibility, from unrestricted down to less than half a mile.
The screen is battery powered and paired to the instructor’s iPad for remote control.
ICARUS was founded in 2016 by Nick Sinopli after losing a friend in an aviation accident. ICARUS stands for Instrument Conditions Awareness Recognition and Understanding System, and the idea is to improve aviation safety by providing the most realistic in-aircraft instrument and IIMC training available.
“UND is the industry leader in aviation training,” an ICARUS Devices spokesperson said. “We are extremely excited to provide the Odegard School with a state-of the-art tool to teach aspiring aviators to deal with weather in flight.
“We are looking forward to the next generation of UND pilots taking to the skies ICARUS-trained.”
UND Aerospace has been evaluating the ICARUS device for the past year and found it extremely valuable. “We are always looking at innovative ways to improve safety and flight training, and the ICARUS has proven to be a key tool for instrument training,” said Wes Van Dell, chief flight instructor for the helicopter program at UND Aerospace.
“Using the ICARUS in the aircraft combined with our GAT Helo spatial disorientation simulator on the ground, we aim to provide the highest level of instrument and IIMC training in the industry.”