UND scores unique helicopter training opportunity

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UND scores unique helicopter training opportunity

The University of North Dakota was recently awarded a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Supplemental Type Certificate (STC) for its training helicopters.

"We aim to fill a void in the market with a cost-effective instrument trainer, and we have done so with this STC with all-digital instrument cluster from Garmin," said Ron DePue, a veteran US Army helicopter pilot and head of UND's helicopter training program.

"This will significantly enhance the training and education of our helicopter students because it will prepare them for the kind of equipment that's actually out there," DePue said.

"Another advantage for our students is that we've custom-installed this glass instrument panel in a regular training platform," DePue said.

Ken Polovitz, UND John D. Odegard School of Aerospace Sciences assistant dean, says this is vital to economics of getting helicopter training.

"This all-glass technology allows students to use the same advanced level of technology in a more cost effective helicopter such as the Schweizer 300," Polovitz said. "We're always looking to implement technologies that will enhance the students' learning environment and provide cost savings."

In close cooperation with Garmin and MidContinent Instruments and Avionics, UND developed a cockpit layout integrating the Garmin's G500H, GTN 650 touch screen NAV/COMM and the MD302, DePue said.

"This is the first time that the MD302 has ever been approved in an STC, fixed wing or rotorcraft," said Polovitz. "And this is the first time that a Glass cockpit has been approved for certification in the S300 trainer."

The G500H is an all-glass avionics system designed specifically for the VFR Part 27 helicopter market. The primary flight display shows attitude, airspeed, vertical speed, altitude, and course/heading information.

The multi-function display has detailed moving map graphics with the helicopters current position in relation to terrain, chart data, navaids, and flight plan routings.

The GTN 650 combines GPS, COM and NAV functions with powerful multifunction display capabilities such as high-resolution terrain mapping, graphical flight planning, multiple weather options and traffic display. While similarly sized to the Garmin GNS 430, it offers touch screen accessibility.

The MD302 Standby Attitude Module is a self-contained, solid-state instrument that provides attitude, altitude, airspeed and slip information in case of primary instrument failure.

The MD302 is designed to interface seamlessly with most primary avionics systems and is capable of synchronizing data, such as barometric pressures from standard ARINC outputs.

Garmin says the collaboration with UND is an example of a great partnership.

"We are delighted to have worked with the University of North Dakota to offer their helicopter students leading-edge avionics," said Jim Alpiser, director of aviation aftermarket sales at Garmin. "The selection of the G500H and GTN 650 for their training helicopters shows UND's continued commitment to offering the best possible training platform to their students, which offers a superior level of situational awareness and safety that is ideal for a training environment."

Juan Miguel Pedraza University & Public Affairs writer

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