It’s called the GAT-HELO Rotary Wing Spatial Disorientation Trainer, and outside the military, there’s nothing else like it in the world. After the helicopter crash that killed basketball star Kobe Bryant and his 13-year-old daughter in late January 2020, as well as five other similar crashes, the Federal Aviation Administration formed a helicopter safety team dealing with spatial disorientation. The simulator will be part of a training program that already includes exposing students to hypoxia and the effects of rapid decompression, so they can function should an incident happen mid-flight.
UND’s goal with the simulator is to train its aviation students, both on-campus and corporate, to rely on their instruments, when their senses deceive them.
“They’re all trying to fix this problem of spatial disorientation in helicopters,” said Tom Zeidlik, director of aerospace physiology at UND. “Once we get it, we will have the only one in existence outside of the military.”
The GAT-HELO is designed to expose helicopter pilots to recognized illusions found in aviation, which will enable them to avoid, recognize, prevent and recover from events that cause a pilot to experience spatial disorientation. The simulator features a single seat generic cockpit, and shows operators a variety