Tactical Helicopter Flight in Degraded Visual Environments – the Test Pilot’s Perspective

15 September 2016

Royal Aeronautical Society



Helicopter operations in Degraded Visual Environments (DVE) are as old as the helicopter itself. In recent years, due primarily to military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, there has been a focus on providing solutions to the problem of completing landings and take-offs in visibility degraded by dust or low ambient light levels. However, the scope of the problem of operating in DVE is much wider than this and in recent years the potential technical solutions have multiplied. 

This presentation looks at how the problem has been defined in recent years and how the scope is likely to expand in the future. It also looks at a potentially novel way of examining possible solutions to the needs, before taking a look at the main areas of technology which might provide these. Finally, it will look at some of the flight test and research activity currently taking place in this arena and present some thoughts on how Flight Test professionals might ensure that, when they are involved in Test & Evaluation work of this nature, it is a success.

Lecture Sponsor:

Nova Systems

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Speaker Details

Julian Lee MRAeS, Senior Consultant and Mark Purvis, Senior Operational Consultant and Test Pilot, Nova Systems UK

Julian Lee qualified as a British Army pilot in 2002 before spending frontline tours on both the Lynx and Apache. In 2010 he graduated from the Empire Test Pilots School and was subsequently involved in numerous test programs. In 2013, as a result of his experience with symbology systems on Lynx and Apache, he was the UK Test Pilot on the international Degraded Visual Environment Symbology trial in the USA and Canada, for which he and the rest of the DSTL team were awarded a Technical Cooperation Program award. A Chartered Engineer and Member of the RAeS, Julian now works as a senior operational consultant at Nova Systems.

Mark Purvis qualified as a Royal Navy helicopter pilot in 2000 before spending frontline tours on both the Sea King Mk4 and Lynx Mk3.  After graduation in 2006 from the Empire Test Pilots School, he completed flight test postings to MOD Boscombe Down and US Army Aviation Flight Test Directorate.  He has participated in 3D symbology simulator trials in 2008, led the DSTL 3D symbology flight trial in 2009 and conducted a number of flights tests on Apache electro-optical systems.  An EASA rated Test Pilot and Associate of the RAeS, Mark now works as a senior operational consultant and test pilot at Nova Systems.




Royal Aeronautical Society