ADAC’s HEMS conference: Training, Software Innovation and UAV Threats

By By Andrew Drwiega, International Bureau Chief | October 10, 2014

ADAC helicopters receive service at the operation’s maintenance facility. Photos by Andrew Drwiega

Thomas Gassmann, director of business development and sales at the ADAC HEMS Academy at Bonn airport in Germany, runs ADAC’s annual international networking event for EC135/EC145 operators, now in its third year.

The HEMS Academy provides what it claims is the world’s first civilian integrated training center for helicopter pilots, together with emergency doctors and rescue paramedics. Having brought people from many nations to the academy for training, three years ago he thought it would be useful to hold a special event where they could all come together to network and to share experiences. This year had the largest international attendance to date, with attendees coming from his own organization in Germany, to others from Argentina, Brazil, Finland, the Netherlands, Russia, Switzerland and the UK.


Gassman also encouraged German colleagues from DRF Luftrettung to bring their newly delivered Airbus Helicopter EC145 T2 for delegates to examine in one of ADAC’s hangars on-site. He had hoped to show ADAC’s own EC145 T2, but delivery was still two weeks away.

The academy opened in July 2009 and comprises a simulator hall which houses an EC135 and an EC145 simulator (FFS Level A according to JAR-FSTD H), together with other computer-based training systems for individual and group training.

Subjects during the first day’s presentations included a briefing by Pekka Autere on Scandinavian Air Ambulance’s decision to buy the new EC145 T2 for Finland’s HEMS services, a visual demonstration of ADAC’s version of the Euronav 7 moving map presented by Klaus Mader, and Chris Polich, from Peters Software demonstrating how moving 3D animations were created for computer-based training on aircraft systems.

A discussion on Night Vision Systems in Germany, led by Ricardo Frollo of EASA, revealed that European operators had requested that third party organizations should be allowed to install night vision cockpit alterations to stop the OEM’s from exploiting their position as a monopoly business. Frollo argued that any alterations needed to be sound and needed to be checked thoroughly as light leakage could cause major problems.

Ollie Dismore, representing the UK’s National Police Air Service, gave a progress update saying that there were now 19 helicopter bases within England and Wales (Scotland is already separate) with 23 helicopters available (16 EC135s, one EC145, and one MD Explorer). The force flew 16,000 hours in 2014, but because of the organization’s expansion, it is expected to log approximately 26,000 hours next year. He also added that the Metropolitan Police, with their three EC135s, were due to join on Oct. 1, 2014.

The next stage in the force’s development was rationalization. “Bases need to be located to support the local requirement. We know where the true demands are now,” he said, adding that there was over capacity in some areas, especially where air support units from different constabularies had been geographically located in close proximity to each other. He said by inheriting all of the contracts within one agency, NPAS was currently saving around $3.2 million (£2 million) per year. However, such a national organization could now work with the benefits of fixed wing aircraft and were looking at buying six airplanes which did mark a change in strategy, although they would still work alongside rotorcraft.

On the second day Thomas Gnägi from Rega in Switzerland discussed the planning of a new low flight network in Switzerland, and Nilton Alves, director of teaching at EFAI (the civil aviation school Ltda) in Brazil, gave an overview of Brazilian helicopter air operations where the average is 500 flight hours per year, per aircraft, among police air units. He has clocked-up 5,800 flying hours, of which 3,400 hours was earned flying 25 different types of helicopters. Alves represented one of ADAC’s customers from South America.

A 35 x full HD 72 MegaPixel display from an Institute for Visual Computing presentation.

Konstantin Chudnyy, deputy chief pilot with the Moscow Aviation Center revealed how a decision in 2000, following a major fire in a skyscraper, saw the establishment of dedicated helicopter capability for firefighting and rescue in Moscow city center. At his disposal are helicopters ranging from the Kamov 32A, through the BK117 and Bell 429, right up to an Mi-26T, the latter of which can collect then distribute up to 15 tons of water through a VSU-15A water flushing device. Two discussions toward the end of the second day focused on the dangers posed to helicopter pilots by remotely piloted aircraft, particularly in lower airspace.

Tobias Schönherr of the German Border Police said that there had been 2000 ‘allowances’ to fly unmanned craft of between 5-25 kg in Germany in the last year, but there were many more flights than that. These varied from commercial use to private owners. He said that unmanned aircraft were not allowed to fly above individual people, accidents or larger incidents were the authorities had control.

From the Ministry of Transport figures for 2013, he said 98 percent were rotary unmanned platforms, with only a very small fixed wing element. But for the time, only one percent of the total was above 25 kgs in weight, although there is still no license to operate at this weight and above.

Marc Fahning of ADAC Luftrettung said, “In Germany, a differentiation had to be made between recreational and commercial use” of such aircraft. One of the models he brought in was just under 5 kgs but could travel 100 knots. Permission was required for 5-25 kg remotely piloted aircraft. Above that a license is required. One surprise for most delegates was that, according to Fahning, “everything that flies outside needs insurance…and even manned aircraft have to give them right of way.”

He said that a working group had been set up within the company, together with military and police operators, to discuss the threat and raise public awareness about the problems that these unmanned aircraft they can cause.

Unmanned vehicles have to be integrated into civilian airspace, he stated. “Right now the makers of these aircraft want to sell their product and are pleased that we are attending their meetings, he said. “All things flying should need anti-collision lights and markings of ownership,” so every system flying could be identified.

At the end of the formal part of the conference, the delegates were taken to the Institute for Visual Computing at the University Bonn-Rhein-Sieg in Bonn to be shown what could be a glimpse into the future of visual training.

The Institute’s director, Professor André Hinkenjann, had set up an extraordinarily bank of 7 x 5 high-definition screens at 72 MegaPixel resolution. The images shown were outstandingly detailed, with delegates familiar with flight training simulation systems being thoroughly impressed with the level of resolution that such a large system could deliver. From space the system could identify streets in New York or show the contours around the hill on which the Christ the Redeemer statue is mounted in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil.

Next year’s ADAC conference will once again be held during the first week of September 2015.


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