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Network for Innovative Training on ROtorcraft Safety

Periodic Reporting for period 2 - NITROS (Network for Innovative Training on ROtorcraft Safety)

Reporting period: 2018-11-01 to 2021-04-30

Helicopters are used in applications providing a valuable contribution to society and economic growth. Today, the service of helicopters includes, search and rescue, coastguard, firefighting, disaster relief, territorial control, monitoring and inspection, heavy-lift support to construction and other sectors, aerial filming and media support. In the future, helicopters and other vertical flight vehicles are expected to see widespread use. However, several issues are to be addressed to increase the use of rotorcraft. In particular, aspects related to complexity of the operations and safety are of primary importance, due to the fact that in the last 20 years helicopter accident rates remained unacceptably high, when compared to fixed-wing aircraft. The complexity of the phenomena involved in rotorcraft flight calls for the training of engineers with a genuine multidisciplinary background.
The goal of NITROS is to train a new generation of aerospace engineers capable of developing innovative approaches in a unique cross-disciplinary research and training program encompassing Control Engineering, Computational Fluid Dynamics (CFD), Modelling and Simulation, Structural Dynamics and Human perception cognition and action. NITROS objectives include:
1) Develop a detailed framework for rotorcraft modelling integrating rigid-body and aeroservoelastic modelling features capable of dealing with structural or propulsion/mechanical system failures in rotorcraft.
2) Understand how humans can safely and efficiently be interfaced with rotorcraft technology.
3) Enhance the understanding of the complex aerodynamic environment in which the rotorcraft are working, often in hostile conditions of wake encounter threats, interactions with obstacles, icing and brownout.
NITROS is expected to inject a fresh new safety-centred approach in the rotorcraft engineering community, aligned with the European Union endeavour to reduce the rate of aviation accidents. All these goals can be reached by exposing the young researches to a dynamic network composed by some of the most renewed European engineering schools and research centres working in the rotorcraft field along with industrial partners including manufacturers, operators and certification entities.
NITROS organized Three trainig schools dedicated to rotorcraft safety, 9 webinars with renewed international expert in the field of rotorcraft safety and 3 intenrational workshop. Ten Early Stage Reserachers have been trained to solve several rotorcraft safety design problems, inclusing aspects of rotorcraft icing, health monitoring, flight close to obstacles and wind turbines, brownout and whiteout, training for autorotation, human machine interface problems, rotorcraft pilot coupling problems and control allocation issues.
NITROS specific goals (training for multidisciplinarity, training to design for safety, innovation for safety and to create a network of excellence) were conceived with a view of injecting “safety vaccination” approach in the rotorcraft engineers' by training a highly skilled network of young researchers.
The first year of activity was mainly devoted to overcome administrative issues and to recruitment. In the following year, however, the action actually started to give its contribution to increase the safety awareness in the rotorcraft design community.

NITROS contributed to the creation of a new standard for rotorcraft operation to improve safety of flight like the EHOPS standard, interacting with major rotorcraft producers. Active participation to major rotorcraft events such as ERF and AHS Annual Forum enhanced NITROS impact and interaction with the rotorcraft community as a whole.

NITROS contributed to rise the interest of the scientific community of aerospace engineers for safety of rotorcraft. Since the start of NITROS it has been introduced the Safety session at ERF that is attracting more and more contributions, raising the interest for the subject and the approach followed by NITROS.
A helicopter performing SHOL testing