General Robotics Limited, the leading supplier of subsea simulation and visualisation software, has opened a ROV pilot support and assessment centre in Aberdeen, intended to help both individual pilots and ROV operators extend and evaluate piloting skills.
Carrying out objective assessments to consistent standards of inexperienced applicants for ROV Pilot/Technician training, and experienced contract hire pilots before they go offshore, is extremely difficult. GRL with the assistance of veteran ROV pilots and trainers has developed Assessment Metrics software which used with a ROVolution simulator, objectively assesses a pilot’s performance of key ROV flight manoeuvres such as maintaining a flight path and tether management. The software also evaluates core competencies, like the use of navigation aids, spatial awareness and time keeping.
ROV pilots at all levels must be at their best every time they take the controls, they are required to undertake more difficult tasks in ever deeper waters and with increasingly complex arrangements of equipment, cabling and vessels in the water at the same time. With a Work Class ROV costing upwards of £1.5m and ROV vessel day-rates in excess of £45,000, pilots and their employers are under unremitting pressure to perform.
A regular problem for trainee pilots is the lack of opportunity for hands on experience. The Centre offers preconfigured scenarios running on GRL’s simulators from basic offshore tasks to the most complex subsea interventions. Coupled with GRL’s model and simulation building services the centre can also play host to Pilot/Technicians familiarising themselves and rehearsing their next mission before going offshore.
GRL can speedily and cost-effectively turn clients’ inanimate subsea field and site engineering drawings into 3D models that are then pulled into the simulator’s scenario library. Pilots can call up the scenario and fly a mission. They can use the assessment tools and metrics to monitor their performance improvements as they familiarise themselves with the mission, the subsea site and the intervention tasks they are to perform.
“Simulator based training is becoming more and more a part of pilots’ lives, whether they are newcomers learning the ropes from scratch or veteran pilots familiarising themselves with their next offshore mission,” said Miller Crockart Head of Business Development at GRL. “We have designed a Pilot Training Metrics tool that allows the pilot and their trainer to analyse performance, so they can pinpoint where a pilot needs additional training or support. Pilot Metrics can show, for example, when a pilot needs help improving their tether management skills or on how to optimise their retention of a heading. Pilot Metrics allows the user to analyse a ROV flight in a way I believe has not been available before, and which will help the continuing drive to improve efficiency and performance, and allow training to be targeted on the needs of individual pilots. It also means pilots will be able to obtain objective feedback and benchmark their improvement over time”.
Well prepared pilots will be less stressed in ‘the chair’ and perform to the best of their abilities, confident in the knowledge they already have an appreciation of what they will face once offshore. With comprehensive training, employers will see the risk of offshore mission failure reduce and subsea intervention times come down. Employee relations should also improve as pilots see their employer investing in developing their skills.