Specialised crane for rescue training

South African crane manufacturer Condra has been appointed mechanical subcontractor to MH Automation for the University of Johannesburg’s new Rescue Simulation Centre under construction on Doornfontein Campus.

The company is to supply the Centre with a specialised crane to replicate helicopter motion by lifting, rotating and tilting an actual fuselage. The 5-ton double-girder electric overhead travelling crane will also position helicopter underwater escape training (HUET) simulator equipment. The Centre will train helicopter crews and emergency personnel in aviation rescue under a wide range of simulated weather and flying conditions.

Condra will work closely with MH Automation to fulfil the contract, the latter company designing and supplying the crane’s complex electronics and control systems for motion simulation. Project handover is scheduled for July of 2023.

A four-storey-high building with six-metre-deep wave pool is already under construction at the Centre. After equipping with an AS365 Dauphin helicopter fuselage supplied by Airbus Helicopters, the crane will simulate the operational conditions of a machine hovering over either water or land by manipulating the lifting points of the suspended airframe.

UJ’s Rescue Simulation Centre will be Africa’s biggest search-and-rescue training facility, delivering at a single site a broad spectrum of staged situational environments, including rescue from a submerged vehicle and/or airframe. MH Automation’s electronic systems and Condra’s overhead crane will be key to these simulations, complemented by replicated lightning, wind, and rain. A high-speed fan fitted above the overhead crane will deliver pseudo rotor downwash to make training conditions as close to real as possible. There will be a wave simulator to produce the disrupted water surfaces of flood conditions.

The AS365 Dauphin airframe and HUET simulator will be stored in tandem on a raised platform above the pool area, the crane positioning them as required.

Condra’s contract provides for the supply of several key components to the Rescue Simulation Centre: the crane itself with hoists to simulate helicopter motion in the hover, the crane gantry, the mechanism for helicopter rotation, and fans and lighting for downdraught and different daylight conditions.

Additionally, Condra will fabricate frames for fitting to the helicopters to facilitate their hoisting. Crews and rescue personnel will board the helicopter, which the crane will then lift into position as required, manipulating it to simulate the motion and rotational movement of helicopter flight by means of the rotating mechanism and the hoists that will lift and lower the frame’s ends.

Control of all airframe movement from the Centre’s floor will be by radio remote joystick via IGBT (insulated gate bipolar transistor) variable-speed drive controls fitted to the hoist motors and provided by MH Automation.

MH Automation will also design and supply all other controls for safe and reliable crane operation.

With the Rescue Simulation Centre contract involving several engineering disciplines, there are ongoing meetings between campus staff and representatives of Condra, MH Automation, Airbus and the South African Police Service Air Wing, so that aviation technology is correctly integrated with the disciplines of mechanical and electrical engineering to make the simulated scenarios as close to reality as possible.

The AS365 Dauphin airframe and HUET are expected to arrive in April, after which the crane will be tested at Condra’s workshop prior to installation and commissioning. 

Immediately prior to the Centre’s official opening, Condra and MH Automation will train the client in crane operation, including how to exchange the different airframes used for rescue training and underwater escape.

Visit Condra’s website: www.condra.co.za

Issued on behalf of Condra (Pty) Ltd

Further information:  Marc Kleiner (managing director)

Telephone:  +27 11 776-6000

Fax:  +27 86 669-2372

E-mail:  sales@condra.co.za