CH-47 c1: Disorientation in brown-out conditions

In this training course, pilots and loadmasters fly missions with (heavy) brown-out conditions in the take-offs and landings. To minimise the disorienting effects of impaired vision due to dust, standard procedures should be followed. It is demonstrated that although disorientation can be severe, adhering to the procedures for brown-out conditions minimizes the risks. The training scenario’s are based on real-life experiences of military helicopter pilots in Iraq and Afganistan.

Training goal

To make crews aware of the different disorienting effects of taking off and landing in the dust, and the mitigating effect of following procedures to avoid losing spatial awareness.

Key learning points

  • Awareness of disorienting effects of dust clouds
  • Type-specific procedures for brown-out take-offs and landings
  • Effect of wind in planning for operations in dust conditions

Mission description

The training starts with a number of take-offs and landings in (heavy) brown-out conditions alongside a runway (in flat terrain), in order to refresh the procedures. The instructed method is based on the GATE procedure, in which the landing is initiated at 100ft 30kts (the GATE). Effects of different wind directions are demonstrated, as well as the disorienting effect of a moving dust cloud on perception.

Then, a MEDEVAC operation in a hot and mountainous environment is flown. Three relatively difficult landings and take-offs are performed during which the pilot has to consider the type of terrain, dust conditions and the time in order to make the right decisions.


Course duration: 2 hours (briefing, training, de-briefing)
Crew: pilot(s) and loadmaster(s)