A System Dynamics Model for Helicopter Operations
The introduction of armed reconnaissance helicopters into the Australian Army will add not merely a new platform, but a completely new capability to the Land Force. As such, many issues need to be sorted out before it can be effectively employed. For example, current organisation structures and doctrines will need to evolve in order to meet these new requirements. This calls for a better understanding of the dynamic behaviour of helicopter operations as a system, reexamining the way it operates and identifying deficits. Here the major concern is the total system behaviour, not a detailed study of individual entities. To address this issue, this paper develops a system dynamics model for helicopter operations. It first examines interrelationships of various elements of the system by constructing an influence diagram, so as to capture the essence of the system and understand the total system’s dynamic behaviour. Then a quantitative model is built and computer simulations carried out to identify deficits and bottlenecks, where further resources, and possible changes of operational procedures or policies, are required to improve the system’s performance. Finally the model’s behaviour is optimised against an objective function and the significance of the results explained. This process shows that a system dynamics model can be used to determine the optimal platform and crewmember ratio, and reveals the potential problems that can be caused by an inadequate maintenance sector. Further work may involve a more detailed model of the maintenance sector, which takes into account the issues such as personnel training level and spare parts stocks. It also shows the usefulness of system dynamics modelling in determining pressure points and the role it can play as a test bed for decision makers with regard to military operations.
Keywordssystem dynamics helicopter operations influence diagram simulation
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