LCDR Jeffrey Choat | HMAS Albatross
The second and third Airbus EC135 helicopters of Joint Project 9000 Phase 7 have arrived in Nowra, NSW, and will form one of the key elements of aircrew training for Defence aviators.
The brand new aircraft are part of the cutting-edge Helicopter Aircrew Training System provided by Boeing Defence Australia that includes 15 aircraft, three full-motion EC135 simulators, tactical part-task trainers and other synthetic training devices. The system will prepare Navy and Army aviators for transition to the latest advanced combat helicopters that are now in service.
Both the Navy Squirrel and Army Kiowa aircraft will be replaced by the training system and will be operated by Navy, Army and civilian instructors. Leading the team will be Commander Pete Wynter as Commanding Officer of 723 Squadron, before the baton is handed over to Commander Bruce Willington in mid 2017. Major Anton Leshinskas provides Army experience and value as the officer-in-charge of the EC135 flight.
The next stage of the project will deliver state-of-the-art facilities in late 2016, ready for the first aircraft type conversions to commence in 2017 and training validation ready for the first Navy and Army students to commence training in January 2018.
In its mature state, the Helicopter Aircrew Training System will have the capacity to train up to 130 students a year as pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen and sensor operators.
This article first appeared in Navy Daily on 8th July