Minister of Defence, The Honourable Marise Payne, and the local member for Gilmore, Ann Sudmalis inspected the progress of the $157 million Helicopter Aircrew Training System and the Fleet Air Arm's operational 816 Squadron at HMAS Albatross recently.
Since its beginning in September 2015 the Training System facility has developed considerably with the majority of infrastructure now underway.
Albatross will become the home for initial helicopter training for all Navy and Army aircrew and will allow for a higher level of training prior to conversion to operational flying squadrons such as those that fly the MRH-90 Taipan and MH-60R Romeo helicopters.
The project includes a new training centre with three flight simulators, refurbished hangars and workshops, new living accomodation and a new aircraft type, the EC-135T2 helicopter.
Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn said that the facility will allow for streamlined training that incorporates and embraces high fidelity simulation.
"We will embrace the levels of simulator training previously reserved for front line types right from the beginning of an aviator’s rotary wing transition training, ” he said.
“This enables students to experience the skills necessary to manage complex flight operations and emergencies in a safe environment where the overall learning value is enhanced and strengthen the in-aircraft airborne learning experience.”
As part of the visit, Minister Payne experienced a 'flight' in the EC135T2 simulator.
“The simulation was very realistic and training on these systems will benefit our operational capability. The more training that we do in this context, which is so real, the more operational availability we will have,” Minister Payne said.
“It made a real difference for me to see first hand something that until now had only been a brief on paper; it brought the technical aspects of the project alive.”
In full flight, the training facility has a training capacity of up to 130 students a year from both the Navy and Army.
That student body will be made up of pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewman and loadmasters, as well as qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.