A team of instructors from 723 Squadron recently visited HMAS Waterhen in Sydney to inspect Defence’s new multi-role aviation training vessel, MV Sycamore.
The visit was in preparation for first-of-class flight trials for the new EC-135 helicopter being delivered as part of the Helicopter Aircrew Training System.
Incoming Commanding Officer for the squadron, Commander Bruce Willington, outlined some of the benefits Sycamore will bring.
“Sycamore will be a game-changing capability for aircrew training in the Australian Defence Force,” Commander Willington said.
“Having a dedicated flight deck equipped vessel to train our aircrew saves time and money.
“We will qualify Pilots, Aviation Warfare Officers, and Aircrewmen to operate helicopters, including from ships, and deliver them to Navy and Army squadrons ready for conversion to operational aircraft types,” Commander Willington said.
Before aircrew training will commence in January 2018, a group of test pilots and engineers from the Royal Australian Navy Aviation Maintenance and Flight Trials Unit will conduct deck landings and other aviation serials through September and October aboard Sycamore to develop deck operating limits.
Helicopter instructor qualification training will take place later this year before the first aircrew courses use the vessel in the winter period.
Fifteen EC-135 aircraft have been acquired as part of a project, to replace the legacy Navy AS350BA Squirrel and Army Bell 206B-1 Kiowa based training systems.
The EC-135 helicopters, along with a suite of simulators and part task trainers will be used to train all Australian Defence Force rotary-wing aircrew from January.
Sycamore is named after the very first helicopter acquired by the Royal Australian Navy back in 1953, the Bristol Sycamore. As the term multi-role suggests, the ship will also be used for other training programs including basic training, mine warfare, diving and weapons recovery.