Future ADF training helicopter arrives at HMAS Albatross

This article has photo gallery Published on Ms Dallas McMaugh (author), POIS Kelvin Hockey (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales

Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ N52-001 taxis its way down HMAS Albatross' airfield for the first time. (photo: POIS Kelvin Hockey)
Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ N52-001 taxis its way down HMAS Albatross' airfield for the first time.

The first of 15 Airbus EC135 helicopters has arrived at the Naval Air Station, HMAS Albatross, destined to train future Australian Defence Force aircrew.

The helicopter, in its gloss black and yellow livery, made a striking contrast as it flew past a matt grey Navy AS350 Squirrel, one of the aircraft it is destined to replace.

Joint Project 9000 Phase 7, the Helicopter Aircrew Training System, will procure a new training capability to prepare Navy and Army aviators for transition to the modern, technologically advanced combat helicopters now in service or entering service with the Australian Defence Force.

Mr Stuart Harwood, Project Director, said the Helicopter Aircrew Training System will present a quantum advance in initial helicopter aircrew training.

“Arrival of the first aircraft at Albatross, the future home of the Joint Helicopter School, is a highly visible milestone in the delivery of this exciting new defence training capability,” he said.

The training system will utilise a combination of live and synthetic training devices based around the Airbus helicopter’s modern, twin-engine EC135 and replace the Navy’s Squirrel and Army’s Kiowa helicopters which are more than 30 and 40 years old respectively.

The helicopter will remain the property of the prime contractor, Boeing Defence Australia, to support development, verification and validation of the training courseware before the commencement of flying training of Defence personnel planned for late 2018.

This year will see additional EC135 helicopters delivered to Nowra as well as the first of three Thales Reality H full flight simulators, the latter for installation in the purpose built training facilities currently being constructed at Albatross.

In its mature state, the Joint Helicopter School being established by the project will train up to 105 Navy and Army aircrew each year.  These aviators will go on to train in and subsequently crew the MH60R Seahawk, MRH90 Taipan, ARH Tiger and CH47F Chinook helicopters.