Liftoff nears for state-of-the-art helicopter training facility

Published on LCDR Jeffrey Choat (author), Unknown (photographer)

Location(s): Nowra, New South Wales

Topic(s): HMAS Albatross, MRH-90 Taipan, MH-60R Seahawk, CH-47F Chinook

 (photo: )

Construction of a multi-million-dollar helicopter training facility that will ensure Navy and Army aircrews remain at the cutting edge of military aviation achieved a milestone this month.

Less than two years after the Australian Government gave the go-ahead for the Helicopter Aircrew Training System at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, contractors have completed building the new facility and commenced the installation of state-of-the-art simulators.

Project Director, Mr Stu Harwood, said the system would be "world class" once completed.

It will replace the long-serving Navy Squirrel and Army Kiowa helicopters, said commissioning Commanding Officer, Commander Bruce Willington.

"The simulators and synthetic training reduce the number of replacement aircraft required and provide very realistic but safe environments to conduct complex evolutions, such as emergency handling exercises, and remove the need to deploy for high-altitude mountain flying," Commander Willington said.

"Our military instructors will work as a team with Boeing Defence Australia instructors and staff to ensure Australian Defence Force rotary wing aircrews are properly resourced and trained to perform the difficult tasks they are often called on to complete."

Boeing Defence Australia will provide the Helicopter Aircrew Training System.

The facility will train Navy and Army personnel for transition to the fleet of combat helicopters, such as the MRH-90 Taipan, MH-60R Seahawk Romeo, Tiger Armed Reconnaissance Helicopter and CH-47F Chinook.

It will include three full-motion helicopter simulators, virtual reality systems for practising aircraft marshalling and air gunnery, and tactical part task trainers.

Fifteen Airbus EC-135 training helicopters will also be delivered, the first of which arrived in April.

Accommodation for 130 students per year is being built at Albatross, along with construction of a flying operations support building at nearby Jervis Bay airfield.

The fully furnished simulator spaces and remaining buildings will be formally handed over to Defence in December, ready to start instructor training in January 2017.

Aircrew students will get their hands on the new aircraft and simulators in 2018.