The recent announcement that the Bell 429 helicopters operated under Navy’s Retention and Motivation Initiative 2 (RMI 2) have had a capability upgrade was welcomed by 723 Squadron.
723 Squadron's primary focus is on training and it is here that all pilots, observers and aircrew undertake conversion training from fixed wing to rotary wing aircraft. The RMI program enables junior qualified aircrew to consolidate and enhance their skills whilst awaiting operational flying training.
RMI Officer in Charge, LCDR Steve Hancock said the upgrade allows the Bell 429 to operate with a 500 pounds (226.8 kilograms) increase in internal gross weight. This will enhance capability as it will enable the aircraft to fly further and for longer while carrying more people.
“Having an extra 500 pounds weight capacity is the equivalent of an extra hours fuel or two people for the same time. The extra fuel gives us the capacity to more efficiently achieve RMI training sorties.”
LCDR Hancock said he considered the flexibility to take on extra fuel in poor weather and still achieve training outcomes as one of the biggest benefits of the upgrade but he was anticipating others. “The RMI has been a very successful initiative enabling young aircrew to maintain currency and build their skills on a twin engined modern glass cockpit helicopter. This increase in the aircraft's capability has seen its utility increase considerably and will be very valuable for tasking especially during the upcoming IFR celebrations.”
The RMI 429s’ avionics has also been upgraded with the addition of a Helicopter Terrain Awareness and Warning System.
Imagery is available on the Royal Australian Navy Media Library at http://images.navy.gov.au/S20130886.