Plenty of air time for helicopter fleet

THE Fleet Air Arm has notched up 10,399 hours of air time during the 2013–2014 financial year, the highest number of flying hours since 1991.

Fleet Air Arm Commander Commodore Vince Di Pietro said it had been a terrific year for the FAA, achieved with a mix of old and new platforms.

“Our people and all who support naval aviation have achieved 97 per cent of our total flying hour allocation for the year,” Commodore Di Pietro said.

“This is significant, when you consider we are operating aircraft at both ends of their operational life cycle; a couple of ‘mature and seasoned’ aircraft types, one contracted helicopter and two acquisitions yet to achieve initial operating capability.”

The Fleet Air Arm’s S-70B-2 Seahawk and AS350BA Squirrel helicopters have been in service for 25 and 35 years respectively.  

Three Bell 429s are leased from Raytheon Australia as part of the navy’s Retention and Motivation Initiative program, while new squadron 725 is preparing to bring MH60R Seahawk Romeo maritime combat helicopters to Australia by the end of the year from the United States where the squadron has been learning to fix and fly the newest addition to the FAA. 

And 808 Squadron operates six MRH90 aircraft, which are in the process of being introduced into service.

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