Up, up and away for new defence helicopter trainer

NEW MACHINE: Tim Leonard,  Rob Starks, Major Anton Leshinskas and Lieutenant Commander Tony Hammond infront of the EC-135T2 Helicopter after conducting flight trials at HMAS Albatross. Photo: Sarah Ebsworth

NEW MACHINE: Tim Leonard, Rob Starks, Major Anton Leshinskas and Lieutenant Commander Tony Hammond infront of the EC-135T2 Helicopter after conducting flight trials at HMAS Albatross. Photo: Sarah Ebsworth

It was up, up and away for the EC-135T2 helicopter, the latest aircraft to be acquired by the Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army as part of the new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS).

The first aircraft lifted off from HMAS Albatross on Thursday with the first tranche of flying instructors from the navy, army and Boeing Defence Australia.

The modern twin engine helicopter will provide a generational change in training to what both army and navy have been able to achieve with existing training systems.

Senior army instructor, Major Anton Leshinskas said it was exciting to be part of the team to have started flying operations.

“The EC-135T2 is a great aircraft to fly and it is exciting to be part of the initial team of instructors getting this training system off the ground,” he said.

“We are now on the path to realising an excellent training capability for both army and navy.”

The EC-135T2 helicopter will provide the live training environment as part of the new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) being delivered under Joint Project 9000 Phase 7 by both Boeing Defence Australia and Thales Australia.

Helicopter Aircrew Training System pilot instructor, Lieutenant Commander Tony Hammond said the aircraft would deliver state of the art, contemporary training.

“The array of systems imbedded in the new EC-135T2 means that we are going to be able to much better prepare aircrew for the more complicated operational helicopters that they will then transition to,” LCDR Hammond said.

“The HATS concept is all about providing better training in a more efficient manner.”

Along with a suite of simulator training devices, the EC-135T2 will provide initial helicopter conversion training to army and navy pilots and aircrewmen, along with navy aviation warfare officers and sensor operators.

The first students will start training on the EC-135T2 in 2018, with the focus now on aircraft familiarisation and training design efforts.

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