New equipment to help navy pilots

NAVY helicopter crews will no longer have to “de-goggle” prior to landing on HMAS Newcastle after new equipment was fitted to the Adelaide Class Frigate.

Newcastle became the first Adelaide Class Frigate and the second RAN ship to be fitted with new aeronautical and general instruments visual landing aid equipment, designed to interface with the night vision equipment worn by navy helicopters crews. 

Personnel from 816 squadron at HMAS Albatross have completed training in the latest equipment.

The new externally fitted equipment includes a pilot information display, advanced stabilised glide slope indicator, modified stabilised horizon reference bar lighting, obstruction lights and helicopter in-flight refuelling lights.

New internal equipment includes an operator control device to provide the interface between the helicopter control officers and external equipment, as well as the remote panels the operations room, bridge and RAST (Recovery Assist Secure Transverse) control room.

Newcastle's flight control officer, Lieutenant Commander Chris Mitchell said the equipment would provide all users in key positions an indication of the deck status.

He said it would also allow crews to control wave-off lights, in the event approval to land was revoked due to a safety or operational requirement.

“Current night flying operations require aircrew to ‘de-goggle’ prior to recovery due to the type of lighting and visual landing aids ships currently have,” he said.

“This enhanced capability will allow navy pilots to conduct night launch, recovery and transfer operations while utilising night vision goggles.  

“The landing phase during helicopter operations is often the most challenging element of night flying and the having the ability to remain ‘on goggles’ will ultimately increase safety for all involved in embarked aviation operations.”

Members of the ship’s company, including helicopter control officers, landing safety officers, flight deck marshallers, flight deck team and a number of marine engineering maintenance personnel completed the two-day training course to become proficient in the use and maintenance of the new equipment. 

The training was delivered by Technical Support Supervisor of Naval Aviation Systems for AGI, Madoc Williams who flew out from London to specifically delivery the training. 

Members of 816 Squadron, aviation maintenance and flight test unit, fleet aviation and fleet engineering division also completed the training.   

The aviation maintenance and flight test unit will conduct flight trials with the new equipment as Newcastle completes its aviation sea safety assessment. 


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