Sycamore takes pilot training to a new level

Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army pilots can now be put through a full gamut of training scenarios thanks to a new-generation Multi-role Aviation Training Vessel (MATV), MV Sycamore.

MV Sycamore is being used as a major training tool for pilots at the new the Joint Helicopter School at HMAS Albatross.

Instructors from 723 Squadron, the home of the joint school, have started training with the RAN’s new vessel, undertaking the first deck landings in the new EC-135 helicopters.

It was also the first time MV Sycamore conducted deck landing training.

Maritime Aviation Warfare Officers and Aircrewman trainees on basic course will also benefit from the innovative new vessel.

“More than 40 deck landings were made and five instructors achieved their deck landing qualifications,” 723 Squadron Commanding Officer, Commander Bruce Willington said.

“This was the realisation of hard work and dedication by several organisations and personnel over the course of many years.

“The initial focus is train-the-trainer flying for all Australian Defence Force and Boeing Defence Australia instructors prior to starting student instruction next year.

“Some of these instructors have never conducted deck landings in a helicopter before, these are challenging and demanding training evolutions for both the aircraft and the crew.

“Something like flying the aircraft to a rolling and pitching platform requires extreme concentration and the skills to ensure success. Completing these challenging serials in one of the most demanding environments for helicopter aircrew is immensely rewarding.”

CMDR Willington described Sycamore as “a key enabler to 723 Squadron.”

“Sycamore’s primary role is to support maritime aviation training which represents a unique collaboration between the RAN, Teekay Shipping (Australia) who crew, operate and maintain the vessel and OPSTAR who provide the flight deck operational support team,” he said.

In addition to helicopter deck landings, the MATV can be used for training in helicopter refuelling operations and air traffic control.

It will allow navy to undertake a range of other operations including weapons recovery and mine warfare training support, navigation training and dive support and humanitarian aid.

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