THIS WEEK IN MIDWEEK UPDATE
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This week in aviation history
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7 February: SAAF Museum flying training and open days. Contact Capt. Kobus Kapp 012 351 2342 or E-mail: email@example.com
7 February: MISASA Best of the Best at Kitty Hawk Wings - Wheels - Water Showcase. Contact: John Boucher e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org Cell: 082 553 1105 or Alan McKenzie e-mail: email@example.com Cell: 082 373 4947
12 February: EAA Aviation Legends Talk Show EAA Auditorium, Rand Airport. Guests: Ex RAF Bomber Command "V" Force officers Louis Nel and Colin Francis. For more information contact firstname.lastname@example.org
27 February-1 March February: Swellengrebel fly-in. Contact Pieter Venter email@example.com Cell: 083 250 9504
28 February: Bethlehem Aero Club annual Sling, Bushbaby and chopper fly-in. Contact Izak Venter e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Francois Marais e-mail: email@example.com
7 March: SAAF Museum flying training and open days. Contact Capt. Kobus Kapp 012 351 2342 or E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
7 March: SAPFA Fun Rally Stellenbosch. Contact Alewyn Burger email email@example.com
7 March: Coves Breakfast Fly-in. Contact Rudi Geyling 0832459955 or firstname.lastname@example.org
21 March: SAPFA Fun Rally Virginia Airport. Contact Mary de Klerk e-mail: email@example.com
21 March; Touring Motor Glider Fly-in Kittyhawk. 2015. Contact Marietjie van Niekerk 0827656670 firstname.lastname@example.org
21-22 March: RV's at Parys. Pylon event, a formation competition, an aerobatics event (competition?) as well as possibly a "best build" competition. Contact Scully Levin e-mail: email@example.com
27 March: Bethlehem fly-in and Riana Nel show. Contact Jacolene Jacobs 082 854 1003
28 March: Bethlehem Aero Club fun navigation rally. Contact Izak Venter e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org or Francois Marais e-mail: email@example.com or
27 - 28 March: Uitenhage Wings & Wheels festival. Contact Lourens Kruger 082 320 2615 Website: www.wingsandwheelsfestivalutenhage.co.za
28 - 29 March: Sports Aerobatics Club North-West regionals - Klerksdorp. Contact Annie Boon firstname.lastname@example.org
4 April: SAAF Museum flying training and open days. Contact Capt. Kobus Kapp 012 351 2342 or E-mail: email@example.com
11 April: Fashkosh (Stellenbosch) Website: www.stelfly.co.za Contact Alewyn Burger Alewyn@burger.org.za Cell: 082 416 1951
11 April: Henley Air Annual Skills Day at Rand Airport.
15 to 18 April: AERO Friedrichshafen dedicates itself in offering a significant collection of aviation related products and accessories. Exhibitors will be showing engines, modern ultra-lights, powered aircraft, avionics and related products and services. Over the years, this show has gained huge reputation from all over the world and the positive reaction from the attendees has motivated the exhibitors to improve the existing range and manufacture more such effective spare parts and products. For further information on the tour African Pilot is planning please send an e-mail to Athol Franz: firstname.lastname@example.org. The idea is to get a package deal together for about 10 to 12 persons wishing to visit AERO Friedrichshafen.
17 & 18 April: Zebula airshow. Contact: Paul Weich 083 290 6525 e-mail: email@example.com or Chris Potgieter 083 314 1669 e-mail: ChrisPotgieter@flysaa.com
18 to 29 April: Sun 'n Fun Tour 2015, Lakeland, Florida, USA. Contact Neil Bowden: e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org .
Neil Bowden will once again be organising a tour to the USA's second largest fly-in, the Sun 'n Fun Fly-in and International Expo. In addition to the airshow, we will be arranging an excursion to the Kennedy Space Centre. A great new feature here is the Space Shuttle Atlantis exhibition building housing the original Atlantis Shuttle. Also planned is a visit to the Kermit Weeks Fantasy of Flight Museum which is home to some very rare aircraft and while we are in the area there are planned visits to the theme parks - Disney and Universal. The price is from R14 750 per person plus airport tax (about R7 400).
25 April - 2 May: 8th NAC Fly Away Namibia. Contact Deneys Potgieter 082 891 4354 or email@example.com
29 April-3 May: Aero Club Air week at Parys airfield contact Kev Storie 011 082 1100 Website: www.aeroclub.org.za
1 - 2 May: Lowveld Airshow (Nelspruit) Cell: 079 499 5733 Contact Willemien Hodgkinson e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
8 - 9 May: SAAF Museum Swartkops Airshow, Pretoria Contact Lt. Col Mike O'Connor e-mail: email@example.com Tel: 012 351 2290
8 - 10 May: Battlefields fly-in (Dundee) Lourens Roos 082 875 5419
E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org E-mail: email@example.com Website: www.battlefieldslodge.co.za
February 4 1949 - In the US, the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA) gives authorization for the full use of ground control approach (GCA) landing aids. These will be used only in conditions of poor visibility caused by fog or bad weather and comprise a ground radar system.
February 4 1902 - Charles Augustus Lindbergh, American pilot, was born (d. 1974. Charles Augustus Lindbergh, also known as "Lucky Lindy" and "The Lone Eagle, " was an American pilot famous for the first solo, non-stop flight across the Atlantic, from Roosevelt Field, Long Island to Paris 1927 in the "Spirit of St. Louis. "
February 5 1967 - Launch of Lunar Orbiter 3, NASA spacecraft designed to photograph areas of the lunar surface for confirmation of safe landing sites for the Surveyor and Apollo missions. It was also equipped to collect selenodetic, radiation intensity, and micrometeoroid impact data.
February 6 1971 - Alan Shepard makes a historical golf drive on the moon.
February 6 1933 - Gayford and Nicholetts make the first non-stop flight from England to South Africa in a Fairey Long-Range Monoplane. The 5,309 mile (8,544 km) flight is a new distance record. They take 57 hours 25 min.
February 8 1988 - The Federal Aviation Administration retires an aircraft registration number for the first time - That of Amelia Earhart's airplane, which disappeared over the Pacific in July 1937.
February 8 1928 - Charles Lindbergh with the Spirit of St Louis completes the 7,800-mile (12,600 km) "Good Will Tour" of Latin America and the Caribbean after having spent 125 hours in the air.
February 9 1971 - Apollo 14 returns to earth following the third manned Moon mission.
February 9 1969 - First flight of the Boeing 747 "Jumbo Jet" airliner takes place in Seattle, Washington. The wide-bodied, long-range transport is capable of carrying 347 passengers, and is the largest aircraft in commercial airline service in the world.
February 9 1939 - Alex Henshaw sets a new speed record for the round trip between England and Cape Town in 4 days 10 min in a Percival Mew
February 9 1936 - Tommy Rose lands at Wingfield Aerodrome in Cape Town, South Africa, after a record flight from England of 3 days 17 hours 38 min.
February 10 1929 - Evelyn "Bobbi" Trout broke the record for the first all-night flight by a woman as well as and the new women's solo endurance record flying more than 17 hours in an open cockpit Bruner Winkle biplane .Trout flew from Mines Field USA.
February 10 1923 - An experimental night flight arrives to Le Bourget, France, from Croydon, England. The pilot has given his position by radio and used the aviation light beacons to make his approach.
SOUTH AFRICAN AIRWAYS ADVISES CUSTOMERS THAT HAND LUGGAGE ALLOWANCES WILL BE ENFORCED
South African Airways (SAA) would like to advice customers that hand luggage regulations as dictated by the South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA) and supported by the airport authority in Johannesburg will be enforced.
Although other airline customers may take only 7kg on board as hand luggage, SAA has an exemption from SACAA and SAA customers may take cabin baggage weighing up to 8kg. However, the number of pieces and sizes must be adhered to. No bag should exceed 56cm x 36cm x 23cm (total dimensions of 115cm) or weigh more than 8kg per bag.
SAA customers are advised as follows:
? Economy-class customers are allowed one bag plus one slimline laptop bag.
? Business customers are allowed two bags plus one slimline laptop bag.
Slimline laptop bags must be of a size and thickness specifically designed to carry a laptop and charger. Handbags are considered part of a customer's wardrobe and not as hand baggage.
Baggage capable of carrying other items such as documents and clothes are considered as cabin baggage and would therefore not be allowed if the customer is exceeding the allowance. If hand luggage does not comply, the customer will be referred back to the check-in counters to check in the baggage as hold baggage. Extra fees may apply, as per SAA guidelines.
Customers are also advised that the enforcement of these regulations may result in some delays at security check points. SAA urges all customers to check in well in advance and to stick to the cabin baggage regulations.
BOTSWANA'S POLICE AIR SUPPORT BRANCH ORDERS THREE AS350 B3E FROM AIRBUS HELICOPTERS
Botswana's Police Service today signed for a contract for three new AS350 B3e 'Ecureuil" Airbus Helicopters aircraft for its Police Air Support Branch.
The new helicopters will be customised to the Botswana Police Service's specification, including the installation of night vision equipment for night-time operations and other law enforcement equipment. The start of delivery of the new aircraft is scheduled for later in 2015.
The additional helicopters with their enhanced capability will fulfil Botswana's requirement for an expanded airborne law enforcement and crime prevention force.
© Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa Pty Ltd. Airbus Helicopters Southern Africa General Manager, Arnaud Montalvo said: "We are proud to continue our relationship with the Botswana Police Air Support Unit and that it has selected the AS350 B3e, which has a proven pedigree in police missions - especially in hot and high conditions typical of the much of Botswana. We are confident these aircraft will make an enormous contribution to safeguarding the citizens of Botswana and their property".
In addition to the helicopters, Airbus Helicopters will also train Botswana Police Air Support Branch pilots and mechanics.
The AS350 B3e is a member of Airbus Helicopters rugged and proven Ecureuil family and was selected for its unmatched performance and efficiency in Botswana's typically hot and high elevation conditions. Its Turboméca Arriel 2D turbine engine generates greater power, giving the helicopter unmatched manoeuvrability, performance and payload versatility in comparison with other similar size machines.
Around the world, including Southern Africa, Airbus Helicopters' products are the top-performing aircraft in their class and a firm favourite with law enforcement agencies. Like Botswana, the police in South Africa, Namibia and Angola have all selected Airbus Helicopters equipment, including numerous AS350 B2, B3 and B3e variants.
Worldwide, to date, Airbus Helicopters has sold more than 5,800 Ecureuil family aircraft (4, 900 are In-service), - including more than 1600 (1152 B3 / 476 B3e) B3 series machines - to some 1,800 operators in 120 countries, including numerous law enforcement and civic agencies.
DAHER-SOCATA ANNOUNCED THE DELIVERY OF 51 NEW TBM 900S IN 2014
DAHER-SOCATA announced the delivery of 51 new TBM 900s in 2014, which represented a 27-percent increase from 2013 for the family of very fast turboprop aircraft.
With an order intake for 64 aircraft in 2014, it was the best year ever in terms of TBM sales volume, and the second best year for the company's aircraft program since 1990.
Used aircraft market has been also active. In total, when adding used aircraft to the new business for TBM 900s, DAHER-SOCATA handled some 150 aircraft transactions during the year.
This increased activity followed DAHER-SOCATA's introduction of the TBM 900 model in March 2014 - the latest addition to the company's very fast turboprop aircraft family, incorporating enhancements that include aerodynamic optimization, a five-blade composite propeller and redesigned spinner, complete nose-to-firewall redesign for improved engine airflow circulation, enhanced human-machine interface features, a completely revamped electrical system and increased passenger comfort.
"2014 was one of the best years in the history of our TBM program, bolstered by the TBM 900's launch and its generation of new sales," stated Stephane Mayer, the President and CEO of DAHER-SOCATA. "Our decision to develop the TBM 900 was confirmed by the praise from customers and the media - who have described it as 'a remarkable aircraft.' This is a great success for DAHER-SOCATA's teams and our global network, and I am pleased to be part of it."
The majority of TBM 900s purchased in 2014 were for customers in the U.S. and Canadian markets (representing 78 percent), while new business also came from other key aviation regions of the world. South America accounted for 10 percent, mostly in Brazil; Europe was next, with 8% of the sales; and Asia-Pacific represented the remaining 4%.
"This impressive sales success is the compensation for a more than three-year development program that has made the TBM 900 the ultimate very fast turboprop aircraft," said Nicolas Chabbert, Senior Vice-President of the DAHER-SOCATA Airplane Business Unit. "I want to thank all customers who selected the TBM 900, as well as those who bought a used TBM. In addition, my appreciation goes to the DAHER-SOCATA teams, partners and our worldwide network for their constant commitment in satisfying the customers."
The TBM 900 deliveries in 2014 bring total TBM-series aircraft received by customers to 713 units, with this global fleet accumulating more than 1.2 million flight hours as of January 15.
A FIRST IN AVIATION - WOMEN MAKE THE GRADE
2015 is a very special year for twenty-four (24) young matriculants, who have been given a once-in-a-life-time opportunity by Air Traffic and Navigation Services (ATNS) SOC, to undergo specialised aviation training - to become Air Traffic Controllers (ATCOs).
On Friday, the group completed an intensive four weeks induction course which included visits to airports in and around Gauteng. They have gone through a rigorous regime of assessments (including thorough medicals) in order to meet specified international requirements, to become ATCOs.
All are women.
As part of its recruitment drive, ATNS has put effective transformation programs in place, primarily to increase access to high quality training and skills development opportunities, which will enable women to effectively participate in the economy and reduce inequalities. ATNS' recruitment objectives are aimed at achieving the fundamental transformation of inequities linked to class, race, gender, age and disability in our society - to mention but one.
In the next two years, this group will go through a technology-intensive internationally-accredited Air Traffic Management (ATM) course - which will enable them to become fully fledged ATCOs.
Recent research regarding transformation indicates that the aviation industry still reflects huge disparities between men and women. "Occupations held by women, and non-white employees are located in the semi-skilled occupational levels. Notably, major changes have taken place in 'senior management' occupations. This category has gone through rapid transformation during the last decade or two, with the inclusion of more black employees as well as female, younger and intermediate skilled workforce" reads the paper. Changes in other occupational categories, particularly those related with technical skills, such as Air Traffic Control have been very limited.
A particular challenge facing the industry is increasing the participation of young people, particularly females in the technical occupational categories. Meeting the future demand of technical skills in the sector largely depends on the correction of these imbalances by critical role-players such as ATNS.
This intake is a first of its kind because historically, Air Traffic Control Officers (ATCOs) were integrated with other aviation careers streams - such as Aeronautical Information Management and Assistant Air Traffic Officers. This was as a result of a very low number of qualifying candidates.
ATR: RECORD YEAR IN TERMS OF SALES, DELIVERIES, TURNOVER AND BACKLOG
2014 was the best year in the aircraft manufacturer's history
The year 2014 ended for ATR beating last years' records in sales; deliveries, turnover and backlog. The aircraft manufacturer's sales increased to 160 aircraft, along with 120 options, exceeding the previous 2011 record (157 firm sales and 79 options). ATR also achieved a record turnover in 2014, reaching 1.8 billion dollars (1.63 billion in 2013), and increased its deliveries to 83 aircraft (compared with 74 in 2013). As a result of the extraordinary commercial year experienced by ATR, 2014 ended with 280 aircraft in its backlog, an end-of-year level never reached until now.
In 2014, ATR signed the largest cumulative order of its history, with a contract that brings the number of firm aircraft orders from the Indonesian airline Lion Air to one hundred. ATR also reached a major milestone in its history with the signing of the 1000th order for the ATR 72 which will fly the flag of Airlines PNG, the Papua New Guinea airline.
The 160 firm sales and 120 options represent nearly half the total sales of regional aircraft of below 90-seat capacity for the year. It reinforces the position of the ATR-600 as the regional aircraft of choice of airlines and leasing companies across the world. For the turboprop aircraft segment, these sales account for 80% of all the orders for the year.
The 83 deliveries in 2014 represent not only a new record for ATR but also an increase of more than 60% over the last five years (51 deliveries in 2010). This number of deliveries, which ranks first among all below-90-seat regional aircraft deliveries during the last year, enables ATR to pursue one of its main lines of development, namely the consolidation of its production ramp-up which will continue in 2015 and should enable it to exceed the 100 deliveries mark in 2016.
In 2014 ATR registered a new record turnover of 1.8 billion dollars. This financial performance will continue its upward trend in 2015, to tend to the ambitious figure of 2 billion dollars, due notably to the even higher delivery forecasts.
Since the start of the program in 1981, ATR has registered net orders for 1470 aircraft (470 ATR 42s and 1000 ATR 72s).
As at 31 December 2014, ATR had delivered 1190 aircraft (436 ATR 42s and 754 ATR 72s). These figures enable ATR to boast a new record: a backlog of 280 aircraft at the start of the year. The order book represents a value of 6.8 billion dollars, and means that ATR can guarantee nearly three years of production while continuing to increase its delivery rates.
Patrick de Castelbajac, Chief Executive Officer of ATR, is "delighted with ATR's excellent performance in 2014. Our aircraft are the undisputed world reference among regional airlines and aircraft leasing companies. Whether for their low operating costs, their reliability and versatility, or their small environmental footprint and value retention over time, ATRs today are the preferred aircraft of short-haul network operators. We continue to increase our production rates, develop our aircraft and expand our global footprint across the world with the aim of better serving our customers".
Moreover, with a view to creating ever-closer ties with its operators, ATR continued to build its presence across the world in 2014 by establishing new partnerships for pilot training in Bangkok and Bogota. ATR has also signed new maintenance contracts with the result that as of today, nearly two ATR -600s out of three in service are covered by this type of agreement with the manufacturer. ATR will continue to develop its global network in 2015 with the opening of a sales representation office in Tokyo and a new spare parts centre in Sao Paulo.
With regard to the ATR -600s, the latest members of its aircraft family, ATR continued to equip them with the most advanced technological innovations in 2014 so that they always remain at the cutting edge of modernity, performance and reliability. A new engine - the PW127N - has been certified, bringing with it 4.5% additional take-off power and thereby increasing aircraft performance in hot weather and at altitude. Furthermore, new functions have been developed for the ATR -600s' avionics, enabling them to follow more precise and even-safer approach flight paths thanks to satellite navigation, without the need for ground-based navigation aids and significantly reducing pilot workload.
AIRVENTURE TO HOST WORLD-RECORD SKY DIVING ATTEMPTS
Skydiving Hall of Fame to organize international teams of expert jumpers
Photo credit: Andrey VeselovJanuary 22, 2015 - A world record sky dive attempt will be part of EAA AirVenture Oshkosh 2015, with an international team of top sky divers aiming to make history at The World's Greatest Aviation Celebration.
The Skydiving Hall of Fame based in Fredericksburg, Virginia, will organize the 108-person jump team for the record attempts sanctioned by the Fédération Aéronautique Internationale (FAI), which is the official organization that maintains the world's aviation-related records. The teams will practice and prepare with record attempts at Skydive Chicago in Ottawa, Illinois, before the scheduled record attempts on July 22 and 24 at Oshkosh (weather and conditions permitting).
"Sky divers have been part of the EAA AirVenture air show for decades, but the opportunity to have a world-record attempt at Oshkosh is something unprecedented here, and very exciting," said Rick Larsen, EAA's vice president of communities and member programs, who leads the AirVenture event organizing team. "The Skydiving Hall of Fame is bringing the best of the best in their community to Oshkosh, matching the standard of performers that have made the AirVenture air show a true all-star event."
The Skydiving Hall of Fame team, known as the Eagles, will jump from as high as 20,000 feet from its Short SC.7 Skyvan and de Havilland DHC-6 Twin Otters to begin their record attempts. Any record would then be confirmed by FAI and its U.S. representative, the National Aeronautic Association (NAA).
"These seasoned sky divers, who are among the best in the world, face enormous challenges," said James F. "Curt" Curtis, president and CEO of the Skydiving Museum & Skydiving Hall of Fame. "To achieve an FAI world record while performing a high-profile professional exhibition requires extraordinary skill, talent, and focus. But the opportunity to attempt this at Oshkosh during AirVenture week is a unique moment for our community."
FLYDUBAI PLANE SHOT AT DURING BAGHDAD FLIGHT AMID IRAQ TURMOIL
A FlyDubai aircraft landed in Baghdad with damage to its fuselage that suggests the Boeing Co. (BA:US) 737 was shot at, the discount carrier said today.
An examination of the plane following yesterday's flight revealed damage "consistent with small arms fire," FlyDubai said in an e-mailed statement.
While passengers disembarked Flight FZ215 normally and no medical attention was required, the airline has suspended the daily Dubai-Baghdad service while the incident is investigated.
Emirates, the world's biggest international carrier and also based in Dubai, together with Abu Dhabi-based Etihad Airways and Air Arabia PJSC (AIRARABI) of Sharjah also canceled flights to Baghdad until further notice at the instruction of the United Arab Emirates civil aviation authority.
Lebanon's Middle East Airlines also scrapped its return flight to Baghdad today, according to the carrier's website.
Iraqi forces are fighting Islamic State militants who took over large swathes of the country in June. Still, the route from Dubai follows the Persian Gulf before aircraft entering Iraqi airspace near Basra, descending into Baghdad over territory not generally associated with militant activity.
Source: © Curt Lewis and Associates. www.curt-lewis.com
ALASKA AIR GROUP PURCHASES TWO MORE BOMBARDIER Q400 NEXTGEN AIRCRAFT
Bombardier Q400 NextGen in the livery of Alaska Air Group
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft announced that Seattle-based Horizon Air Industries, Inc. ("Horizon Air") has converted two of seven previously acquired Q400 NextGen aircraft options to firm orders. The airline retains its options on another five Q400 NextGen aircraft. Horizon Air and its sister carrier, Alaska Airlines are subsidiaries of Alaska Air Group.
Based on the list price of the Q400 NextGen aircraft, the purchase agreement is valued at approximately $70.1 million US.
"As we grow our operations, we continue to rely on the Q400 aircraft's versatility, speed and comfort to provide a satisfying experience for our customers," said David Campbell, President and Chief Operations Officer, Horizon Air. "In 2014, Horizon Air ventured into the Alaskan frontier, successfully launching the Q400 NextGen aircraft on new routes between Anchorage and Fairbanks, and Anchorage and Kodiak."
"Horizon Air is one of the most successful North American regional carriers and a marquee customer that continues to showcase the operational flexibility and performance capability of the Q400 aircraft," said Steve Young, Regional Vice President, Sales, North America, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft. "The Q400 aircraft has long been the backbone of Horizon Air's network success and continues to be the airline's choice as it increases its fleet to 54 aircraft. We are delighted that the Q400 aircraft retains its status as North America's preferred turboprop."
Horizon Air's Q400 aircraft are equipped with Head-up Guidance Systems (HGS) for all-weather operations, Wide Area Augmentation Systems (WAAS) with approach guidance (LPV) for ILS-like landing minima at remote runways and RNP AR 0.1 to fly curved approaches to airports in difficult terrain. The unmatched capability to land and take off on challenging runways in unsettled weather is another benefit of the Q400 aircraft.
Established in 1981, Horizon Air was acquired in 1986 by Alaska Air Group, Inc., the parent company of Alaska Airlines. At its start, the airline operated two aircraft and served three destinations in Washington State. Today, Horizon flies its 76-seat Q400 aircraft on behalf of Alaska Airlines and serves 43 cities in the western United States, Canada and Mexico. Horizon Air, which is also a codeshare partner of American Airlines and Delta Air Lines, operates both the longest (Seattle to Fresno, 748 miles/1,204 km) and shortest (Pullman to Lewiston, 26 miles/42 km) turboprop routes currently being served by regional carriers in the U.S.
In 2014, Bombardier and Horizon Air signed a five-year heavy maintenance agreement whereby Bombardier will perform heavy maintenance tasks for the airline's fleet of Q400 aircraft at Bombardier's service centre in Tucson, Arizona.
AUSTRALIAN MILITARY'S NEW EC135 T2+ TRAINING HELICOPTER TAKES TO AIR
The first EC135 T2+ helicopter in a planned fleet of modern, twin-engine, rotary-wing aircraft being acquired by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for its new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS), has successfully completed its first flight in Europe.
Under the HATS project, a joint training scheme for both Army and Navy aircrew will utilise some 15 Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ trainers, along with EC135 flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped, sea-going training vessel.
Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) is the prime contractor for the new training system, partnered by Thales Australia which will provide the flight simulators.
(© Airbus Helicopters, Charles Abarr)The first EC135 T2+ (Serial Nbr.1179) took off from the Airbus Helicopters' production site in Donauwörth, Germany, where the helicopter is assembled at 14.37 local time on 16th January and landed back on site 57 mins later.
The Airbus Helicopters Flight Test Department reported the successful first flight had validated the full performance of the aircraft's systems and engines, and that future flights would test specific customer equipment.
Said Peter Harris, Airbus Helicopters Head of Sales - Australia Pacific: "At Airbus Helicopters we are thrilled to have reached such a fantastic milestone in only two months from contract signing last November. This clearly demonstrates the commitment that we have towards supporting Boeing Defence Australia in meeting the ADF's needs for training all future combat helicopter aircrew for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. We will take all of our milestones just as seriously."
While the EC135 T2+ is a civil design helicopter, it has also proved to be a consummate military trainer. With a high-visibility glass cockpit, multi-axis auto-pilot and the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter replacing current single-engine types, it is similar to the multi-role and combat helicopters now in service with the ADF - including new-generation Tiger ARH and MRH90 helicopters - and meets all training, technical and safety requirements for future Army and Navy aircrews.
Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is scheduled for late 2018 although students will begin arriving earlier. When fully IOC the HATS system will accommodate up to 130 students a year covering pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.