The Australian Defence Force (ADF) has begun using Airbus EC135 T2+ flight simulators in the Helicopter Advanced Training System (HATS) facility at naval air station HMAS Albatross, located in New South Wales.
Airbus' EC135 T2+ has been designed to provide the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter, and will replace the Royal Australian Navy’s (RAN) current Squirrel and Australian Army’s Kiowa helicopters, which are more than 30 and 40 years old respectively.
The EC135 aircraft is mainly used by police, firefighting and ambulance services, as well as oil and gas platforms, and corporate transport worldwide.
HMAS Albatross Joint Helicopter School qualified flying instructor Army captain Adrian Ludman said: “The EC135 is an electronic-age modern helicopter with digital displays replacing the analogue instruments, and dual-certified global positioning system (GPS) navigation systems, allowing flight in-cloud with no requirement for ground-based navigation systems.
“The EC135s are fitted with winches and hoists and a hook for underslung loads and are capable of carrying up to six people, though in the training role it will carry four crew.”
Additional features of the EC135 include inlet barrier filters that protect the helicopter engines from ingesting foreign objects such as stones or larger debris.
Ludman added: “It is unique as it is one of the few helicopters in the world to have the fenestron or protected tail rotor, instead of the conventional tail rotor.
“It increases safety for people on the ground and lowers susceptibility to foreign object damage and is one of the quietest helicopters.”
Certain configurations of the EC135's the twin-engine system allows the helicopter to continue flying even if one engine becomes damaged.
The Australian Government signed the initial contract for the delivery of 15 EC135 training helicopters in November 2014.
The project was carried out as a joint effort between Airbus and several industry partners, including Boeing Defense Australia and Thales Australia.
Image: Australian Army officer Adrian Ludman of the Joint Helicopter School demonstrates an Airbus EC135 T2+ flight simulator used in the Helicopter Advanced Training System facility at HMAS Albatross. Photo: courtesy of Royal Australian Navy.