Australian Minister for Defence Marise Payne has visited the Royal Australian Navy's (RAN) Naval Air Station (NAS) HMAS Albatross to inspect the development progress of a $157m helicopter aircrew training system (HATS).
The new project is being developed in order to offer advanced and upgraded facilities for both navy and army aviators.
Payne said: “The new Helicopter Aircrew Training System will provide streamlined initial pilot training in a highly realistic environment for our navy and army personnel.”
Boeing Defence Australia was awarded a 25-year, $A600m contract in November 2014 to develop a low-risk solution around the Airbus EC135, as well as train RAN and Australian Army helicopter pilots.
Fifteen Airbus EC135 helicopters will be delivered under the JP9000 Phase 7 HATS project, along with flight simulators and a new flight-deck-equipped sea-going training vessel.
Payne added: “The project includes a new training centre with three flight simulators, refurbished hangars and workshops and new living accommodation.”
The EC135 helicopters will be based at Nowra in New South Wales, Australia, and are set to replace the RAN’s Squirrel helicopter and the Australian Army’s Kiowa helicopter, which are more than 30 and 40 years old respectively.
The new facility is slated to be operational next year and will be able to offer training for up to 116 pilots, aircrew, sensor operators, aviation warfare officers and instructors a year.
The Australian Government is currently investing more than $500m to modernise the facilities at HMAS Albatross, including the new HATS.
More than 1,600 defence personnel working at HMAS Albatross airfield are expected to benefit from the investment.
The new training facility will also offer new opportunities for up to 380 external contractors to work on major projects, along with providing learning opportunities for apprentices and trainees.