The combined Navy/Army Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) based at HMAS Albatross at Nowra has declared an initial operational capability (IOC) following the graduation of its first class.
Designed to replace Navy’s Airbus AS350BA Squirrels and Army’s Bell 206B Kiowas with a combined training system, the HATS saw a combined Boeing/Thales team offering 16 Airbus EC135T2+ helicopters and new synthetic training devices and courseware adopted under Project AIR 9000 Phase 7 project.
“Following successful testing of the individual aircrew training courses throughout 2018, Chief of Navy Vice Admiral Michael Noonan declared the conditions had been met for Initial Operating Capability,” Defence Minister Christopher Pyne said.
The aircraft are operated by Navy’s 723 squadron in refurbished facilities at Nowra, while Boeing staff instruct students on the synthetic devices. A 94m multi-mission aviation training vessel, the MV Sycamore was also acquired for HATS trainees to gain deck landing and launch experience.
“At an acquisition cost of AUD $436 million, HATS has delivered a modern helicopter training system for Defence which has the ability to train up to 144 helicopter pilots, aircrew and aviation warfare officers each year,” Minister Pyne said. “723 Squadron is staffed by Navy and Army aircrew, with additional instructors, support staff and aircraft maintenance provided by Boeing Defence Australia, who employ 108 contracted personnel in the Nowra area.”