Wednesday, November 1, 2006
Helicopter Training: From the Factories
MD Plans to Acquire Training Fleet
MD Helicopters is "committed to being the provider of training" to its customers and is undertaking an aircraft, training device and courseware acquisition program to achieve that, according to the company's new director of flight operations and training and chief pilot.
"We are conducting a major review of every aspect of our training program," said the new director, Clint Balog.
Balog joined the Mesa, Ariz.-based manufacturer recently, insisting that he head both the flight ops and training departments so that he had control over scheduling of aircraft. MD recently has had to split aircraft among training, customer demonstration and other flight demands.
"My first task was to develop a redevelopment plan" for MD's training activities, he said. That plan is now in place.
A first step in the plan is acquiring five aircraft to supplement the company's training capabilities.
The training aircraft, Balog said, will include an MD900, an MD902, an MD600N and two MD 500Es. Down the road, the company is looking at acquiring a 500 and a 530F. "There is tremendous demand for the 530F," he said.
The acquired aircraft, which will all be refurbished ones, will be specifically for training and configured as such, Balog said.
MD also is looking to secure a flight training device for the MD902. MD's principal owner and chairman, New York investor Lynn Tilton, has committed to acquiring simulators or flight training devices for all the company's aircraft models. That is part of her pledge to adopt the safety recommendations of the International Helicopter Safety Team, which is pursuing the goal of cutting the helicopter accident rate by 80 percent in 10 years. The use of simulators and FTDs for training all helicopter pilots is an element of international safety advocates' recommendations that led to the creation of the team.
While MD's training organization will not be an FAR Part 142 certified operation, Balog said, "it will be modeled on Part 142, with the quality assurance and instructor training-annual and six-month recurrent training."
MD also is working on the development of a training center for the kingdom of Jordan as part of a sales agreement with that nation.
Bell Academy Trains First Responders on Helos
Bell Helicopter has expanded its training offerings beyond pilots and mechanics to include emergency personnel who work around helicopters on a regular basis.
The company has launched the First Responder Training Program, which won't make anyone a pilot or helicopter mechanic. But that's not the point.
"Our intent and purpose is to give you something you can use," Bell instructor Joe Schmaltz told the first class in August. "The number one safety device on that helicopter is not a spring or bracket. The number one safety device is you."
The first class at Bell's Customer Training Academy at Alliance Airport in Texas covered 407 helicopter rescue operations and ground safety. Attendees included members of several Texas police and fire departments.
Students learned the basics of a helicopter, such as the airframe, rotors, drive train, fuel system, hydraulics, flight controls, and electrical system. Other lessons centered on how to select a landing zone, assess environmental conditions, and approach and depart an aircraft, as well as danger areas on a helicopter. It also discussed how to get victims out of a helicopter and shut the engine down, as well as the basics of an accident investigation.
The course is not all classroom time. Students visited the academy's flight simulators to practice shutting a helicopter down. The course concluded with a tabletop exercise where the class members put their newfound knowledge into action.
Terry Eichman, Bell's manager of business development and programs for the Training Academy, said he got the idea for the course while listening to a scanner during wildfires in North Texas this year. The calls involving helicopters indicated poor landing zone selection, laborious communication and limited situational awareness. That, in turn, raised questions about training, particularly for the first responders on the ground who had to work around helicopters.
Eurocopter Taps CAE for Army Training Work
CAE, Inc. stands to boost its military business if Eurocopter's EC145 is declared the final winner of the U.S. Army's 322-aircraft Light Utility Helicopter competition.
A team led by EADS North America was picked June 30 to provide the aircraft and logistics, maintenance and training support. But two losing bidders, MD Helicopters and AgustaWestland, have protested. A decision on the protests is expected this month. The winning aircraft will replace Vietnam-era Bell UH-1Hs and OH-58D Kiowa Warriors.
The EADS team tapped Montreal-based CAE as a training contractor. If the team wins the protests, CAE would have the job of supplying cockpit procedures trainers for UH145 pilots. The Army contract calls for provision of fixed-base trainers for the Light Utility Helicopter program; no full-motion flight simulators are required.
"The initial order will be worth several million dollars, rising to about $20 million over the 10-year term of the contract," said an official of CAE's military training division.
The training will be based on Eurocopter's commercial EC145 instruction program. American Eurocopter is expanding its Grand Prairie, Texas training center in part to handle the additional work from the LUH contract. The CAE training devices will be based there and at Fort Rucker, Ala. CAE already builds combat mission simulators for the U.S. Army's 160th Special Operations Aviation Regiment (Airborne)'s A/MH-6, MH-60, and MH-47. It also has built all the simulators to train pilots for the CH-47 Chinooks flown by the U.S. Army, the British Royal Air Force and the Australian forces.