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Saturday, July 1, 2006

From the Factories

Compiled by R&W Staff

Bell Weighs Creating Training School In India

Bell Helicopter is looking at the feasibility of setting up a training school in India, bringing in an Indian partner under a joint venture .

The training school is part of its strategy to boost sales and forge links with companies in the country.

"We expect the Indian market for helicopters to grow to $4.3 billion over the next 20 years, with 40 percent of the demand from the civilian sector," said Bob Fitzpatrick, Bell's senior vice president for business development.

The facility would cater to 100-odd pilots in India flying only Bell helicopters. "We're also looking at India as a regional hub for both training and product support," Fitzpatrick said, adding that Bell "is more comfortable working from India than from other countries in South Asia.

Fitzpatrick told a group of Indian journalists touring Bell's Fort Worth, Texas headquarters that the company has had talks with Pawan Hans and Deccan Aviation, both Bell customers, as well as other firms. The selected partner would have to be a company with facilities at an airport, he said. "We will select a partner by the third or fourth quarter of this year. The school will be operational by next year."

The facility would be set up for both initial and refresher training. Max Wiley, Bell's vice president for Asia-Pacific sales, said the request to establish a school had come from India's Directorate General of Civil Aviation, which was "concerned about the limited number of helicopter pilots and standards."

Bell will determine the syllabus and position an instructor and a 407 at the school.

Bell claims it has more than a 50-percent share of the Indian market, having sold 70 of the 120 helicopters flying in the country.

Danes Tap AW For Procedures Trainer

The Royal Danish Air Force has awarded AgustaWestland a contract to supply an EH101 cockpit procedures trainer that the company said will play a significant role in EH101 Merlin Joint Supporter aircrew type conversion, continuation and mission training.

The procedures trainer is to provide orientation and procedural training for helicopter aircrew members through the use of high-fidelity replica controls and indicators with representative tactile and visual feedback. A stand-alone, full-scale, functional replica of the helicopter's cockpit instruments, controls, control panels, and internal structures are to be used to create a realistic training environment for utility, assault, and special operations rotary-wing platforms.

The procedures trainer should allow the Royal Danish Air Force to significantly reduce its training costs when compared to using the real aircraft.

The trainer's responses to student inputs are to be representative of actual helicopter responses. Visual and tactile fidelity should allow achievement of training objectives and give trainees the impression of interacting with the actual helicopter systems. To help students learn and practice the instructor-created scenarios, the instructor can interact with and adjust any of the defined parameters during the lesson.

A representative aural and visual environment that includes out-the-window scenes and flight performance without motion and vibration cueing should enable procedures to be practiced in the specified regimes of ground and flight operations. Normal and degraded modes of operation for the installed systems are to be supported as required. Cockpit indications and associated instrument displays also are to be simulated.

Using the trainer, crews should be able to practice cockpit routines and drills, including emergency procedures, under conditions that closely resemble the actual cockpit environment.

MD Helicopters Bolsters Training

MD Helicopters, Inc. has taken steps to improve its training program following last year's takeover by Lynn Tilton and her distressed-debt investment firm, Patriarch Partners. The training department previously was forced to use aircraft that were constantly being taken from it to satisfy customer demands. It now has four helicopters in house at MD's Mesa, Ariz. facility dedicated specifically to training, according to Jeff Snyder, general manager for customer support.

The training aircraft include an MD500E, MD520N, MD600N and MD Explorer.

Snyder said the company will conduct training at a customer's site if requested. The company has also hired a new training manager (Mike Zale), two pilot instructors and a new maintenance training instructor .

Training scheduling requires a deposit to ensure attendance and secure schedules, Snyder said. Scheduled training typically is two months out for pilots and one month for mechanics. Snyder also noted that MD's training-based revenue has doubled over the past 12 months.

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