Airbus Helicopters and the Australian Pilot Training Program


2016-07-04 During a visit to Airbus Helicopters in June 2016, one could see a number of the EC135 T2+ being built for the Australian forces.

According to an Airbus Helicopter press release of January 26, 2015:

First flight within only two months of HATS contract signing

Donauwörth, Germany, 26 January 2015

The first EC135 T2+ helicopter in a planned fleet of modern, twin-engine, rotary-wing aircraft being acquired by the Australian Defence Force (ADF) for its new Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS), has successfully completed its first flight in Europe.

Under the HATS project, a joint training scheme for both Army and Navy aircrew will utilise some 15 Airbus Helicopters EC135 T2+ trainers, along with EC135 flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped, sea-going training vessel.

Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) is the prime contractor for the new training system, partnered by Thales Australia which will provide the flight simulators.

 The first EC135 T2+ (Serial Nbr.1179) took off from the Airbus Helicopters’ production site in Donauwörth, Germany, where the helicopter is assembled at 14.37 local time on 16th January and landed back on site 57 mins later.

The Airbus Helicopters Flight Test Department reported the successful first flight had validated the full performance of the aircraft’s systems and engines, and that future flights would test specific customer equipment.

Said Peter Harris, Airbus Helicopters Head of Sales – Australia Pacific: “At Airbus Helicopters we are thrilled to have reached such a fantastic milestone in only two months from contract signing last November. This clearly demonstrates the commitment that we have towards supporting Boeing Defence Australia in meeting the ADF’s needs for training all future combat helicopter aircrew for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. We will take all of our milestones just as seriously.”

While the EC135 T2+ is a civil design helicopter, it has also proved to be a consummate military trainer. With a high-visibility glass cockpit, multi-axis auto-pilot and the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter replacing current single-engine types, it is similar to the multi-role and combat helicopters now in service with the ADF – including new-generation Tiger ARH and MRH90 helicopters – and meets all training, technical and safety requirements for future Army and Navy aircrews.

Initial Operating Capability (IOC) is scheduled for late 2018 although students will begin arriving earlier. When fully IOC the HATS system will accommodate up to 130 students a year covering pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewmen, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.

And in a July 27, 2015, Airbus Helicopter press release:

Donauwörth, 27 July 2015

Boeing Defence Australia as the prime contractor for the new training system for the ADF, joined with representatives of the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army for a Factory Acceptance ceremony for the “ideal training platform for the next generation of Navy and Army pilots”.

Under the JP 9000 Phase 7 HATS project, a new joint helicopter training system for both Army and Navy aircrew will utilise the EC135 T2+ helicopters, along with flight simulators and a new flight-deck equipped sea-going training vessel.

“Airbus Helicopters is thrilled that Boeing and the Commonwealth of Australia have demonstrated their confidence in our product by accepting this first EC135 T2+, on time and on budget, as part of a world leading high tech helicopter aircrew training system for the ADF”, says Peter Harris, Head of Governmental Sales for Australia Pacific.

“Following contract signature in November of 2014, the first aircraft took to the skies on the 16th of January 2015, and is now accepted by the customer. The next steps involve training of initial Boeing and Commonwealth aircrews and technicians here in Donauwörth, before shipment to Australia in January 2016” said Harris.

Boeing’s HATS Program Manager James Heading said that during 2015 the Boeing team have been conducting engineering evaluations and ground and flight test activities and have been fully satisfied with the results.

“By partnering with Airbus Helicopters on this important program, Boeing Defence Australia is confident of meeting our requirements towards the Commonwealth for providing a mature and cost effective platform that meets training, technical and safety requirements and the future needs of the Australian Defence Force,” said Heading.

The EC135 T2+ is a consummate military training helicopter, offering a glass cockpit with high visibility, a multi-axis auto-pilot, the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter replacing current single types, plus other advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions safely and provide the ADF with the flexibility to undertake additional missions.

The more than 1,200 H135 helicopters now delivered have clocked up over three million flight hours world-wide. The helicopter is part of successful training systems in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Japan, and is in service in Australia with the Victorian and New South Wales police forces.


And then in an April 26, 2016, Airbus Helicopter press release:

On the 6th of April this year, Airbus Helicopters employees working on the Australian program known as Helicopter Aircrew Training System, or “HATS”, had the pleasure to share some ceremonial cake with the customer.

The occasion was the arrival of the first of 15 EC135T2+ helicopters, specifically configured for training missions for the future generations of Australian combat aviators.

The delivery was made on time, and fully compliant, leading the way for 14 more deliveries over just the next 8 months! These deliveries, plus the efforts to put the support contract in place, reflect an ongoing huge effort by the HATS team from Donauworth.

This is not just internal praise, since during speeches at the ceremony, this was recognized by the contractual customer, Boeing Defence Australia, and the end user within the Australian Government.