This should be a busy year for the Bell Helicopter Training Academy. In addition to upgrading some flight training devices and meeting the steady demand for its night-vision goggles training, the academy is relocating from Hurst, Texas to Alliance Airport in Fort Worth and developing new "virtual classroom" distributed learning courses.
The academy is upgrading its Bell 206B and 407 flight training devices, adding new visual systems and 220x58-deg. field-of-view parabolic screens from Frasca International. The academy aims to win FAA Level 6 certification of the units , the highest rating for flight training devices.
The night-vision course continues to draw a host of students to the academy, according to Bell. Taught by former U.S. Army pilots experienced in the use of night-vision goggles, the course includes eight hours of classroom instruction and flight training of about 7.5 hr. total flight time. The flight training is based on proficiency. Bell also offers NVG training for crewmen and supervisors, depending on an individual customers requirements.
The move to Alliance Airport, slated for the third quarter, is part of a larger Bell plan "to continue providing and improving our customer service," said Ty Cross, the academy's new manager. Cross joined Bell in mid-February. He formerly was vice president of line maintenance for American Airlines' American Eagle regional airline operation.
The new facility at Alliance is the former site of Galaxy Aerospace and underwent a $3-million renovation before it was closed after Gulfstream Aerospace Corp. bought Galaxy. The facility is intended as the site for training in the BA609 when Bell Agusta Aerospace fields the civil tilt-rotor, a development that hinges on the return to operational status of the Bell/Boeing V-22 with the U.S. Marine Corps. That return is not slated to occur until 2006.
The move there will delay slightly the academy's roll out of its distributed learning program, which is currently in testing and development. That program is intended to allow pilots to complete the ground-school portion of initial and transition training via the Internet, said Gary Young, the academy's chief pilot. This would allow customers to pare training costs by reducing the travel expenses related to training.
In a related development, Young said the academy's offsite training offerings have proved very popular. This training is conducted by academy staff at a customer's own facility, again helping the customer limit travel-related expenses. The offerings, which include ground schools and maintenance training, are booked through the third quarter, Young said.
Eurocopter has consolidated its worldwide training activities and is revamping its approach to training in a move that could lead to more course offerings, including a night-vision goggle course, at its American Eurocopter facility in Grand Prairie, Texas.
The manufacturer in late 2003 brought the training activities of its worldwide network of training centers under its Training Services Business Unit, which is affiliated with Eurocopter's Customer Support Directorate. The network includes two centers each in France and Germany and one each in Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, Italy, Mexico and Singapore, as well as the American Eurocopter facility in the United States.
Eurocopter's training plans call for offering customers turnkey training units and innovative financing options. The manufacturer also is re-evaluating its approach to training, embracing it as a key part of customer support.
"There will be more training done in Grand Prairie," said Marc Paganini, president of American Eurocopter.
Eurocopter is considering partnering with a simulator manufacturer to build devices for U.S. customers. A focus will be on simulators for AS350 aircraft and the EC135 (left). Only one Eurocopter simulator is in use in the United States now, an HH-65A simulator operated by the U.S. Coast Guard's flight training center in Mobile, Alabama.
American Eurocopter plans shortly to offer a night-vision goggle course for commercial operators, using an AS350 modified for NVG operations. It is working with the FAA to gain approval of that training program, and is evaluating how to best utilize its staff's capabilities to support the night-vision training.
MD Helicopters is offering the following training courses this year:
Transition Training-These courses familiarize rated helicopter pilots with the systems and operation of specific MD Helicopter aircraft. The courses are four- to five days long and include two to three days ground school and up to 5 hr. of flight training. The ground school includes publications, systems and preflight procedures. Flight training includes practice of normal flight and selected emergency procedures.
Recurrent Training-This provides a review of specific MD Helicopter aircraft for pilots experienced and current in the aircraft. The two-day course includes ground school and flight training. If a biennial flight review is requested, an FAR Part 91 open-book examination and review will be conducted at no additional cost. The ground school includes a review of airworthiness directives and notices, systems, the flight manual, preflight procedures and an open-book exam. Flight training consists of up to 3 hr. for intensive practice of normal and selected emergency procedures.
MD Explorer Autopilot Familiarization-This two-day course introduce pilots to the limitations and performance of the autopilot system as well as normal and emergency procedures. It includes up to 2 hr. of flight training.
MD530F and MD520N Differences-This two-day course is designed to qualify experienced MD500-series pilots in either the MD520N or MD530F. A one-day ground school identifies differences in the helicopter. Up to 3 hr. of flight instruction is provided.
Contact the company at 480-346-6390 or www.mdhelicopters.com for specific information.
The company participates in USAIG's Safety Bucks program, which offers a "significant discount" on factory training as well as expanded insurance coverage. Information on that program can be obtained at www.usau.com/USAU.nsf/Doc/PreferredPolicyholderHelicopter.
A new program is introducing the Robinson R44 Raven 2 to police officials considering establishing aviation units.
The Robinson program is operated by Silver State Helicopters, a Robinson dealer in Las Vegas. It gives officials access to a Raven 2 outfitted for law enforcement work for several five-day stretches. It is intended to familiarize them with how helicopters can help their efforts, and to promote Robinson sales. The first aircraft in the program-fitted with a forward-looking infrared sensor, searchlight, police-frequency radio and scanner, and video-made visits November through February to the Merced County Sheriff in Riverside, California.
A representative of that agency flew as an observer in the aircraft, during which a Silver State pilot, who is a sworn law officer in California, flew law-enforcement missions. Agencies who have officers qualified as pilots can have those officers fly the Raven 2 during upcoming five-day visits.
Robinson also continues to offer its Flight Instructor Safety Course at its Torrance, California facility. The course includes two and a half days of classroom instruction and one day devoted to maintenance, pre-flight inspections, and flying with an experienced company pilot. Awareness training required by SFAR 73 is also included.
Although it is geared toward flight instructors, the course is open to any rated helicopter pilot who has at least 3 hr. in the R22 or R44. Students may enroll in anticipation of receiving their rating, but they must have obtained their rating before the course starts. All attendees must understand English. The cost of the course, including flight time, is $350 if the R22 is to be flown or $450 in the R44.
For more information on these programs, contact Robinson's safety course administrator at email@example.com or 310-539-0508.