By By Ernie Stephens, Editor-at-Large | April 15, 2014
AgustaWestland, manufacturer of the AW119 Koala, brought a new variant of the light, single-engine turbine to last week’s Sea-Air-Space conference outside of Washington, DC. The aircraft, designated the AW119Kx, is intended to compete for the title of the Department of the Navy’s new helicopter trainer.
The AW119Kx will come standard with a glass cockpit, making it the first primary helicopter trainer in the Navy not to employ analog gauges. Andrew Gappy, head of AgustaWestland’s Navy and Marine Corps programs, said it makes more sense for pilots to learn how to fly a helicopter equipped with a digital avionics suite, because all initial flight training is accomplished in the all glass, T-6B airplane.
"When they move from the T-6B to the [current helicopter trainer], which is all analog, they actually have to go back and do some kind of remedial basic instrument training because they didn’t start with gauges," said Gappy. "And then they go to the fleet and they never see steam gauges again."
The trainer is also configured with a seat centered behind the two pilots’ positions, giving an instructor the flexibility to have one student observe him working up front with a student, or to coach a pair of students from behind them.
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