Military, Public Service, Training

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By Staff Writer | January 1, 2005
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Ground School Tailored to Helo License

Dragon Helicopters has won approval from the United Kingdom's CAA for a ground school that is tailored for a commercial pilot (helicopter) license and uses distance-learning techniques to slash the time that a student must spend in a classroom.

Students have previously had to take the full U.K. Air Transport Pilot license program, which includes courses with no relevance to the helicopter industry, according to Bill Leach, Dragon Helicopter's operations manager. The new program has been developed specifically to meet the needs of single-engine, VFR commercial helicopter pilots. A major advantage of the course, he said, is that students for the commercial ratings will only have to take nine exams instead of the 14 required for the more advanced Air Transport rating.


The distance-learning ground school includes 90 hr. (or about three weeks) of classroom study and 410 hr. of learning through e-mail, telephone or mail correspondence with an instructor. At the completion of each module, each student is to attend a residential refresher course at Dragon Helicopter's base at Sheffield City Airport in Sheffield to prepare for the CAA exams.

The course was prepared using the JAR commercial helicopter rating syllabus, according to Leach, and developed in conjunction with Bristol Ground School.

Dragon Helicopters also provides flight training for students, offering type ratings in the Robinson R22 and R44 and the Schweizer 300 CBi, although most flight training is done in the Schweizer, Leach said. For information, contact Dragon Helicopters at

FAA Gives Approval for Frasca TruFlite H FTDs

Frasca International TruFlite H flight-training device can now be used for meeting the IFR and VFR training requirements of the U.S. FAA.

That regulatory agency granted the approval to the reconfigurable helicopter FTD within a couple of months of the first unit's delivery to Silver State Helicopters, which has ordered a total of 10 of the devices. Silver State Helicopters is headquartered in North Las Vegas, Nev.

The devices Silver State ordered can be configured for the Schweizer 300 or the Robinson R22 and R44 aircraft. According to Frasca, other TruFlite H models are available that can be configured to represent turbine single and twin helicopters. For instance, the University of North Dakota has ordered a TruFlite H reconfigurable between the Bell 206 and the Schweizer 300. The New York Police Dept. has ordered one for the Agusta A119 Koala. Frasca said it expects additional approvals as these other flight-training devices prove their capabilities.

The TruFlite H uses technology developed for Frasca's Level 6 flight training devices and Level C full-flight simulators that has been repackaged for the light helicopter training market. The device includes realistic aerodynamics and is designed to provide VFR training in maneuvers such as hover, autorotation, settling with power, dynamic rollover and sloped landings.

For information contact Frasca at 217-344-9200 or

Residents, Pols Back R.I. Guard Training Site

Rhode Island's Army National Guard is winning support for a helicopter training site from an unusual quarter: residents and politicians near the proposed site.

Guard officials in September told the town council of Jamestown, R.I. that they wanted to use Dutch Island to train Black Hawk crews. They currently have only one training site, a land-locked facility in west-central Rhode Island. Guard officials said pilots have trained there so many times it no longer poses challenges for them.

By contrast, the island in the western channel of Narragansett Bay, near Rhode Island's southeastern corner, offers 81 acres (33 hectares) of uninhabited terrain with numerous overwater approaches that offer new, unfamiliar training options for aircrews. Closed to the public, the island is managed by the state Environmental Management Dept.

The town council for Jamestown, the affluent island to the east that has some jurisdiction over Dutch Island, initially rejected outright guard officials' request, citing safety and aircraft noise concerns. But the council was urged to reconsider by local politicians who attended an Environmental Management Dept. hearing on the request for new training sites. That led to a Nov. 22, 2004 presentation by the Guard's director of aviation and safety, Col. Kenneth Gareau. He argued, among other things, that it is essential the Guard's 70 pilots train in "a diversity of situations to prepare them for any landing they may encounter." The guard wants to use eight training sites in the state; Dutch Island is the only one with overwater approaches.

Several residents backed the proposal, as did some council members. "Our country's at war right now, and if we're going to fight that, to say we're being inconvenienced by noise once in a while, that's a pretty lame excuse," Council Vice President David Long said, one of many Jamestown residents who initially opposed the war in Iraq.

The council agreed to continue talks with the Guard and vote again on the request. Many opponents have spoken out since Nov. 22, and Long said the site won't be approved easily.

"It's going to be a big fight."

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