The Royal Australian Navy EC-135 training helicopters, operated by the 723 Squadron, recently logged 10,000 flying hours during normal operations in support of the New South Wales (NSW) bushfires.
This significant milestone proved the aircraft’s rotary-wing aircrew’s training capabilities and reliability in highly demanding operations, said a Navy statement.
The first EC-135 helicopters joined 723 Squadron in 2016 and have since completed more than 6700 flights while training the newly formed instructor workforce and delivering an initial rotary qualification to 34 pilots, 11 Aviation Warfare Officers and 33 Aircrew for the Navy and Army.
Commander Bruce Willington, the Commanding Officer 723 Squadron, was proud to see his aircrews and the fleet of 15 EC-135 helicopters reach the milestone in only three years.
“I would like to congratulate my skilled and committed aircrew, maintenance teams and support personnel who have all contributed to this milestone,” Commander Willington said. “The training opportunities we provide to our next generation of aircrew in the EC-135 is world class and is creating professional and resilient aircrew with the decision-making and teamwork skill to be effective in future land and maritime operations,” he said.
While two of the helicopters were supporting the New South Wales bushfire operations out of RAAF Base Williamtown (near Newcastle), the rest of the Squadron celebrated the 10,000-flying-hour milestone.
“While it would have been nice to have had everyone here to celebrate the milestone, we are an operational squadron and honoured to support our fellow Australians in their time of greatest need,” Commander Willington said. “I am extremely proud to see representatives of our Squadron making a contribution to this national operation and the opportunity for our recent graduates to demonstrate their skills while supporting the community,” he said.
The Airbus Helicopters’ EC-135 T2+ is a military training helicopter that offers a glass cockpit with high visibility, a multi-axis auto-pilot, plus other advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions. The helicopter offers the performance and safety of a twin-engine helicopter that will replace both the Navy Squirrel and Army Kiowa single-engine helicopter types.
A total of 15 EC-135 helicopters are operated by Navy, Army and civilian instructors and are based at HMAS Albatross in new state of the art facilities.