Albania to train AS532 pilots in the UK

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Albania's near-term introduction of five Eurocopter AS532 Cougar utility helicopters will be supported by a new pilot training programme to be undertaken in the UK, FB Heliservices has announced.

The Bristow Helicopters/Cobham Aviation Services joint venture, which is responsible for running the UK's tri-service Defence Helicopter Flying School, will deliver the instruction using AgustaWestland AW109 and Bell 412 HAR2 training aircraft.

"FB Heliservices will provide a series of courses, which will provide multi-engine type conversion, glass cockpit familiarisation, instrument flying and search and rescue [SAR] training to 12 Albanian air force pilots, and SAR training only to four helicopter crew members," the company says. "The courses will take place over the period of July 2012 to June 2014." Training locations will include the Royal Air Force's Shawbury base in Shropshire and RAF Valley on Anglesey, north Wales.

An AS532 scheduled for delivery to the Albanian armed forces crashed during a pre-delivery verification flight in the south of France on 25 July, killing six Eurocopter employees. Tirana had been due to receive its first four of the aircraft this year, with the other to be handed over during 2013.