Aviation Training International, a joint team of GKN Westland and Boeing, has won a £650 million ($1 million) contract from the UK Ministry of Defence to train flight and maintenance crews for the British Army's WAH-64 Apache attack helicopters.

The 30-year Apache Training Service contract covers the establishment of dedicated facilities at the Army Air Corps bases at Dishforth, Middle Wallop and Wattisham, and the Royal Elect-rical and Mechanical Engineers base at Arborfield, and will include training the first Army Air Corps instructors at Mesa, Arizona.

The package will include advanced simulators, reducing the need for night and overseas flying training time and live weapon training.

Aviation Training will employ about 110 staff and train about 550 uniformed personnel a year. The training service is to become operational by 2000, as the first of the 67 WAH-64s is delivered.

The contract was awarded under the terms of the UKGovernment's Public/Private Partnership agreement, using Aviation Training's commercial financing to fund initial investment in equipment, infrastructure and personnel and MoD funding to pay for training services on an "as provided" basis.

"The UK Ministry of Defence is among the first to challenge the traditional procurement practice and look for smarter solutions. Others will undoubtedly follow," says Richard Case, chief executive of GKN Westland Helicopters.

The contract has obvious potential for the Royal Netherlands Air Force, which is also due to receive the AH-64 soon. The service plans to train all its crews in the USA.

"It's too soon to make any judgement now. The USA is a very reliable training source and another source is not likely in the near future," says the Dutch air force. o

Source: Flight International