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First flight for new Australian military training helicopter

The Australian military’s first of an eventual 15 EC135 T2+ rotorcraft has made a 57min debut flight, just two months after the award of a Helicopter Aircraft Training System (HATS) deal to prime contractor Boeing Defence Australia.

Conducted from Airbus Helicopters’ Donauwörth site in Germany, the 16 January first flight “validated the full performance of the aircraft’s systems and engines”, the company says. Future testing of the twin-engined type will include testing of “specific customer equipment”, it adds.

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Charles Abarr/Airbus Helicopters

Australia’s Department of Defence in October 2014 selected a Boeing/Thales team to deliver its HATS capability, which will provide instruction for army and navy aviation personnel using a new fleet of aircraft, plus flight simulators and a sea-going training vessel. A contract for the service was signed last November.

Student training activities should begin during 2016 and Airbus expects the system to achieve initial operating capability status two years later.

Once introduced, the contractor-provided EC135 T2+ fleet will replace Bell Helicopter 206s, operated by the army, and Airbus Helicopters AS350s, in use with the navy.

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