New Zealand has commissioned a flight simulator centre to train pilots for the AgustaWestland A109 light utility helicopter.

The Euro 9.3 million ($12.4 million) simulator is located at the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) Base Ohakea, on the country's North Island, and was provided by AgustaWestland, said the RNZAF.

"The A109 simulator and accompanying virtual interactive procedure trainer are critical components of the newly introduced integrated training system for future New Zealand Defence Force helicopter air crew," said Air Vice-Marshall Peter Stockwell.

The simulator fully replicates the A109 cockpit with a semi-spherical screen and seven projectors. It includes a six axis electro-pneumatic motion system, a seat vibration system and sound system that recreates aircraft and environmental sounds.

Stockwell said the simulator's operating costs are 10% of using a real aircraft and will provide 1,400 hours of training annually, and twice this if needed.

"At the planned rate, the simulator will pay for itself in less than five years," said Stockwell.

The RNZAF inducted three A109s in May this year. The aircraft are used mainly for training duties and replaced the Bell 47 Sioux.

Source: Flight International