The first class of Army and Navy pilots, aviation warfare officers and helicopter aircrew to pass through the Joint Helicopter School have officially received their wings.
These students were the first to use Boeing’s integrated Helicopter Aircrew Training System, completing ground-based virtual training to safely gain the skills needed to move onto live flight on EC135 helicopters to and complete their course.
Attending the graduation, Boeing Defence Australia general manager of integrated services and support Murray Brabrook said it was a proud occasion to see Australia’s future combat helicopter aircrew receive their wings.
“We’re incredibly proud to have provided these women and men with a modern training system that ensures they’re not only qualified but are confident they have the skills and experience to transition into operational training,” he said.
The Joint Helicopter School operates with the Navy’s 723 Squadron at HMAS Albatross, Nowra, NSW.
It took in its first class at the start of this year. Previously the Army and Navy operated separate helicopter training schools.
723 Squadron Commanding Officer Commander Bruce Willington said the graduation was a historic day.
“In the space of just over three and a half years, the Capability and Acquisition Sustainment Group, along with Boeing, Thales and Defence, have delivered training outcomes to ensure we have professional, resilient helicopter aircrews with sound decision making and teamwork skills,” he said.
“This is helping to underwrite Navy’s ability to effectively fight and win on land and in the marine environment.”
Presenting the 28 graduates with their wings, Commander Fleet Air Arm, Commodore Chris Smallhorn, congratulated the graduates on their achievements.
“You are now off on the next phase of your careers where you will be tested even further,” CDRE Smallhorn said.
“Always push for excellence in whatever you do.”
Graduating as Dux of the Pilot Rotary Course was Lieutenant Rob McBeath. Aviation Warfare Officer Dux was Sub Lieutenant Ashley Hill and Aircrewman Dux was Leading Seaman Simon Zammit.
The Joint Helicopter School has the capacity to train more than 100 student pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrewman and sensor operators per year for the next 25 years.
Under the contract, Boeing is responsible for the delivery of 15 Airbus EC135 training helicopters and their ongoing maintenance plus three full-motion Thales EC135 Flight Simulators.
It’s responsible for the curriculum for the four courses, including development and maintenance of training materials, and provision of ground- and air-based training.