Cobham Aviation Services are all set to launch their Helicopter Academy later in the year, at Newquay International Airport. It comes just as the company successfully completes its Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) contract early next year, after 20 years of fulfilling the UK MoD’s exacting helicopter training needs.
Here at the SAR International Exhibition in Nîmes which is taking place from October 19-20, Cobham’s Andy Upton told the author, “We will leverage off the skills and experience acquired through training the UK Armed Forces pilots for the past 20 years, that very few other organisations can offer.”
With the DHFS contract ending on March 31 next year, Cobham will transfer up to six helicopters to its new Academy. “We are planning to cover the whole spectrum of aircrew training (pilot, technical crewman including winch operator and winchman) and offer it to governments all around the world. Many countries don’t have the skills or assets, to train these people themselves, but we can.”
The full turn-key service provided at the Academy means no major capital outlay for helicopters and infrastructure for countries that might already be strapped for cash and allow them to invest in other assets for front line operations.
“We can provide a value for money service, and package it in a tailored module which would include synthetics, to meet our customer’s needs and budgets.”
In the past, the company has trained aircrews from the Albanian Air Force, Trinidad and Tobago Air Guard, Cyprus National Guard and Algerian Navy. This training has been delivered both in the UK and at the Customers locations on their own aircraft.
“We never really marketed our capabilities previously because we were so heavily involved in the UK MOD contract, and the overseas work we did get came from the OEMs (Original Engineering Manufacturers) and/or defence contracts. Now that is all changing and we are set to work with a launch customer for the Helicopter Academy imminently.”
Cobham plans to train ab-initio pilots all the way through to Search and Rescue and high end tactical needs, on a helicopter fleet set to include the Cabri G2, AS350 Squirrel, Bell 412 and AW139. Upton finishes, “Our Squirrels for example are already fitted with FLIR and Night Vision systems (NVIS) which allows us to work in areas that most other companies cannot.”