Australian Defence Force's EC135 T2+ helicopter completes first test flight

EC135 T2+ helicopter

The Australian Defence Force's (ADF) first EC135 T2+ helicopter has successfully completed its first test flight at Airbus Helicopters' facility in Donauworth, Germany.

The 57-minute flight validated the full performance of the systems and engines.

Australia is set to receive a new training system comprising 15 EC135 T2+ rotary-wing aircraft, EC135 flight simulators and a new flight deck for the Australian Navy's new sea-going training vessel HMAS Albatross, which is part of the helicopter aircrew training system (HATS) programme.

In November 2014, the HATS contract was awarded to Boeing Defence Australia (BDA), which partnered with Thales Australia for the supply of flight simulators.

Airbus Helicopters Australia Pacific Sales head Peter Harris said: "This clearly demonstrates the commitment that we have towards supporting Boeing Defence Australia in meeting the ADF's needs for training all future combat helicopter aircrew for the Royal Australian Navy and the Australian Army. We will take all of our milestones just as seriously."

According to the Airbus flight test department, the helicopter will undergo additional tests to validate specific customer equipment.

"This clearly demonstrates the commitment that we have towards supporting Boeing Defence Australia in meeting the ADF's needs."

Fitted with a high-visibility glass cockpit and multi-axis auto-pilot, the EC135 T2+ is a civil-design helicopter and has been developed to address training, technical and safety requirements for future army and navy aircrews.

The HATS system is scheduled to train the army and navy in the use of advanced combat helicopters, including the Tiger armed reconnaissance helicopter, MRH-90 Taipan and MH 60R Seahawk Romeo, as well as the new CH-47F Chinook Foxtrot.

The system's initial operating capability (IOC) is scheduled to be declared in late 2018, although it will accept students before then.

When IOC has been completed, HATS will have a mature annual training capacity of up to 130 students, including pilots, aviation warfare officers, aircrew, sensor operators and qualified aircrew returning for instructor training.

Image: The EC135 T2+ helicopter during a test flight in Germany. Photo: courtesy of Airbus Helicopters, Charles Abarr.