Boeing Defence Australia (BDA) and Thales have selected the Eurocopter EC135 helicopter as its preferred platform to bid for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) Project AIR 9000 Phase 7 – Helicopter Aircrew Training System (Hats) contract.

The selection follows extensive flight and ground assessment trials of the twin-engine helicopter conducted by the two companies to identify the aircraft’s ability to fulfil training systems requirements.

BDA managing director, Kim Gillis, commented that the EC135 helicopter, suitable for both basic training and as a lead-in trainer to more complex and larger helicopters, will be the optimum platform to meet the ADF’s requirements.

The companies, if selected for the programme, will design a fully integrated HATS solution that involves instructors, flight simulators, computer-based instruction and training aircraft for the Australian Army as well as the Royal Australian Navy (RAN).

Powered by Pratt & Whitney PW206B turboshafts, the Eurocopter EC135 is a twin-engine civil helicopter widely used by police and ambulance services and also for executive transport missions.

Eurocopter sales and customer relations senior vice president, Olivier Lambert, said: "The EC135 is an ideal training helicopter for defence forces operating new-generation multi-role or combat helicopters, with great manoeuvrability, high visibility and the most advanced technologies to help instructors perform training missions safely."

The helicopter is already in service with the ADF Victorian and New South Wales police forces and is also a part of successful training systems in Germany, Switzerland, Spain and Japan.

The HATS programme is aimed at providing a rotary wing training capability for the navy and army to meet the future rotary wing training needs of the ADF.

Currently, Boeing is providing pilot, aircrew and technician training for the Australian Army’s Black Hawk and Kiowa training aircraft under the Army Aviation Training and Training Support (AATTS) contract.