Helicopter pilots training academy eyes overseas market

Bangalore, Sep 14 (Calcutta Tube) Buoyed by the success of training Bell-412 chopper pilots in India, the Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), the only such in the country, is set to tap foreign markets, its chief executive says.

HATSOFF completed training for the first batch of six Bell-412 pilots on Monday. It has signed a deal to train pilots of all Bell-412 helicopters.

‘We have entered into a contract to train all the Bell helicopter pilots in India at this simulation centre which has boosted our confidence to eye the overseas market,’ HATSOFF chief executive officer Wing Commander (retd) C.D. Upadhyay said during a media interaction here.

The Bangalore-based HATSOFF is a joint venture of state-run Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and Canadian Aviation Electronics (CAE).

It has a full-mission simulator featuring CAE’s revolutionary roll-on/roll-off cockpit design that enables cockpits representing various helicopter types to be used in the simulator.

HAL is one of Asia’s largest aerospace companies engaged in manufacturing and assembling aircraft, navigation and related communication equipment. CAE is a leading provider of simulation and modelling technology and integrated training services for civil aviation, and defence consumers worldwide.

The academy has plans to build simulators for three other types of helicopters too.

While the civil variant of Dhruv simulator is expected to be set up by April 2011, the Dauphin-N3 cockpit module will be ready by July 2011 and the military variant of Dhruv module by September of the same year, Upadhyay said.

Once completed, the simulator will be only the third of its kind in the world. The other two are in Europe and the United States.

‘We have built multimedia classrooms for computer based training, brief and debrief facilities and a training management information system that ensures best quality training,’ Upadhyay said.

Around 75 percent of India’s geographical structure has been image-mapped to train for real time emergency situations in a hilly region, over the sea and in disaster situations, he added.

With all facilities in place, Upadhyay said the joint venture would look at Sri Lanka, Malaysia and Thailand among the countries to capture foreign markets.

HATSOFF recently received approval from European Safety Agency and India’s Directorate General of Civil Aviation to implement, control and supervise airworthiness standards, safety operations and crew training.

When fully operational, the academy will be capable of training up to 400 helicopter pilots every year with expected annual revenue of Rs.80 crore ($1.7 million).

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