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Airbus Helicopters announces Texas training centerAirbus Helicopters announces Texas training center

Manufacturer partners with Thales, HelisimManufacturer partners with Thales, Helisim

Airbus Helicopters announced at Heli-Expo 2018 on Feb. 27 that it will join forces with Thales and Helisim to construct a new, state-of-the-art helicopter pilot and maintenance crew training center in Texas. The Airbus Helicopters Training Center in North America will be located at the headquarters of Airbus Helicopters Inc. in Grand Prairie.

Airbus Helicopters' new North American training center will add a simulator for the new H160, shown here on display at HAI Heli-Expo 2018, as soon as the new model is certified. Photo by Mike Collins.

Helisim, a joint venture of Thales and Airbus Helicopters, will develop and operate the simulation center, which will include the first H145 and H175 Level D simulators in North America. These Reality H simulators, built by Thales, will allow pilot training for two of Airbus Helicopters’ newest, most high-tech civil helicopters now entering wide use in the Americas.

The initial investment in the new facility is estimated to be about $40 million. It will have the capacity to train several thousand pilots and maintenance personnel a year, providing both initial and recurrent training. The center will be designed for future expansion, with the installation of an H160 simulator planned when the new model is certified and production is underway. It will also incorporate the existing training facilities of Airbus Helicopters Inc., including its H125/AS350 full flight simulator and H135/H145 flight training device.

"With this expansion, we will be able to support our customer’s needs for world class helicopter training in one convenient location," said Christopher Emerson, president of Airbus Helicopters Inc. "Expanding our capabilities with H145 and H175 Level D simulators will allow customers to optimize their training programs and benefit from the expertise that we can provide onsite at our headquarters in the U.S."

"When we first embarked on this partnership with Airbus, our primary goal was to ensure the next generation of helicopter pilots worked in an industry with the same safety record as those in the fixed-wing market," said Benoit Plantier, vice president of training and simulation for Thales. "The quality and level of training Helisim offers to pilots in Europe has gone a long way to accomplish that goal. We are proud to continue this legacy in North America."

"The opening of this new facility near Dallas represents a major international expansion of Helisim," said Christian Cochini, the company’s CEO. "Our 18 years of experience in simulation training for Airbus Helicopters’ wide range of aircraft, representing nearly 200,000 simulated flight hours, combined with Airbus Helicopter Inc. expertise, will allow us to offer safe and efficient training solutions for North American customers."

The second flying H160 prototype was displayed at Heli-Expo in Las Vegas, making its first appearance at an international airshow. "This aircraft is emblematic of the company's transformation in every domain—from concept and design, to the revamped industrial production model enabling enhanced industrial maturity from entry into service—and capitalizing on key digital technologies for greater customer support and maintenance," said Ben Bridge, Airbus Helicopters executive vice president for global business. The H160 will begin a U.S. demonstration tour following Heli-Expo, he added.

Mike Collins

Mike Collins

Technical Editor
Mike Collins has worked for AOPA’s media network since 1994. He holds a private pilot certificate with an instrument rating.
Topics: Helicopter, Helicopter Association International

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