Around two years ago, a training programme commenced in the UK with 40 would-be pilots from Algeria, all set up by AgustaWestland as part of a wider deal including a whole batch of helicopters as well.
While the operators and AW maintained radio silence on the contract, many in the UK industry knew that Tiger Helicopters at Shobdon were putting in a large number of hours on this contract – we understand they flew around 10,000 accident-free training hours in 22 months.Â Impressive figures.Â This started with two JetRangers, rising eventually to eight, all leased from Castle Air of Liskeard in Cornwall.Â At first these were leased by Tiger, but before long the leases were taken over by AW and Tiger concentrated on the flying, housing, transportation, feeding etc of the students.
On 19th August, seven of the eight JetRangers arrived at Gloucestershire Airport (aka Staverton) from Tiger’s base at Shobdon and from then on were operated by Heliflight. Â Tiger completed the training for 34 of the 40 students.Â Two did not complete the course and returned to Algeria, leaving the last four students to complete their course with Heliflight.
When HeliHub.com enquired to AW about the move, they confirmed that “the contract AgustaWestland had with Tiger Helicopters has now been cancelled”.Â Additionally they told us that “AgustaWestland has awarded Castle Air a training contract who have subcontracted some elements of the training to Heliflight”.
So, let’s look at that – AgustaWestland has awarded a training contract to a company who does not do training, who then need to subcontact the training work to another operator.Â Why would AW do that?Â Why didn’t AW award a training contract to a company who does training? That’s just setting themselves up for increased costs.
And looking forward, more similar training contracts are on the horizon, including a reported eight-year program for 240 pilots from the Middle East.Â Â We wonder whether AW will award this training contract to a training company or not?
Castle Air also supply five AW109E helicopters to AgustaWestland’s Operational Flight Training Centre at Newquay.
Jeremy Parkin – HeliHub.com
Photo (c) 2012 Dave Haines
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