Flight instructors at Shindand Air Base have completed acceptance flights on six MD 530F Helicopters that will be used to train Afghan pilots.
Each helicopter was flown in the local air space for one hour and all aircraft systems were checked to include radios, GPS, navigation systems, rotor tracking and overall airworthiness.
Classes are scheduled to start in early 2012.
U.S. Army Lt. Col. Jeffery Bouma is the team chief for the MD 530F training program. He said the helicopter is a good fit for the training mission.
â€œThe MD 530F is a very agile and forgiving helicopter,â€ he said. â€œItâ€™s the perfect platform for initial rotor wing flight training in Afghanistan.â€
The colonel said the helicopter performs well in high temperatures and high altitudes both of which are offered in abundance in Afghanistan. The instrument panel is also very streamlined and contains only the essential aircraft instrumentation and navigation systems. This simpler configuration is a better fit for student pilots.
The training group is also building two flight training devices for the program.
Bouma said helicopters were up and operational two weeks ahead of schedule.
â€œThis has been an incredibly rewarding experience,â€ he said. â€œThe fielding of the MD 530F, from production in Arizona to delivery in Afghanistan, took less than 10 months. It is a testament to the entire team of professionals who made this program a reality.â€
Now that the equipment is in place, Bouma is excited to start training his new students.
â€œI look forward to training our first Afghan officers in the MD 530F and flight training devices,â€ said Bouma. â€œI am very confident that the right airframe to support this training program along with the requisite amount of maintenance professionals to keep our fleet fully mission capable.â€
There is also a video about these helicopters on YouTube at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0DKxy4XzT4I
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