Outgoing HAL Chief kick-starts chopper school in B'lore

Days before he retires, HAL chairman Ashok Baweja has managed to realise a personally long-held dream -- to create a state-of-the-art helicopter training facility in Bangalore. The (rather cheesily titled) Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF) is the result of a $60-million joint venture entered into today with equal financial exposure by HAL and Canadian firm CAE Incorporated, a leading producer of simulation technologies. The joint venture has set a target of late 2010 to become fully functional -- at that point to begin with, it will be equipped to train upto 400 pilots every year. Although the centre plans to incorporate into its curriculum, training for a large number of different helicopter types, the kick-off courses will be offered on the ALH Dhruv (IAF/Army variant), the ALH Dhruv (civil variant), the Bell 412 and Eurocopter SA365 Dauphin.

According to a joint statement by HAL and CAE today, "The training centre will feature multimedia classrooms, computer-based training, brief/debrief facilities, and a training management information system. The CAE-built full-mission simulator for HATSOFF will feature a common motion system, vibration platform, and visual display system, and four separate cockpit modules that can be used in the full-mission simulator. When a cockpit is not used in the full-mission simulator, it will be used as a fixed-based flight training device (FTD). The simulator will be certified to Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and Joint Aviation Authority (JAA) Level D, the highest qualification for flight simulators."

Photo of AK and Mrs Baweja by Shiv Aroor / LiveFist
Photo of CAE NH90 chopper simulator Copyright CAE, Inc.

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