Sunday, September 10, 2017

A Pair of Australian Defence Force (ADF) Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) Airbus Helicopters H135 (EC135 T2+) Choppers Pop into Gladstone and Mackay Airports

An interesting pair of helicopters were spotted calling into Gladstone Airport on Sunday 10 September in the form of Australian Defence Force (ADF) Helicopter Aircrew Training System (HATS) Airbus Helicopters H135 (EC135 T2+) choppers N52-006 (Cab no. 846) and N52-012 (852).  They both flew in the from the Oakey Army Aviation Centre, and after taking on fuel, they departed for Mackay Airport.

Of interest, both choppers were flying together and were heard to be using the radio callsign of "Cobra Black".

UPDATE!  On Monday 11 September, both choppers departed Mackay Airport for Townsville.

They are two of 15 Airbus Helicopters H135 (EC135 T2+) that are based at HMAS Albatross at Nowra in New South Wales where Boeing Defence Australia is contracted for the $600 million HATS contract to train Royal Australian Navy and Australian Army pilots.

Both H135 helicopters carry an ADF serial and cab number as well as civilian registration markings.  They also wear ‘NAVY’ and ‘ARMY’ titles on the port and starboard sides of the vertical fin, respectively, above a fanged Taipan emblem, the unofficial emblem of Navy’s 723 Squadron.

The first H135 – N52-001 – made its first flight in 2015 and was delivered to HMAS Albatross in March 2016 after flying in from the Airbus Helicopters’ facility at Bankstown Airport.  It had previously spent time at Airbus Helicopters’ in Donauwörth, Germany, training initial Boeing Defence Australia and ADF aircrews and technicians.

The 15th and final H135 was delivered during the early part of 2017.

Of interest, when at Gladstone and then Mackay Airports, both choppers parked at Heli-Aust Whitsundays - Gladstone Helicopters and Mackay Helicopters - which also operate Airbus Helicopters H135 (EC135 T2+) choppers VH-ZGH and VH-ZGP.  It was observed that the engineers at both facilities were very interested to look over the ADF choppers during their visit!

Sincere thanks to local plane spotter Michael F for taking the time to capture and send through these great photos at Gladstone Airport!

All photos taken by Michael Fleetwood  ©

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