First Student Naval Aviators begin training in New Helicopter System

First naval aviator students begin training on new helicopter system

MILTON, Fla. – Twelve naval aviator students from Naval Air Station (NAS) Whiting Field in Milton, Fla., began advanced helicopter training in the new TH-73A Thrasher aircraft in early September.
NAS Whiting Field accepted the first TH-73A in August 2021 as a replacement for the 40-year-old TH-57 Sea Ranger aircraft. The TH-57 Sea Ranger provides basic helicopter training and advanced instrument flight rules training to hundreds of aviation students each year at NAS Whiting Field. The current TH-57B was introduced in 1981, followed by the TH-57C in 1982, which will be phased out as the TH-73A comes on board.
“Training TH-73A students has taken years and I am thrilled on behalf of everyone who has helped us get here,” said Cmdr. Annie Otten, Commanding Officer, Helicopter Training (HT) Squadron 8. “I’m especially pleased that the HT-8 ‘Eightballers’ are the ones to help transition students and instructors to the new aircraft. We’re all on this trip together, and I can’t wait to get the students on the plane.
Otten noted that the TH-73A will make student training more representative of fleet helicopters, streamlining training. Primary aviation training students first fly the T-6B Texan II aircraft, which features a glass display cockpit. If selected for helicopters, students move into the current TH-57, which has older digital or analog displays.
After graduating from advanced helicopter training, students will then move on to fleet aircraft, which use glass display cockpits. Thus, they are required to transition several times using different technologies during the training. The TH-73A has glass displays that are representative and more accurately reflect what pilots will see in the fleet.
“The first thing we’re going to see with the students is that the glass cockpit that they trained in and the scan that they developed in the T-6 is going to go to this aircraft (TH-73A), and we’ll see them choose things happen earlier than in the TH-57,” Otten said.
Additionally, Air Wing Five training staff and the Chief of Naval Aviation Training Staff have worked over the past few years to improve the efficiency of the training program in preparation for the new helicopter.
“University engineers and several PhDs contributed, and we looked at learning theory to affect a more efficient curriculum so that students could use the information,” said Captain Jack Waldron, TH-Pipeline Officer. 57 and TH-73A of the US Marine Corps. . “For the Instructor Pilots (IP) – we started training on the Leonardo AW-119, which is a bit different from the TH-73A. We had to replicate maneuvers, validate and adjust so that there was a program safe, well designed and well thought out. Our goal was to make this program as safe and effective as possible.”
Getting to the point where (IPs) could fly the TH-73A and then start training students was a process in itself.
“We had to learn to fly the plane first so we could teach IPs,” said Major Luke Zumbusch, US Marine Corps, one of the first instructor pilots to convert to the TH-73A. “Our job was to validate and verify that we could teach maneuvers safely. For example, a normal approach, a steep approach, trainings for IPs who eventually teach students in the TH-73A. Validating that the flow of the program is good, the pace and type of training and the media in which the training was presented was the job of the instructors in training (IUT). Their job was to validate these maneuvers and profiles.
Before students start flying the new helicopter, they will complete a rigorous basic course in virtual reality and flight simulators to prepare them for the more powerful helicopter.
“We took this time to make a complete cultural shift (moving to the TH-73A),” Waldron commented. “There is the concept of having iPads with access to course content and aviation-specific apps for flight planning, briefing or in-flight navigation. We’re not just changing the delivery method, we’re changing the actual media they use. The virtual reality environment also provides a mixed reality environment. Students will ask questions. It’s a change in philosophy.
From start to finish, aviation students spend approximately 38 weeks in the advanced training program at Whiting before graduating and progressing to larger operational fleet helicopters, such as the H-60, H -53 and AH-1.
“This transition will bring the next generation of naval rotary aviators to the fleet,” Otten commented. “For the students themselves, their training time is quite close to the TH-57. We hope they can maintain the same training time. With the efficiency the team has built into the new program, along with leveraging new technology and the power the plane brings, I think we’re going to be able to produce a stronger student. The years of effort to get us to this point is probably the most exciting thing – it’s actually here.
According to Waldron, CNATRA and wing personnel have been planning and developing the new advanced helicopter training system for five years, to include the infrastructure and maintenance of the new TH-73A.
“With every transition to a new airframe there will be challenges,” said Capt. Jade Lepke, US Navy, Commodore, Training Air Wing Five. “What we saw at the end was that the team really bonded. I was proud and impressed to see how far we’ve come with the ability to affect change and improve training We all work together and everyone is invested in making this the safest and most effective training program in the Navy.
The Fifth Training Air Wing based at Whiting Field is the largest aeronautical training wing in the Naval Air Training Command (CNATRA). He is responsible for training 60% of elementary school aviation students in the T-6 aircraft and 100% of all Navy, Navy, and Coast Guard helicopter students.

Date taken: 20.09.2022
Date posted: 22.09.2022 12:22
Story ID: 429867
Location: MILTON, Florida, USA

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