|A pilot gets trained on how to land on an oil rig at HATSOFF facility in Bangalore.|
By Anantha Krishnan M
Express News ServiceBangalore: International civil helicopter pilots have zeroed in on Bangalore to fine-tune their skills on flight simulators. Living up to their expectations with cost-effective training is the Helicopter Academy to Train by Simulation of Flying (HATSOFF), a JV project between Hindustan Aeronautics Limited (HAL) and CAE (Canada).
Set to turn four years coming June, HATSOFF now caters to 100 per cent domestic market in India with Bell 412 EP, HAL's civil Dhruv and the Eurocopter's Dauphin 365 N3 simulators operating in tandem at its facility in Vimanapura. All the units are certified as Level D, FFS/FFMS (Full Motion/Full Mission Simulators), the highest qualification for flight simulators. The line up of international customers have been steadily on the rise with pilots from Australia (Bell), Canada (CHC Helicopter), Ecuador (FAE) and Japan being among the regulars.
HAL chairman R K Tygai tells Express on Friday that HATSOFF has emerged as one of the fast-growing simulator training facilities in the world. "The scale for us to measure the success of HATSOFF is the feedback we have been receiving from the customers, which has been encouraging. Domestic and international enrollments will further increase, making it one of the best in the world," says Tyagi.
HATSOFF currently provides training to 100 per cent domestic market in the civil sector in India with all major operators including Pawan Hans, Global Vectra, Heligo, UHPC, GMR and a few state governments enrolling their pilots for training. In the military segment, in addition to the three Services, Coast Guard and the Border Security Force have been sending their pilots to HATSOFF.
Capt N S Krishna, CEO and Chief of Training at HATSOFF says that new market potential is currently being explored in South East Asian region. "Bangalore has the advantage of good connectivity and the travel and living cost is low compared to other major cities abroad. We have kept a very competitive cost and is ready to offer prime slots during core hours of the day," says Capt Krish, a veteran pilot, who won laurels following the Dhruv crash in 2005. He had safely force-landed the helicopter after a tail rotor blade failure, with all onboard escaping unhurt.
Capt Ajay Ramakrishnan, a Dhruv helicopter pilot with Pawan Hans says that the training at HATSOFF proved handy to overcome a crisis. "We had an emergency due to bad weather in Raipur with the visibility suddenly becoming zero. We were able to recover the chopper only because of the training we received at HATSOFF," says Capt Ajay.
Since the Dhruv Mk-3 and Mk-4 variants are very highly complex machines, HATSOFF permits the pilots to train to proficiency in operating advance systems before they actually fly the machine. The military variant of Dhruv is expected to be added to the facility by 2015.
HATSOFF has so far logged in close to 4000 hours of training sessions with 120 Bell, 100 Dauphin and 30 Dhruv pilots getting exposure to simulation flying. It offers pilots all kinds of terrains such as hills, desert, oil rigs, jungles, extreme high altitude and rooftop helipads. These enable them to train in terrains they actually fly.
Copyright@The New Indian Express