American Eurocopter announced several new initiatives at the recent Airborne Law Enforcement Association (ALEA) annual convention, most of them related to how the company supports the more than 200 AS350 AStars in use with U.S. law-enforcement agencies.
Eurocopter is teaming with the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) air support division to provide AS350B2 level-B simulator training at the company’s Grand Prairie campus for the department’s 50 pilots. The simulator coursework will be supplemented by online training and covers various scenarios, including avoiding and recovering from inadvertent IMC and CFIT. The training began in December. “This training has changed the way we do business,” said LAPD Sgt. Jorge Gonzalez.
The $6 million simulator is NVG-capable and includes an avionics suite with autopilot and a law-enforcement mission suite for a tactical flight officer with Flir sensor, moving map, tactical radios and slaved searchlight. Airborne law enforcement exercises with interaction between pilot and tactical flight officer cover patrol, vehicle and foot pursuits, homeland-security missions and airborne use of force for Swat personnel toting 5.56- and 7.62-mm weapons along with playback scoring of shots. The simulator features a full-motion platform and a high-resolution 240- by 80-degree field of view visual system and graphics for major metropolitan areas, including Los Angeles and Dallas, over-water and mountainous missions, and scene work featuring hospitals, highway accidents and urban helipads. Training covers emergency procedures, single-pilot and crew resource management, night-vision-goggles operations and instrument, transition, emergency procedures and recurrent training certified to CFR Part 141 and 142.
The simulator is convertible for the AS350B2 and B3 equipped with the vehicle and engine multifunction display (VEMD), and includes a tactical command console that facilitates the direction and monitoring of training by chief pilots and agency incident commanders. The console doubles as a pilot or team debriefing station in post-flight mission reviews.
12-Year Inspection Option
Separately, American Eurocopter is providing a turnkey solution at its Grand Prairie campus for AS350 operators facing 12-year inspections.
When provided by Eurocopter, the inspection effectively resets the inspection cycles to zero and allows the aircraft to be completely updated by incorporating all existing factory configuration changes and FAA mandates such as ADs. The company can offer on-site repair of composite structures, rotor blades, dynamic components and other key components. Engine work and parts are available at the adjacent Turbomeca USA facility. The company also suggests that this is a cost-effective time for operators to make equipment changes, and upgrades and have the aircraft repainted. Eurocopter Grand Prairie maintains its own two-bay paint shop.
A Eurocopter spokesman said a typical 12-year inspection costs approximately $80,000 (base price) and takes six to eight weeks. Customers can expect to spend one day reviewing aircraft records and conducting an acceptance flight before returning to their home base.
“We chose American Eurocopter over other bidders because we feel that if we have the factory doing the work we get back a really high-quality product,” said Brian Parsons, director of maintenance for the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office Aviation Section in Tampa, Fla. American Eurocopter recently delivered one of the agency’s AS350B2s after completing the 12-year inspection. “Their turn-around time was faster than they quoted. We’re very satisfied with the end product we have after the inspection,” Parsons said.