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Exercise Blackbird Flies into Marlborough

An A109 helicopter.
An A109 helicopter.

9 June 2017

For the next ten days No. 3 Squadron from the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) will be completing their annual mountain flying and level readiness training for pilots and crew.

Exercise Blackbird will operate out of the Dip Flat Defence Area in the Marlborough region from 12 to 19 June and involve the A109 Light Utility Helicopters.

Detachment Commander for Exercise Blackbird Squadron Leader (SQNLDR) Greg Jane says the training for the A109 pilots and helicopter loadmasters is essential for safe flying in mountainous terrain.

“At home or abroad mountainous terrain requires specific skill and considerations. It is critical that RNZAF helicopter crews are qualified and experienced in high altitude mountain flying,” he said.

The A109 helicopter is used to train the RNZAF helicopter crew who will move onto working on the NH90 or Seasprite helicopters.

“The training that is provided on A109 is a critical step in the professional development of the air crew.

“As a new helicopter pilot or load master, the A109 is an ideal platform to learn the trade. The twin engines, retractable landing gear, 4-axis auto pilot and modern glass cockpit all make for a smooth transition to the NH90 or Seasprite,” said SQLDR Jane.   

As well as conducting flying in the region, crews will also learn theory in meteorological considerations and alpine survival which will broaden their knowledge.

The A109 helicopters are the foundation on which No.3 Squadron operates which helps to provide the best training for our crews.

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