Australian Navy Celebrates 30 Years of Operating the AS350BA ‘Squirrel’
For the venerable AS350BA ‘Squirrel’ helicopter and the
men and women of Royal Australian Navy (RAN) 723 Squadron, 2014 proved
to be a remarkable year. The Squadron achieved significant flying hours
undertaking aircrew training and fleet support tasking in the ‘Squirrel’.
But what made their achievements all the more impressive, is the fact
that the Squirrel fleet celebrated its 30th birthday with the RAN this
Squirrel helicopter 806 at the Naval Air Station, HMAS Albatross, Nowra.
Picture: Royal Australian Navy
723 Squadron conducted over 3,500 hours of flying time on the AS350
for this calendar year, a figure that has not been matched since the
early 1990s. What’s more, when accounting for the 1,330 hours
logged on the squadron’s other workhorse, the Bell 429, 723 Squadron
achieved the highest rate of effort in the entire Fleet Air Arm for
Commanding Officer Commander Alan Moore, praised the efforts of those
who made the feat possible.
“I am extremely proud of the efforts of all personnel who have
been involved with the ‘Squirrel’ over its 30 year history
and the efforts they have put in, whether maintaining, flying or supporting
the aircraft to achieve a most remarkable safety, operational and training
record," he said.
The AS350BA Squirrel fleet is due to retire in 2018 with the planned
introduction of the AIR 9000 Phase 7 (Airbus Helicopter EC135) Helicopter
Aircrew Training System into Australian Defence Force service.