Tag Archives: 212

AHF↑Inside: Austrian AB212 on top

“So, what would you like us to do?”, say two Agusta Bell AB212 helicopter pilots, the badges on their flying suits identifying them as ‘Bundesheer’ pilots. “Err, just fly around a bit”, comes the unrehearsed answer of two Airheadsfly.com editors. The pilots take off, turn around and have decided on what they will really do. They position their five tonnes chopper almost on top of two totally unprepared Airheadsfly.com editors, ensuring camera bags, lens caps, sunglasses, note pads and lost ego’s fly everywhere. The noise is deafening, the wind is blinding and for a moment, peaceful Austria seems far, far away.

But still, we are in Linz, Austria, where two Staffels (squadrons) fly the 23 Agusta Bell AB212 helicopters in service with the Austrian Air Force. “But, I have to say, we are experiencing quiet times now”, says ‘Staffelkommandant’ Andreas Buchmayr as he enters one the hangers that usually house flocks of AB212s, but now only shelter two. “A lot of them are in maintenance or are being given an update – and new life – in Italy by Agusta Westland. Here at Linz, we currently have to make ends meet with only a few available helicopters.”

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
One of several AB212s at Linz already modified with new cockpit technology. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Mainstay
The AB212 has been a mainstay of Austria’s helicopter transport capability since entry into service in 1980. As the fleet amassed over 115,000 flight hours in 2010, an 85 million USD update program was ordered. The goal is to get another 25 years or 100,000 hours out of the helicopters. Modifications bring the 212’s avionics up to par with the latests aviation technology. Self defense suites are also being built into the AB212. The first two modernized choppers were handed over to Kommando Luftunterstützung (Air Support Command) in November 2013.

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
A familiar shape, showing Bell UH-1 Huey heritage. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Cockpit
“It’s actually pretty impressive”, says Buchmayr, who has 3,200 flight hours behind his name and helped develop the AB212 update. “We have a unique set of MFDs in the cockpit, designed exactly to our specifications and making full use of digital technology. Cockpit managment is now completely paperless, as all maps are available on the MFDs, along with complete systems management. It greatly reduces crew workload and makes for easier navigation and communication. The cockpit is now also adapted for use with Helmet Mounted Displays. Flight safety during bad weather and during night time, is greatly improved. Actually, our AB212 helicopters are now at the very top worldwide as far as cockpit technology goes.”

20140521_LINZ_AB212_5DHL_HANGAR
Minor work being done on a AB212 in Linz. (Image © Dennis Spronk)

New cockpits or not, the AB212 mission in Austria remains the same; transporting troops, performing search and rescue operations, fighting fires with bambi buckets and alpine flying in the mountains. The AB212 is a very versatile utility helicopter, which is no wonder considering its Bell UH-1 Huey heritage.

So, it’s also no wonder the Austrians want to keep in service for a lot longer. The update program is planned to by complete by 2016, at which time the hangers at Linz will be filled with choppers once again. Pilots will be fully trained on the new cockpit, and when they ask “so, what would you like us to do?”, two totally prepared Airheadsfly.com editors will know what to answer.

© 2014 Airheadsfly.com editor Elmer van Hest

(Image © Dennis Spronk)
Quiet times allow for a bit of relaxing…. (Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
…. until it’s time to fly! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
Testing being done before a testflight! (Image © Dennis Spronk)
(Image © Dennis Spronk)
“Just fly around a bit.” (Image © Dennis Spronk)

Austrians deploy large air force for Swiss security

An Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon on patrol on 24 January 2014 during the World Economic Forum in Swiss Davos (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)
An Austrian Eurofighter Typhoon on patrol on 24 January 2014 during the World Economic Forum in Swiss Davos (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)

The Austrian Armed Forces (Österreichs Bundesheer) deployed a large air force of 30 aircraft and helicopters and 1100 troops from 21 to 26 January 2014 to help secure the World Economic Forum in Davos in neighbouring Switzerland.

During the entire event Austrian aircraft were present practically 24/7 in the skies over Tirol and Vorarlberg. Any aircraft that entered the area were identified and escorted away. Fortunately, no potential threats posed a big risk.

All available aircraft types of the Bundesheer were deployed during the summit, from the Alouette III, Agusta Bell AB 212s and S-70 Black Hawks to the Eurofighter Typhoons. The Austrian and Swiss Air Forces transferred information electronically, with both countries having liaison officers attached to the air ops staff in the neighbouring nation. Einsatzzentrale Basisraum in St. Johann in Pongau was the Austrian nerve centre during the operation.

Although no information has been given on the number of flight hours made by the aircraft deployed, the air time will be taken off from the yearly quota of each air asset.

Source: Österreichs Bundesheer

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Modernised Austrian AB 212s: 25 years extra

Archive photo of a pair of Austrian AB 212s dropping troops during a military exercise (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)
Archive photo of a pair of Austrian AB 212s dropping troops during a military exercise (Image © Österreichs Bundesheer)

Austrian defence minister Gerald Klug officially transferred the first pair of modernised Agusta Bell 212 to the Air Support Command of the Austrian Armed Forces on 6 November 2013.

The machines of Kommando Luftunterstützung most of all got new avionics and mission gear. Moreover pilots the Österreichs Bundesheer Bell pilots are now able to fly with night vision goggles, increasing the availability of the helicopters at night and in adverse weather conditions. The AB 212s also got a new self-defence suite, including electronic systems like a missile warner, radar lock receiver and a chaff/flare ejection system.

The Agusta Bell 212 is a medium-size tactical transport helicopter with a main two-blade rotor, two turbine engines and enough space to carry 14 personnel. The Austrian Armed Forces use the machine not only for military offensive and defensive operations with for example the 25 Ranger Battalion (Jägerbataillon) or paratroopers, but also for rescue and mountain flying and to combat forest fires.

All 23 AB 212s are due to have undergone the update by 2015. Defence minister Klug believes the modernisation adds another 25 years of service life to the fleet.

Source: Österreiches Bundesheer

Right now: Hot Blade 2013 in Portugal

FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)
FAP Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin 15904 (Image © Força Aérea Portuguesa)

If you like choppers, Portugal is the place to be these days as the Portuguese Air Force (Força Aérea Portuguesa; FAP) hosts the multinational helicopter exercise Hote Blade 13 at Ovar Airbase near the city of Porto.

Hot Blade 13 will see the involvement of 38 aircraft, including two Agusta Westland EH-101 Merlin helicopters from the FAP itself and possibly even a few of the FAP’s F-16 fighter aircraft.

The Royal Netherlands Air Force contributes an Eurocopter AS 532U2 Mk II Cougar and as much as up to five Boeing CH-47D/F Chinooks.

The Austrian Air Force sent three Agusta Bell AB 212s and three Bell OH-58 Kiowas. Four Belgian Air Component Agusta A109BAs has joined the exercise, as well as up to eight German Army UH-1D ‘Hueys’.

Hot Blade 13 started on July 17th and will last till July 31st.

Source: Força Aérea Portuguesa, NL Ministerie van Defensie