Awarded to an individual, group or organisation that has made an outstanding contribution toward the achievement of excellence in the delivery of flying training or instructional standards.
2019 awarded to: 673 Squadron Army Air Corps
673 Squadron Army Air Corps has been the Apache AH1 Conversion to Type (CTT) training squadron for the British Army since 2003. The Squadron has trained every single UK Apache pilot since the Army brought the helicopter into service; keeping pace with the Front Line demands throughout. In parallel, the Squadron has re-trained all pilots returning to the cockpit from other duties and taught all Qualified Helicopter Instructors (QHI) for their Competence to Instruct and category upgrades. The Army Air Corps is now poised to replace the Apache AH1 from 2020, and so 673 Squadron’s job will be complete. In the Squadron’s 16-year history it has established a quite remarkable legacy of instructional excellence and institutional transformation.
The introduction of the Apache WAH 64-D to the British Army led to a step change in capability which needed to be matched by a step change in instruction. The initial QHIs were selected from a pool of high quality, very experienced aviators, ready to meet the challenge of the British Army’s first truly complex aircraft and the only tandem rotary-wing cockpit in the MOD’s inventory. The tandem cockpit alone presented many CRM challenges in the early days, but as the training experience grew, the ability to overcome these issues and provide the highest level of output was achieved. Those first instructors set the ethos for the Squadron; they professionalised the approach to training delivery and introduced new concepts (such as electronic mission planning and weapons delivery) at a very early stage in a pilot’s career. Their ethos of professionalism and dedication endures and can be found in all QHIs who have been trained by and taught on 673 Squadron. This is reflected in the quality and dedication of the pilots trained by those instructors, some of whom have been with the Squadron since the beginning and are still providing instructional excellence as civilians, having retired from the military.
Underpinning this success is the dedication from the support staff and companies that have enabled 673 Squadron to achieve the relentless pace of course delivery. Army Air Corps signallers have provided Ops and flight planning support, including management of the electronic Mission Planning System to the Squadron at home base and deployed at all times of day and night. Apache Contract Maintenance have consistently delivered the contracted aircraft availability, even maintaining output as the fleet size has diminished over the years and Aviation Training International Limited (now BD UK) have provided exceptional technical ground-school training and synthetic training support through the Full Motion Simulators and part task training equipment they provide.
The Squadron has ensured the Attack Helicopter Force have received a constant stream of high-quality Apache pilots throughout their tenure; adjusting output to meet the demands placed on them by Op HERRICK, Op ENTIRETY and a return to Contingency Operations. Over 16 years the Squadron has delivered 24 CTTs; training over 390 Apache AH1 pilots, and over 160 returning pilots and instructors. The Squadron has flown more than 40,000 instructional hours; flying more than 3000 hours a year, at a rate of up to 19 sorties a day. Each CTT has required constant and relentless focus and commitment from the Squadron’s QHIs. Each CTT course has taken over nine months to deliver; five of which are required to be flown at night on unforgiving reverse-cycle at significant impact to domestic normality.
673 Squadron has been outstanding. From its inception it developed new and novel instructional techniques to ensure the successful exploitation of new and exciting capabilities and technologies. It has had a lasting effect on the Army Air Corps and has established a long record of instructional excellence, uncompromising standards and unparalleled output. Furthermore, 673 Sqn has set the benchmark of excellence as the AAC transitions to the AH-64 E model and has built a platform upon which continued success is inevitable. Accordingly, 673 Squadron is awarded the Central Flying School Trophy.
2005/06 Captain Derek Jones
2006/07 Squadron Leader Anthony N Clements
2007/08 Squadron Leader Peter Howlett
2008/09 Hawk Synthetic Training Facility RAF Valley
2009/10 Squadron Leader Selwyn Williams
2010/11 Captain Dieter Harms
2011/12 Alexander John Hurrell BA cfs
2012/13 The Royal Air Force Search and Rescue Training Unit (SARTU) RAF Valley
2013/14 Ian Douglas Fogarty AFC qfi
2014/15 Royal Air Force Puma HC2 Aircrew Training Team
2016 Tayside Aviation Ltd
2017 Wing Commander Harry Palmer
2018 Squadron Leader John Benson-Cooper RNZAF
653 Squadron Army Air Corps
2019 673 Squadron Army Air Corps