Eglin pilots receive ratings for new helicopter

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Maj. Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington, 413th Flight Test Squadron, are the first Air Force pilots to earn a Type Rating on the AW-139 helicopter July 29. The pilots completed the five-week course on the civilian counterpart to the Air Force’s new MH-139 helicopter. That aircraft will replace the Air Force’s aging UH-1N Huey. A Type Rating is a FAA certification to fly a specific aircraft. (Courtesy photograph)

Test pilots from the 413th Flight Test Squadron [based at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla.] became the first Air Force pilots to receive a Type rating on the AW-139 helicopter, in Whippany, N.J., July 29, 2019.

Maj. Zach Roycroft and Tony Arrington completed the five-week contracted course on the civilian counterpart to the Air Force’s new MH-139 helicopter.  That aircraft will replace the Air Force’s aging UH-1N Huey.

“This puts our team one step closer to flight testing the new aircraft when production is completed,” said Roycroft, lead MH-139 test pilot for the squadron.  “Ultimately, it puts the Air Force one step closer to delivery of a much-needed increase in capability.”

A Type rating is an FAA qualification for a specific aircraft. 

As the test pilots were in flight training, 413th FLTS and Air Force Global Strike Command Airmen were completing the maintenance technician course for the same aircraft.  Those Airmen are also being trained on the unique systems included in the MH-139 like the hoist and cargo hook.

The knowledge gathered from the training will allow the Airmen to safely operate the aircraft systems, perform effective developmental testing and teach their counterparts, according to Tech. Sgt. Joe Kendall, a 413th FLTS special mission aviator.

The MH-139 delivery marks the first time in recent history the Air Force will receive a rotary wing asset not previously used in another branch of the military.

“Every engineer, pilot, and SMA is dedicated to ensure the UH-1N community receives the most capable replacement aircraft to defend our nation’s assets,” said Roycroft.

The Air Force plans to purchase 84 MH-139 helicopters over the next decade. The first aircraft delivery to the 413th FLTS is scheduled for late November.