Leonardo Helicopters opens training academy

The $80 million facility allows the helicopter manufacturer to construct aircrafts and train pilots all at its Northeast Philadelphia site.

An AW609 model simulator that will provide students hands-on training at Leonardo Helicopter’s new training academy next to the Northeast Philadelphia Airport.

Helicopter manufacturer Leonardo Helicopters recently opened a training academy for new sites at its Northeast Philadelphia location at 3050 Red Lion Road.

The $80 million project is expected to provide training services for 1,000 students per year using virtual training and simulations. Average training will take 30 days to complete.

The center features 10 classrooms designed to increase interactivity. Three maintenance simulators – for AW139, AW119 and soon AW609 helicopter models – will provide familiarity with different aspects of aircrafts. Two full-flight simulators – AW139 and AW169-609 – will provide realistic training for specific missions like off-shore, law enforcement, EMS and passenger transport. The AW169 is one of two such simulators currently operational in the world.

The additional seat time in simulators will help reduce costs and pollution from fuel transmission in actual aircrafts, Leonardo Managing Director William Hunt said.

Some flight simulators were formerly located at a site in Whippany, N.J. The training academy helps make the Northeast Philadelphia location a one-stop shop, Hunt said.

“We purposely co-located the academy next to our main production, support and administrative offices because we wanted to not only provide cutting-edge training with modern technology to our customers, but also give them an inside view of our organization, our culture and how our product is made,” he said.

Hunt said the $80 million is also an investment in the surrounding community as it will bring people to the area and provide job opportunities.

The academy is opening amid growing demand for pilots, cabin crews and maintenance technicians across North and South America. It matches a similar facility in Sesto-Calende, Italy.

The academy was built in a warehouse where the manufacturer used to store parts. Those parts were moved to a new warehouse on the other side of the industrial park.

Leonardo announced the project in at the Heli-Expo in Atlanta in March 2019. The project largely followed its planned timeline despite the COVID-19 pandemic. ••