If you venture down to Louisiana, you will find it to be the home of fabulous cooking, Mardi Gras (Fat Tuesday in English) and Shreveport, the home of Metro Aviation.
Metro Aviation was incorporated in 1982 as a helicopter charter, flight training and maintenance operation. Its entry into the air medical service business came in November 1983 with the acquisition of two used Hughes 500-D model helicopters, when Metro Aviation entered into a long-term agreement to provide helicopter ambulance service for Schumpert Medical Center, in Shreveport, LA.
Starting with Schumpert and continuing with every customer thereafter, Metro has remained committed to a simple, involved management style. Metro Aviation’s entire management is always available for questions, comments and decisions. The hands-on style practiced by their senior management often results in preventing potential issues and working through any areas of concern before they become problems. This basic business practice was laid as Metro’s cornerstone and has remained in place ever since.
Today, Metro Aviation’s reputation for excellence in helicopter transportation services is internationally recognized. As such, they have enjoyed substantial growth, and that growth has been carefully controlled to allow them the opportunity to select only the most qualified personnel. Regardless of its size, Metro Aviation has remained committed to the basic principles it outlined years ago and continues to practice.
Now it also offers a new twist on training. Not only can its customers receive pilot training on the aircraft Metro Aviation is completing for them, but now the customer’s maintenance specialists can also receive factory maintenance training from Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney. It can also provide human factors and fatigue training to the maintenance team.
Our story on the training center continues with an interview with Terry Palmer, Metro Aviation’s director of training.
HMM– Hello, Terry. What is the primary business of Metro Aviation and what led to the decision to build a customer training center?
Palmer– Metro Aviation is one of the largest air medical operators in the US, operating more than 120 aircraft in 18 states. Metro is a certified airframe modification, maintenance, inspection and repair center, as well as a certified engine inspection, maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) service center. The Metro Aviation completion center installs air medical, utility, corporate and law enforcement kits, components and avionics packages for most Airbus Helicopters. Metro built the Helicopter Flight Training Center to provide a centralized training resource center for Metro Aviation and its customers, affiliates and the helicopter community. The training center focuses on maintenance and flight training.
HMM– What courses are offered at this time?
Palmer – The training center is continually growing and adding opportunities. We have a dedicated high-tech maintenance classroom with workbenches, tools and equipment for training. Turbomeca and Pratt & Whitney are using our facility for their factory courses. We also have an EC135 Full Motion Level D simulator and an AS350 Level 7 Flight Training Device (FTD), available for pilot and maintenance training. Simulators are dry leased to operators throughout the industry. The Training Center is a resource used by industry experts to provide a training environment specific to helicopter operations.
HMM– If a Turbomeca course is taught at your center, is it any different from the same course taught at Turbomeca?
Palmer– Courses at the Helicopter Flight Training Center are the same courses offered by Turbomeca in other locations. The Helicopter Flight Training Center (a Metro Aviation company), is an authorized location for Turbomeca training. Turbomeca classes are provided on a quarterly schedule. The Turbomeca training is listed on Turbomeca’s scheduling website as the Shreveport location. Turbomeca provides the instructors, course materials and equipment used for training.
Pratt & Whitney classes are also offered on a quarterly schedule and are taught by Pratt & Whitney authorized instructors under license with Flight Safety International. FlightSafety provides all course materials and equipment.
Metro Aviation provides access to aircraft, component overhaul shop and flight simulators to supplement the courses.
HMM – Is there a cost to the students to use the training center?
Palmer – At this time there is no cost for the use of the training center and course fees are paid to the course provider. There is an option for Metro Aviation customers to build the cost of training into their completion contract.
The actual costs for the Turbomeca training are specified by Turbomeca and costs for the Pratt & Whitney training are specified by FlightSafety.
HMM – Do you help the prospective students with airline, hotel and car reservations?
Palmer– The training center has negotiated special rates at local hotels to include ground transportation to and from the airport and training center.
HMM– What OEMs are currently working with you in the training environment, and can you tell us who else you are talking to?
Palmer– We are currently making the training center available to other OEMs for airframe, engine and avionics equipment training. As the training center continues to grow, more options will become available.
HMM– Why should an A&P mechanic come to your center for training?
Palmer– This is an alternate location for existing OEM training. Companies that are purchasing aircraft and completions from Metro will find the facility convenient for their personnel. All students will have access to Metro’s facilities and simulators that are not offered anywhere else.
HMM– Are there maintenance simulators for the students?
Palmer– As we mentioned above, maintenance students have access to the flight simulators as well as the component overhaul shop. Avionics simulation will be added within the next year.
HMM – Are the courses offered recognized for IA renewal?
Palmer– The current courses are recognized as OEM factory training. Additional offerings will be added in the near future that will include IA renewal and human factors.
HMM– Can you share your growth vision for the training center?
Palmer – The training center was created to address the needs of the industry and as such, is a living, evolving project. We will continue to build our programs based on the input of our customers, as well as industry trends. We have room for two additional simulators, as well as more training opportunities. The sky is truly the limit. We currently offer maintenance courses on the following:
More information is available on our website at: www.metroaviation.com
Now you have three great reasons to visit Louisiana: great food, Mardi Gras and Metro Aviation’s helicopter flight training center.