New $80M training facility opens at Leonardo Helicopters in NE Philadelphia

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Leonardo Helicopters has opened an $80 million helicopter training academy at their existing campus in Northeast Philadelphia.

They began welcoming customers in April.

"This is a state-of-the-art facility for the aviation industry, and it's right here in Northeast Philadelphia," said Michael Cooper, Manager of External Relations and Communications at Leonardo.

Leonardo has been in Philadelphia since 1980, adjoining Northeast Philadelphia Airport. Their site houses production, support and administrative functions for the United States.

"Anyone who flies a Leonardo helicopter or any helicopter for that matter not only needs to train and certify on that type of aircraft, but they need recurrent training to maintain credentials," Cooper explained.

The academy is modeled after Leonardo's facility in Sesto Calende, Italy.

"This is a global company that not only believes in this region, but is really putting the investment in," Cooper said.

Cooper gave Action News a tour.

He brought us into one spacious room, where experienced technicians come to learn to maintain and repair Leonardo's specific helicopters.

"We have the rotor here. We have landing gear here. We have engine rebuild here," Cooper indicated, pointing to the pieces of equipment.

There are ten classrooms for ground school.

"Using these large screens...our instructors can provide real direct training on all of our complicated aircraft parts," Cooper demonstrated.

Full flight motion simulators are an environmentally conscious way to give pilots realistic experiences missions, ranging from EMS and passenger transport to challenging weather conditions.

"These simulators are sophisticated enough that they can simulate every type of condition that a pilot may or may not face in their entire career," Cooper said.

Pilots could spend hours in the simulators. When the flight is over, instructors will go through the flights with them to talk about what they did well and what needs improvement.

Afterwards, pilots can go to a quiet space with reclining chairs to reflect, meditate and decompress.

With customers all over the world, the academy will draw visitors to the city, with 1,000 students expected annually, staying an average for three weeks.

"When students are in their off time they like to explore the city," Cooper said.

"We're very proud Philadelphians here," he added.
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