Bierset Wing Heli...just before moving !

 

Text & Pictures : Serge Van Heertum - SBAP
 

Since 1995, Bierset Air Base, near the city of Liège is the home base of the Wing Heli of the Air Component. The wing is equipped with four Agusta A109 version (Liaison, Medevac, Recce and Antitank) for a total of 27 helicopter (This amount will be reduced to 20 machines). The 70 pilots of the unit are doing around 150 flight hours on annual basis.

2010 is the year of changes for this unit. In September the flying group and their Agusta A109 will move to Beauvechain Air Base due to the restructuration plan of the Air Component. The other departments will follow the move and all should be completed in April 2011.

Thanks to our colleagues of “Les Ailes Militaires Belges”, we had the opportunity to pay a visit, probably for the last time, to the Bierset military infrastructure before the handover by the Liège Airport authorities.
A large history page of the Belgian Air Force that started in 1922, will be definitively turned !

 

255 Maintenance group

This group is responsible for the Agusta maintenance and is divided into two different sections. The inspection section deals with  the planned maintenance at 600 hours and 2400 hours. The 2400 hours inspection includes the dismantling of most of the equipment and can take up to four or five months.

The second section is the intervention group that is in charge of trouble shooting in case of failure, the non planned operations and the 100 and 300 inspections. This 300 hours inspection will take about a month.

The maintenance group is able to make new pieces themselves except the ones in composite material. This is handled by the technical school of Saafranberg.

 
   
Towed out to purge all liquids Agusta undergoing major inspection
   
All elements are inspected, electrical, mechanical, hydraulic...
   
The dashboard completely disassembled And this one partialy
   
Engine inspection All is done at Bierset behalve the new composite elements
   
Detail of the main rotor Tail rotor shaft
   
Blades rack Allison 250-C20B engine waiting to be mounted
   
The 2400 hours inspection can take four to five month's After inspection, ready to get back to the flight line
   
Intervention hangar Replacement of engine seals
   
Some difficult access panels 300 hrs inspection
   
Engine installation The H42, also ready for ground test
   
A MEDEVAC version The appron at maintenace building for the run up test
   
The maintenance apron is situated at the entry of Bierset Air Base Special towing engine for the Agusta
   

Fire brigade

The “fire fighters” of Bierset are equipped with different kinds of trucks and vans. The most important and best adapted to the helicopter recovery is the Sides. The truck is equipped with water and foam. These can be used separately or in combination in function of the necessity. The spray distance is 30 meters. This vehicle is also equipped with a compressor and lifting cushions
(the biggest one can lift around 10 ton
s), oxygen reserve, extrication equipment…

The fire brigade has also a special van for chemical intervention to neutralise the F-16 hydrazine for example. These men are the key point of security during the flight operations !

 
   
Mercedes truck Sides truck, the most appropriatefor helicopter crash
   
Fully equiped for all kind of situation... ...and specialy adapted for helicopter interventions
   


Flight simulator and Tactical trainer.
 

In a special building, the big flight simulator is installed. This simulator of around  15 ton is a must for the crew training. This simulator is mainly used to train the crew in case of special situations. During a flight 500 kind of failures can be simulated.  The simulator is also used for navigation training of flights with night vision goggles (NVG).Each pilot will do 4 courses of 4 hours during a calendar year at left seat and also at the right seat of the cockpit (each pilot should be able to take every function). The flight simulator is not only used by the Belgian crews, to assure the profitability, courses are also organised for foreign Agusta users, like the British Army pilots when they brought Argentinian Agustas after the Falklands war. Just near this 15 ton giant, we could find a link trainer used in the seventies to train the Alouette II crew. This link trainer seems so little near his big brother !
Just near the simulator is another space where we could find the BA²T² (Belgian Army Aviation Tactical Trainer). This is a trainer especially programmed for the tactical aspect of a mission like the different situations that a pilot can encounter on the battlefront. Thanks to the five terminals, the crews can prepare and coordinate their missions together and train the best interactions between the different helicopters.

 
   
The A109 flight simulator The link trainer used in the year 1970's
   
Instructors control desk Closer to the real conditions
   
The BA2T2 room, the five desk can be used in resaut Helpfull to train all kind of tactical missions

Liège Airport control tower

This place is wonderful to have a view on the airport and on the military side of the base. The particularity of Liège tower is that the traffic is handled by the military controllers during the Air Force operations and as soon as the flying day is finished at military side, the tower operations are handed over to the Belgocontrol civilian controllers. Due to the move of the Wing Heli to Beauvechain, a special agreement was signed between the Military authorities and Belgocontrol, to keep the military controllers a little bit longer and to give time for the formation of new civilian controllers.
 

A last view of the military side of Bierset, shortly it will be an history page Liège traffic control is done by the Air Component controllers
 during the military flights
   
The civil traffic is still groing... Liège Airport, homebase of TNT...and shortly a souvenir for the Belgian Air Force

 

See also the history of the Light Avi and Wing Heli by Lt Olivier "Mel" Gilson :

SBAP team would like to thanks Bierset Airbase authorities and our different guides for the opportunity.
Daniel De Wispelaere (Les Ailes Militaires Belges) for the organistaion of the Bierset Air Base visit.

 

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