406 Maritime Operational Training Squadron, located at 12 Wing Shearwater, Nova Scotia, is the home of basic Sea King helicopter training in Canada.
Every year, 406 Squadron trains Pilots, Air Combat Systems Officers (ACSO), and Airborne Electronic Sensor Operators (AES Ops) in the fundamental aspects of Sea King flight operations. In addition, the Squadron Technical Training Flight conducts a wide range of Avionics and Aviation courses for Sea King technicians, as well as specialty maintenance courses for personnel from other flying communities. On an annual basis, between 200 and 300 students, aircrew and maintainers alike, graduate from 406 Squadron courses.
The ultimate mission of the Squadron is to provide trained and qualified technicians and aircrew for operational employment by the maritime helicopter community. In our partner Squadrons (423 Squadron at Shearwater, NS and 443 Squadron at Patricia Bay, BC) Sea King graduates from 406 Squadron join helicopter air detachments aboard Her Majesty's Canadian ships to complete their training, and for eventual employment as fully operational, combat-ready air and ground crew.
To achieve the vision of creating Canada's future maritime helicopter warriors, 406 Squadron offers a challenging and dynamic lineup of courses. Pilot courses range from two to four months duration, and offer new and returning pilots instruction in aircraft systems, flight characteristics, and Sea King helicopter handling. The Squadron also provides annual Water Operations training to all active Sea King pilots. Water bird training teaches pilots how to land and take-off from the water using the Sea King's amphibious capability.
On the Sea King, the ACSO is responsible for the tactical coordination of the Aircraft and is referred to as the "TACCO." Over approximately six months of basic instruction, Sea King TACCOs learn how to fly tactical and utility missions in the aircraft, maritime-specific procedures and communications, maritime weapons systems, and surface and sub-surface warfare. Operating in company with AES Ops, TACCOs also learn search and rescue procedures, including hoisting, use of a double lift harness, and Stokes litter evacuation.
The final member of the Sea King aircrew team is the AES Ops, or airborne electronic sensor operator. Drawing upon non-commissioned members who have previously been qualified in other trades or by direct entry into the Canadian Forces, the AES Ops brings experience and the ability to specialize over long periods to the task of operating the Sea King sensor suite. In the aircraft, the AES Ops is primarily responsible for operating the dipping sonar, but also has communications, radar operation, and search and rescue responsibilities. The AES Ops course lasts an average of four months for new candidates.
Technicians play a critical support role in maintaining the capability of the Sea King weapons system, and the majority of 406 Squadron instructional staff are devoted to this task. Within the Technical Training Flight, apprentice avionics and aviation technicians learn skills that will enable them to maintain the Sea King ashore and at sea. The flight also instructs specialized courses in aircraft system repair, and conducts safety training for confined spaces and sea survival. On average, the Technical Training Flight is responsible for over 90% of the total annual graduates from 406 Squadron.
Overall, the personnel of 406 Squadron represent the foundation of the Sea King community. With new programs coming on line, and with existing courses constantly undergoing updating, Sea King flight and technical training will continue to advance, even as the introduction of the CH-148 becomes a reality and the school begins its transition to teaching on the new airframe. Whatever the aircraft, and no matter the challenge, 406 Squadron will remain committed to creating Canada's future maritime helicopter warriors.