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131 EMVO squadron
Latest update: June 2020
131 EMVO (Elementaire Militaire Vlieger Opleiding – Elementary Military Flying Training) squadron celebrated her 30th anniversary in 2018. The squadron was activated on October 10, 1988. It’s responsible for training of all future Royal Netherlands Air Force and Navy pilots. The later for 860 squadron which is equipped with the NHI NH90-NFH and based at De Kooy.

Before EMVO stood up the Dutch basic pilot training phase was conducted at the Euro-NATO Joint Jet Pilot Training Program (ENJJPT) at Sheppard AFB, Texas. As the RNLAF was faced with a high percentage of students not completing the training syllabuses it decided to start training its pilots at Woensdrecht before sending them to the United States. EMVO was born and adopted the crest MEA DOCTRINA VOLANTES’ (Through my lessons they learn to fly).
Main Support Base Woensdrecht
The squadron is based at RNLAF Air Base Woensdrecht in the province of Noord Brabant and just south of the city of Bergen op Zoom. It’s the RNLAF main support base and houses the Royal Air Force Military School (KMSL - Koninklijke Militaire School Luchtmacht) and Logistics Centre Woensdrecht (LCW). The LCW provides maintenance on almost all RNLAF aircraft types and maintains the supplies. Currently construction takes place to house both the F-35 Lightning II engine maintenance center and a warehouse to store and distribute spare parts for the European area of F-35 operators. The opposite part of the base is used by civilian companies specialized in aircraft maintenance.
EMVO 2019
On April 1, 2019 Major Remy Helmhout assumed command of EMVO. The major was the commanding officer of 299 squadron at Gilze-Rijen. Squadron commander positions are normally assigned for a three-year term but CLSK (RNLAF command) asked the major to accept a reassignment. His roots within the RNLAF trace back to 1989 where he was a student in the third EMVO class continuing in the first VVO class (Voortgezette Vlieger Opleiding – Advanced Flight Training). Throughout his career the major accumulated over 4.500 flying hours almost all of them on the different helicopter types operated by the RNLAF and over 40% (1.700+ hours) of these as an instructor pilot.

EMVO is tasked by the RNLAF Director of Personnel and Operations who provides the number of pilots to be trained for its weapon systems (fighter, transport, helicopter and UAV aircraft). The selection of new personnel is carried out by the Center for People and Aviation located in Soesterberg. People who have applied to become a pilot and who have passed all physiological and mental test will start their RNLAF career at the Koninklijke Militaire Academie (KMA - Royal Military Academy). Graduates continue their training at the KMSL where EMVO (C-131 EMVO Sqn) is responsible for the MPL-TK (Military Pilot License – Theoretical Knowledge) course. During six-months they will be taught the theoretical part of aviation including conducting aircraft checks, briefings etc. After completing the MPL-TK course they will be assigned to a class of EMVO and start their basic pilot training. The squadron currently runs four basic pilot training courses annually. Each class is comprised of between 8 to 12 students. In the past EMVO also ran the VVO course but this type of training has been dropped from its tasking.

Each student is entitled to request his/her preferred future weapon system based on the on the available positions. They will need to submit their motivation letter explaining their choice. Their future positioning decision is however taken by the EMVO commander and his three ‘vakoudsten’ the most senior staff of IP’s from the fighter, air transport and helicopter community. “The decision is taken on who we consider the most suitable for a system and placement. Currently the Defence Helicopter Command has the highest demand for new pilots. About 70 to 80 percent of the students continue their training at Fort Rucker, Alabama when selected to fly the Boeing CH-47D/F Chinook  AH-64D Apache. New pilots assigned for either the AS532-U2 Cougar or NH90-NFH will be send to the German Army international helicopter training center at Bückeburg. The remaining positions are allocated to the ENJJPT."

The Ministry of Defence faced a long period of annual budget cuts resulting in shortage of qualified personnel and supplies throughout its armed forces. This also affected the work of EMVO resulting in a high workload for both maintenance personnel as well as IP’s. The former commander, Col. Ben Kamstra, was forced to halt pilot training in February. After short period used to implement improvements the flying operations were resumed. Currently the squadron has eight instructor pilots assigned (excluding the squadron commander and operations officer).
Instructor and student pilots
Captain Pieter is one of the EMVO instructor pilots (IP). After graduation from EMVO he continued flying the CH-47D Chinook first at Fort Rucker followed by his operational posting at 298 squadron at Gilze-Rijen AB. In 2016 he joined EMVO to become an IP. The cadre of instructors consist of two type of pilots. Aviators who already were an IP on another aircraft and pilots who will need to be trained to become an instructor. Both must complete the PC-7 Type Rating Course which takes about three months to complete. The later however are to complete the IP conversion training program which takes six months. Capt. Pieter explains. “You will become an instructor and learn how to judge a student and how to create an environment in which the student can learn. You learn what he or she needs and are discussing instructing skills. How do you communicate with the student. We must make the translation from instructions to how these are interpreted by the student. As example, we must guide the student. The IP needs to steer the head of a student while flying a demo, if you want a student to look at what you want them to look at you will have to tell the student."

The basic pilot training syllabus is dived into three blocks with a total amount of 30 flying hours which takes, depending on the weather circumstances, 12 to 13 weeks to complete.
Block 1 is focused on basic flight training, block 2 on IFR flights and block 3 on performing flying circuits including the students solo flight. EMVO has three training areas available to conduct its training. Area 1 and 1A are located over Woensdrecht and its CTR. Area 2 is the military training area designated TMA-D (Breda – Dordrecht - Drunen – Belgian border back to Breda). Area 3 is located over Walcheren, the peninsula in the west of the Dutch province of Zeeland. This area is part of the Schiphol FIR.

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