Despite the pandemic challenges of the last 12 months, December saw a successful close to the 2021 ETPS (Empire Test Pilots' School) course programme with over 90 students from around the globe graduating from long and short courses throughout the year, following a period of significant investment in ETPS infrastructure.
Image courtesy QinetiQ
Such a strong performance follows multi-year investment of £69 million since 2017 in ETPS facilities as part of QinetiQ’s Long Term Partnering Agreement (LTPA) with the Ministry of Defence. The Test Aircrew Training modernisation programme has significantly improved the operational capacity and service capabilities for customers and ensured the training school remains at the forefront of flight test training.
“Our objective is always to develop the skills and expertise of talented pilots, engineers and aircrew to safely deliver significant strategic advantage and real commercial value to their current and future organisations,” commented ETPS Commanding Officer Steve Moseley, Royal Navy. “Despite the disruption of a global pandemic, we were delighted our student cohort of 2021 were able to complete their courses, using our unique digital learning management system and state-of-the-art aircraft fleet, to graduate with fixed wing, rotary wing and engineer qualifications.”
Also 2022 is looking even stronger for ETPS – the world’s longest-established flight test training school. A new contract with the Republic of Singapore Air Force (RSAF) is the latest contract to be secured by ETPS and follows another year of sustained investment in new systems-rich aircraft and new training initiatives, with eleven different nationalities already confirmed for the 2022 training courses at the school.
“We’re delighted that students from so many different countries will be reaping the benefits of our substantial investment in new facilities, flying assets and teaching systems through 2022,” said Col Rae, Head of Training at ETPS. “Demand for our courses from overseas Governments is continuing to increase which is adding further value to the ETPS training experience. The diversity of the 2022 cohort, for example, enables students to learn from and capitalise on each other’s experiences within a dynamic and inspirational learning environment. It also provides a clear demonstration of the school’s global stature and our commitment to maximise return on investment for our shareholders.”
The RSAF is one of many overseas customers that benefit from the extensive range of training courses delivered by ETPS to optimise the operational effectiveness of aircraft and flight test programmes for both military and civilian customers. The new contract is focussed on Class A Military Rotary Wing Test Pilot training, although the RSAF has previously also taken full advantage of the ETPS training courses for Flight Test Engineers since its first engagement with the school in 2015. ETPS contracts with overseas customers for delivery in 2022 includes students from Australia, Switzerland, the Netherlands, Turkey, Sweden, Finland, Germany and now Singapore, as well as RAF and Royal Navy students and exchange students from France and the USA.
The investment in ETPS has enabled the school to introduce new technologies and resources to ensure it continues to provide the capabilities and agility to meet increasingly diverse and complex training requirements for customers in both the military and civilian sectors. As well as the very latest Flight Test Instrumentation technologies and cutting-edge learning tools, the modern aircraft available for ETPS students features both large and small fixed wing aircraft as well as a fleet of rotary wing aircraft that includes the recent addition of three new helicopters. Such investments are providing talented pilots, engineers and aircrew with access to the most advanced and systems-rich resources of any test pilot school.
Delivered by QinetiQ and based at MoD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, ETPS offers an extensive range of modular courses for Test Pilots, Flight Test Engineers, Systems Test and Evaluator Aircrew covering experimental, development and systems testing. All of the fixed wing and rotary wing courses have been structured to provide flight test professionals with the skills and competencies required to safely and effectively conduct all forms of test flying, including civil certification and military release to service programmes. Every aircraft within the ETPS fleet has been extensively modified with the latest flight test instrumentation to create ‘flying classrooms’ that meet both military and civil requirements to provide students with the skills, insight and know-how to meet future career challenges with both confidence and assurance.