Empire Test Pilots’ School adds three helicopters to test fleet


The Empire Test Pilots’ School at Boscombe Down in the UK has added three helicopters to its fleet of aircraft available for flight test training.

Expected to achieve be operating by this summer, the new aircraft are two Agusta A109S Grand helicopters and a Leonardo AW139 helicopter fitted with an integrated Electro-Optical and Infra-Red (EO/IR) camera turret and a modern, complex avionics suite. All of the aircraft at Ministry of Defence (MOD) Boscombe Down site will also benefit from additional enhancements including comprehensive Flight Test Instrumentation suites.

The Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) was the world’s first test pilot school and has been providing flight test training for over 75 years. It is run by the UK’s MOD and aerospace and defence company QinetiQ.

The latest multi-million investment in the helicopters brings the amount invested in QinetiQ’s training, test and evaluation capabilities to over £100 million (US$140 million) over the past three years as part of a modernisation of its Test & Evaluation capabilities. Other recent acquisitions for the fleet include H125 helicopters in 2018 and two Pilatus PC-21 aircraft in 2017.

“The three new helicopters significantly extends the fleet of aircraft available to ETPS and trials customers and give talented pilots, engineers and aircrew access to the most advanced and systems-rich helicopters of any test pilot school,” said QinetiQ.

The new helicopters will be of value to customers from both the military and civil sectors, QinetiQ added.

“Staying ahead of the curve is absolutely vital in the challenging world of Test and Evaluation – both here in the UK and on the international stage. We are now also in a position to deliver a complete Test and Evaluation solution for customers by providing aircraft, design, production, installation, test and evaluation training, as well as ongoing flight operations for any Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission,” the company said in a statement.

All courses at ETPS comply with EASA regulations and is recognised as an EASA Approved Training Organisation.

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About Author


Ben has worked as a journalist and editor, covering technology, engineering and industry for the last 20 years. Initially writing about subjects from nuclear submarines to autonomous cars to future design and manufacturing technologies, he was editor of a leading UK-based engineering magazine before becoming editor of Aerospace Testing in 2017.

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