RAF chief visits test pilot training school


The head of the UK’s RAF, Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier, has visited the recently-refurbished Empire Test Pilot School in the UK and praised the successful transformation of the test pilot and engineer training facilities it offers.

The Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) and the operator of the school, QinetiQ, started a modernization program in 2015 to introduce the latest teaching methodologies and technologies to support the next generation of aircraft, such as the F-35.

ETPS is a military and commercial training school accredited by the European Aviation Safety Agency Approved Training Organisation.

Visiting the school to tour the upgraded classrooms, the new aircraft fleet and to view the digital learning management system, Air Chief Marshal Hillier said, “Through our partnership with QinetiQ, ETPS is now ready for the future and the next generation of air capability. Relevant, affordable, world-class and at the cutting edge of test and evaluation training.”

The school trained world speed record holders in the 1950s and future Apollo astronauts in the 1960s. Students now learn in the same environment that they will work in after graduation, with training conducted in real and synthetic systems.

Other courses have been developed to support customer demands. For example, ETPS now trains evaluator aircrew as well as test pilots – meaning that more students than ever are being prepared for their critical roles in assuring capability.

Steve Wadey, CEO of QinetiQ, said, “We have come a long way in the last four years and Sir Stephen was delighted with the investment, innovation, new ways of working, and collaboration that are now delivering significant value for our customers and our students.

“The changes and investment are great examples of our strategy in action, helping to modernize test and evaluation. I would like to thank Sir Stephen for his foresight in setting us the challenge to radically change ETPS and trusting us to deliver.”

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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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