The US Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) has performed the first flight test of ASTARS III, a C-26A Metroliner equipped with military equipment and subsystems to suit the USNTPS curriculum. ASTARS III stands for Airborne Systems Training and Research Support and allows students to train for all systems flight test events.
A custom-tailored simulation lab was also built in conjunction with the aircraft to have matching crew stations. This way, students can familiarize themselves with the aircraft and its systems before actually taking to the skies, thus being able to make their flight time spent with instructors in the air more productive.
“ASTARS III is a game-changing capability that further advances the modernized syllabus offered at the US Naval Test Pilot School,” said Cdr. Glenn Rioux, commanding officer of the USNTPS. “The USNTPS is excited for this milestone as it adds greater capability to our historically competitive curriculum.”
The aircraft itself is a C-26A that was given to the USNTPS by the US government in 2015, after it was retired from counter-narcotics missions along the Mexican border. The aircraft arrived with minimal documentation and maintenance records and therefore required extensive work in order to meet FAA standards and the school’s flying classroom requirements for future curricula.