QinetiQ runs The Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, on behalf of the UK MOD, and is proud of the heritage attached to the site. Flight test training can be traced as far back as the infancy of military flight. In 1943, Air Marshal Sir Ralph Sorley, the controller of R&D in the UK, became increasingly concerned by the rising number of fatalities in test flying and a lack of standardisation of flying techniques. As a consequence, the Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) at Boscombe Down, Wiltshire, was formed to train test pilots in the art of experimental flight. It was one of a series of RAF 'Empire Schools', including the Empire Central Flying School, Empire Air Navigation School, Empire Air Armament School and Empire Radio School, ETPS is the only one still active.
European Space Agency (ESA) Astronaut, Major Tim Peake graduated from ETPS in 2005 and was awarded the Westland’s trophy for best rotary wing student. He is the first British Citizen to be selected as an astronaut by ESA.
Over the years, QinetiQ's ETPS has set a world-class standard, which others strive to emulate. Former graduates have formed the nucleus of three similar schools set up elsewhere – two in the US and one in France. Cooperation between these establishments continues today, with the constant aim of improving standards within the flight test profession.