First student takes solo flight from modernised pilots’ school

On Tuesday 26 March Flt Lt Ed Eldred made the first solo flight as a student from the recently modernised Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS).

Two pilots shaking hands with ETPS aircraft in the background

An important milestone for any test pilot, this also heralded the culmination of the successful Test Aircrew Training modernisation programme undertaken by QinetiQ.

Following significant recent investment to stay ahead of modern test aircrew training demands, ETPS now provides modular courses that are flexible, adaptable, and cost effective, and that deliver for both military and commercial training needs.

ETPS, traditionally a military school, is now also a European Union Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) Approved Training Organisation, leading the field in flight test training for both military and civilian customers. The new modular delivery model includes long and short courses to meet customers’ individual needs. It focuses on student-centred learning and coaching, underpinned by modern education technologies that use completely modernised aircraft.

ETPS Commanding Officer Cdr Stuart Irwin RN, said:

“Flt Lt Ed Eldred (RAF C130J pilot) became the first ETPS student to make a solo sortie under the new model. He enjoyed 45 minutes airborne in glorious weather around Boscombe Down, in an aircraft which represents a huge capability leap for us, and that has been serviceable for every sortie for which it’s been programmed. Although just another type in Ed’s logbook, it represents an important milestone on ETPS’ transformation journey, and is the fruit of much hard work by the Air Warfare Centre (AWC) and QinetiQ team.”

Pilot in ETPS aircraft pre take off

QinetiQ operated ETPS, the world’s first test pilot school, has trained flight test professionals from 32 countries over 75 years. Our investment in modern courses and aircraft has resulted in a UK MOD commitment to ETPS as its training provider for the next 10 years, and has enabled an agreement to train Royal Netherlands Air Force personnel for the next five years.

The success of the new-model ETPS is part of QinetiQ’s wider strategy to modernise the UK’s training and test and evaluation capabilities through a long-term programme of investment and innovation. We continue to work alongside customers to ensure their people and systems are mission-ready while achieving the best possible value for money.