International Pilots’ Day 2024: Enduring commitment to flight test excellence

At premier test pilot training school, ETPS, our pilots play an integral role in ensuring ETPS maintains its standing and continues to evolve as a school for the future of test pilot training. The calibre of these pilots is a testament to our highly experienced and skilled flight test pilot instructors, who are the bedrock behind the school’s success. 

What is the role of a flight test pilot instructor?

ETPS’s flight test pilot instructors’ commitment to the delivery of exceptional training is enduring. Teaching and preparing the next generation of aspiring flight test professionals, our tutors bring together expertise in flying, engineering and instruction to help pilots test new aircraft effectively, evaluate performance and troubleshoot issues.

Our instructors play a crucial role in training student test pilots in how to conduct flight tests of new aircraft, systems or modifications. Students are taught advanced flying techniques, how to evaluate performance, and ensure safety protocols are followed during flights. Instructors also offer expert guidance in how to interpret data to improve aircraft performance and safety.

"Flying isn't just about the destination; it's about the journey, the data, and the discoveries that make aviation safer and more advanced with each test flight". Chris Gotke, ETPS Fixed Wing Commander.

“ETPS is an incredible opportunity to experience a variety of aircraft and learn to objectively test in order to improve aviation safety and increase capability. Every day is a learning experience! ". Neil Philp, ETPS Flight Test Pilot Instructor, Fixed Wing.

Test pilots at the forefront of aviation innovation 

Working closely with other flight test colleagues, such as flight test engineers, our pilots provide invaluable feedback to help ensure that not only do new aircraft meet new requirements and standards but also help to identify and resolve any issues before an aircraft is introduced. 

Flight test pilots also play a key role in pushing the boundaries of technology in aviation, in certification, development and improvement of aircraft. Their expertise and experience is a major contributor to advancements in the industry, which is helping to shape the future of aviation innovation.  

"In flight test, every event represents a unique opportunity to ensure the safety and effectiveness in role of the air system in question. A successful test campaign ensures that new, novel and different concepts are tested and introduced in the safest manner possible. Ultimately, the aim is that the end user gets the solution to the requirement they were originally looking for". Chris Phyo, ETPS Short Course Team Lead.

Thanks to the world class instruction received at ETPS, many graduates of the school have been at the forefront of numerous ground-breaking advancements, ranging from pushing the boundaries of supersonic flight to the assessment of complex integrated sensors and weapon systems. Our test pilot instructors are a crucial element of a wider collaborative endeavour of engineers and other aviation professionals, helping to enhance the learning experience of students and mirroring real-world collaboration that drives progress in future aviation capabilities. 

Our test pilot graduates go on to be not just flight testers in their own right, but the eyes and ears in aircraft and systems design and development, providing timely and trusted advice to military commanders, procurement teams, and equipment manufacturers.

Meeting defence needs of the future

In 1943, ETPS became the world’s first school dedicated to teaching test flying. Equipping the best pilots, engineers and aircrew with the specialist techniques and skills needed to run effective military and civilian flight test programmes, we’re proud to have trained over 1600 students from across 33 nations since the school was established in 1943.

With the aviation sector ever-evolving, the future of flight test involves more automation, advanced simulation technologies, and increased use of uncrewed systems. Virtual testing and AI-driven simulations will play a significant role in reducing costs and risks associated with physical testing. In addition, there is likely an increased emphasis on testing for emerging technologies such as electric propulsion, urban air mobility and hypersonic flight. 

With this in mind, the role of flight test pilots remains integral, but instead developing to include a greater focus on overseeing and validating increasingly automated systems, as well as emerging technologies and aircraft designs. As the industry evolves, our pilots will continue to play a crucial role in ensuring safety standards are maintained, adapting where necessary to operate uncrewed systems whilst working closely with engineering and AI systems. All of this will be achieved in adherence to the basic principles which were relevant when ETPS was formed back in 1943.

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For further information, please contact:
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