Advanced Airborne Technology Demonstrator extends capabilities at QinetiQ’s Aviation Engineering Centre


Delivering the agility, resources and expertise to support the constantly evolving needs of flight test professionals and to meet the growing demand for experimentation and effective test and evaluation of increasingly sophisticated aviation systems presents quite a challenge.  

Aircraft  in hangar

QinetiQ’s Aviation Engineering Centre at MOD Boscombe Down is continuing to rise to such challenges and is building a formidable track record in aircraft design, modification and testing for the MOD, other government agencies and equipment manufacturers. One of the most recent developments has resulted in confirmation of the initial operating capability of an ambitious and highly advanced Airborne Technology Demonstrator (ATD).

This market-leading new capability provides a highly flexible, adaptable and systems-rich resource for use as a flying classroom by flight test professionals and for airborne test and evaluation exercises for the MOD, collaborative technology partnerships and OEMs. Using an innovative design concept and based on an RJ100 airliner airframe, the ATD provides power and data backbones and flexible workstations to enable research and development projects to be quickly and easily integrated onto the platform.

The design and modification of the aircraft was classed as a Major modification by the CAA. The qualification of the QinetiQ Design Organisation as a provider of such modifications adds to its growing portfolio of successful design, production and flight test projects delivered under civil regulatory approvals. Despite the challenges presented by the global pandemic, the aircraft was modified at pace and flew for the first time in November 2020. Since then, the aircraft has completed shakedown and calibration flying, and full approval from the CAA is anticipated by the end of 2021.

“The successful development of the Airborne Technology Demonstrator represents a major milestone in the continuing growth of the Aviation Engineering Centre at MOD Boscombe Down,” says Simon Tate, Director of Operations Air and Space at QinetiQ. “This new capability is also helping us to establish and consolidate collaborative partnerships with major organisations across the aviation sector as well as the research and development teams at a growing list of specialist manufacturers. The upgrade development programme for the RAF’s Typhoon combat aircraft, for example, is expected to benefit from the ATD as a result of our effective partnership with BAE Systems. I have no doubt this exciting new capability will also act as an enabler in new collaborative ventures and partnerships with a growing list of customers, not only here in Europe but also around the world.”