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QinetiQ’s Flight Test Revolution


Adrian Neve

As part of QinetiQ’s modernisation of Test Aircrew Training, the QinetiQ fleet of ageing - and sometimes difficult to support - military aircraft was replaced by a new fleet of modern civil registered aircraft. At the same time, QinetiQ’s design organisation was seeking civil Part 21 approval to add to the military approval QinetiQ have held for many years. This presented a new opportunity to evolve and ultimately revolutionise QinetiQ’s flight test offering, building on over 100 years of flight test experience.

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Today, QinetiQ’s flight test organisation has approval from the CAA to conduct all categories of flight test on fixed and rotary wing aircraft. This has given us the opportunity to expand our involvement in flight test for new and existing customers and to use a modern fleet of aircraft to deliver cost effective solutions. We have also looked at how we’ve historically done flight test and taken the best bits from our many years of experience and incorporated them into our new organisation.

The modernised flight test organisation is now able to deliver rapid and customer focused solutions to a range of flight test challenges and is contributing to QinetiQ’s wider Mission Led Innovation Strategy. QinetiQ’s approval to issue our own Permits to Fly, together with our impressive range of support and ground test facilities all contribute to our unique ‘One Stop Flight Test Shop’ capability.

Our modern fleet of aircraft includes both large and small fixed wing aircraft and helicopters, the majority of which are comprehensively instrumented and are available to support customer flight test as well as QinetiQ’s own aviation activities. Of particular significance for the development of radar, sensors and other systems is QinetiQ’s Airborne Technology Demonstrator (ATD). This modified RJ100 aircraft provides a modern ‘flying test bed’ environment that can be deployed worldwide as required.

Although QinetiQ is now active in delivering flight test of civil aircraft, our extensive flight test experience is rooted in military aircraft and we have been involved in the flight test of almost all UK military aircraft types since the first, British Army Aeroplane No. 1. We continue to be active in flight test of military aircraft and also novel use of a civil registered aircraft to support development of military capability. Examples of this include development of an air launched article on our DA-42 aircraft and Manned-Un-Manned Teaming (MUM-T) systems using our H-125 helicopter.

As our flight test revolution continues, we’re continuing to apply mission led innovation to new challenges such as military use of eVTOL aircraft and launch and recovery of UAVs from manned aircraft.