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Chief of the Air Staff visit highlights powerful new capability delivered by the Empire Test Pilot School


Last week, the Empire Test Pilot School (ETPS) welcomed back Air Chief Marshal Sir Stephen Hillier to MOD Boscombe Down for a tour of the new facilities and to celebrate the successful transformation of test pilot and engineer training.

Chief of Air Staff visit

In 2015, QinetiQ and ETPS were challenged by Sir Stephen Hillier to innovate and change the way courses were delivered and find ways to modernise, maintain relevance and reduce cost. That challenge has led to significant investment, innovation and new ways of working that ensure the ETPS training offer is pertinent to customers’ demands now, introduces the latest teaching methodologies and supports the next generation of aircraft, such as the F-35.

Just four years after that significant challenge was set, Sir Stephen returned to see just how much has been achieved. The visit included tours of the new facilities, upgraded classrooms, and state-of-the-art aircraft fleet, and a demonstration of the unique digital Learning Management System

Following the visit Sir Stephen stated, “I was delighted to attend the formal opening of the transformed Empire Test Pilot School. Through our partnership with QinetiQ, ETPS is now ready for the future and the next generation of air capability. Relevant, affordable, world-class and at the cutting edge of Test & Evaluation training.”

The changes introduced at ETPS are the greatest in the school’s 75 year history. Having trained future world speed record holders in the 1950s and future Apollo astronauts in the 1960s, ETPS is now able to train new generations of students more effectively for their future roles. They now learn in the same environment that they will work in after graduation, with extensive training in the assessment of advanced, real and synthetic systems in a modern cockpit and learning environment. Other courses were also developed to support customer demands, for example, ETPS now trains Evaluator Aircrew as well as Test Pilots – meaning that more students than ever are being prepared for their critical roles in assuring capability.

Steve Wadey, CEO of QinetiQ, said, “We have come a long way in the last four years and Sir Stephen was delighted with the investment, innovation, new ways of working, and collaboration that are now delivering significant value for our customers and our students. The changes and investment are great examples of our strategy in action, helping to modernise test and evaluation. I would like to thank Sir Stephen for his foresight in setting us the challenge to radically change ETPS and trusting us to deliver.”

ETPS is now both a military and commercial school following its accreditation as a European Aviation Safety Agency Approved Training Organisation, and 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.