Wing Cdr Dave Best, OC ETPS, says the school has introduced training in civil certification programmes as many new aircraft, including the Lockheed Martin C-130J Hercules future tanker and ASTOR (based on the Bombardier Global Express business jet) are certificated to commercial rules.

ETPS has used some of Airbus' engineering simulators at Toulouse to teach fixed-wing test pilots and civil flight test course students Vmcg and Vmu techniques. BAE Systems' attack helicopter systems simulator is also used, says Best.

"We're deeply involved in civil aircraft certification," says EPNER director Lt Col Stephane Pichené. "This is unique, since our civil aviation authority has no flight test activities."

Synergy between civil and military flight test training "results in a more efficient organisation", adds Pichené. "We believe in a fully integrated approach. That means you get the best of both worlds."

"We have changed our approach to be more commercial", says Pichené. While EPNER is a French Government unit under the defence ministry, and therefore a non-profit organisation, it makes sense, he says, to pursue outside opportunities "to expand our knowledge base and to become more European in the way we operate".

A recent innovation at ETPS and EPNER has been the creation of the LiFTT (Leaders in Flight Test Training) group, which joins the two schools with Cranfield University in the UK, France's l'Institut Aéronautique et Spatiale and TU Delft, the Netherlands.

The move was partly prompted by an Embraer requirement to cater for rapid growth in the Brazilian manufacturer's test requirements as it expands its product range. Embraer will send 20 test pilots for training. Initially Embraer asked ETPS for help, but the UK establishment did not have the capacity to train 20 test pilots within the two years specified. EPNER agreed to share the workload. "It's the first time European centres have co-ordinated their flight test training," says EPNER deputy director Jacques Dumoulin. The universities provide modules, such as human factors and navigation systems.

The first course for five students was staged at Boscombe Down from January to July this year. A second course is now underway at EPNER and a third will begin in January at ETPS.

Source: Flight International