QinetiQ has signed a deal for four Airbus H125 helicopters as part of its modernisation of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS), which it manages alongside the U.K.’s Ministry of Defence (MOD).
Worth approximately £15 million, the deal will see Airbus Helicopters’ U.K. design team upgrade the Garmin G500-equipped aircraft with, among other capabilities, a three-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and Traffic Awareness Systems.
This is in addition to a Flight Test Instrumentation suite, which is used to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance as part of the test pilot or flight test engineer training programme.
The contract includes aircraft modification and 10 years’ full HCare support package helping to deliver full availability. The aircraft are expected to enter service in early 2019.
The acquisition of the H125s is part of QinetiQ’s £1bn deal with the MOD, signed in December 2016, to modernise the UK’s test aircrew training and air range capabilities. As part of the agreement, QinetiQ is investing £85m in ETPS to reduce operating costs, enhance capabilities and drive future growth. This includes the purchase of eight new aircraft to comprehensively update and future-proof the fleet that delivers training.
In related news, ETPS was recently recognised by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an Approved Training Organisation (ATO), certified to train test pilots to civil standards. The accreditation means ETPS is one of three schools in the world, and the first in the U.K., able to provide test pilots with course completion certificates needed to obtain civil Flight Test Ratings in compliance with new EASA regulations.