Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) is a training
establishment based at MOD Boscombe Down in Wiltshire, England.ETPS is run as a partnership between the UK
MOD and defence contractor
QinetiQ, under a long term partnering
Air Marshal Sir Ralph Sorley, who had
been concerned at the high rate of fatalities during testing of new
aircraft, formed the "Test Pilots Training Flight" at Boscombe Down.
In 1943 the first training course was held,
finishing in early 1944. The scheme was a success, and the training
flight soon became an institution in its own right - the ETPS. In
1963 the course diversified into the teaching of rotary wing
testing, followed by a course aimed at flight test engineers rather
than pilots in 1974.
In 2001, ETPS was included with those research departments sold off
by the Government to Carlyle Group during the formation of QinetiQ.
It is now run as a partnership between QinetiQ and the UK
Test Pilots' School was the first of its kind, and was followed by
other similar schools, such as EPNER in
France (École du Personnel Navigant d'Essais et de
Réception), The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School in
Maryland, and the
Air Force Test Pilot School
at Edwards Air
Force Base, California.
Some of these schools operate an exchange
programme, which expands the variety of aircraft the students have
available to them for gaining flight test experience.
The ETPS uses the following types of aircraft:
In memory of the second Commandant of the School, Group Captain
J.F.X. McKenna, A.F.C, who was killed in a flying accident while
serving in that post, the school awards the McKenna Trophy annually
to the best fixed wing
- Group Captain McKenna was killed on January 19, 1945 flying a
when an ammunition box cover detached at high speed, causing
structural failure of a wing. The aircraft crashed on the perimeter
of Old Sarum
- http://www.davidsiddall.com/testflyingmemorial/1939-45.htm Test
Flying Memorial site of British test pilots and engineers who died
in flying accidents (1939-1945 page).