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Effective UAS Flight Test Training

June 21, 2024

Some years ago, Giorgio Clementi expressed the opinion to the EASA ATO audit team that the increasing complexity and size of UAS, both civil and military, warranted specific flight test training for UAS Flight Test Crews. Military customers opted to have a UAS module as part of the 48-week Masters/Graduate Test Pilot and Flight Test Engineer courses. Industry requirements and budgets demanded a more focused and cost-effective solution. Accordingly, ITPS designed a 24-week program compliant with EASA CAT-2 flight test training requirements, making extensive use of our Manned Remotely Piloted Aircraft (MRPA) and select other types.

Kudos to Turkish Aerospace for investing in its UAS flight test teams, despite employing experienced UAS flight testers, some of whom had recently conducted the first flight of the Anka III UCAV! Our challenge at ITPS was to provide an effective and useful training programme to these highly experienced individuals.

We were successful! Following the tried and trusted test pilot school approach; thorough academic foundation, test techniques instruction, instruction in test planning, risk management, data analysis and report writing, exposure to multiple types and multiple systems, mission-related test exercises of increasing complexity to bring it all together. In the words of Dinçer Doğukan Göle, TAI UAS CTP, the training provided:

  1. Enhanced Technical Proficiency:
    Exposure to manned aircraft and helicopters enabled us to gain hands-on experience with different flight dynamics and control systems. This broadened technical proficiency was invaluable when troubleshooting UAS issues.
  2. Improved Flight Safety Awareness:
    Flying manned aircraft emphasized the importance of strict safety protocols and risk management. As UAS pilots and flight test engineers, we also learned to apply these safety practices rigorously, thus reducing the risk of accidents and improving overall mission safety.
  3. Cross-platform expertise:
    Allowed us for better integration of UAS’s in complex, multi-platform operations.
  4. Advanced Test Techniques:
    The training provided advanced test techniques used in manned aviation, such as performance testing, handling qualities evaluation, and system integration testing. These techniques were directly transferable to UAS testing, leading to more thorough and precise evaluations.
  5. Professional Growth and Credibility:
    Completing a rigorous training program significantly boosted the professional growth and credibility of UAS test pilots and FTEs. It demonstrated our commitment to excellence and positioned us as highly skilled professionals within the aviation community.Mission accomplished! Congratulations TAI graduates, wishing you all continued success. Well done ITPS instructors, particularly Henry Language and Gustavo Ulloa for presenting an excellent and innovative program!