QinetiQ is to buy four Airbus H125 helicopters to continue the re-equipment of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS), which it manages alongside the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD).
The ETPS will use the H125s to train civil and military test pilots and flight test engineers at its base at MOD Boscombe Down, Wiltshire.
As well as the four aircraft, the deal with Airbus Helicopters includes specific airframe modifications for the role and ten years of support.
Worth approximately £15m, the deal will provide the H125s with a three-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and traffic awareness systems. As well as the existing Garmin G500 equipment, the aircraft will receive a Flight Test Instrumentation suite, to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance during test pilot and flight test engineer training.
The aircraft are expected to enter service in early 2019.
Last December QinetiQ finalised a £1bn deal with the MOD under which the company will modernise the UK’s test aircrew training and air range capabilities.
Earlier this year, Pilatus Aircraft announced signature of a contract to provide two PC-21 turboprop trainers to QinetiQ. These aircraft will also be operated by the ETPS, and will feature modified flight instruments to train test pilots and flight test engineers.