SOURCE: Bangalore Mirror
Eleven Test Pilots and two Flight Test Engineers of the 42nd Flight Test Course graduated from the Air Force Test Pilots School (AFTPS) in Bengaluru on Friday, after completing 48 weeks of a rigorous and multi-discipline training curriculum.
AFTPS is integral to the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), one of the premier units of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Speaking on the occasion, Chief Guest Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command, told the graduating officers that they would play a crucial role in capability building and modernization of the Indian Armed Forces (IAF). Despite resource constraints, it was incumbent on the test crew to continually strive to ensure that the developmental and testing cycle time was reduced without compromising on safety and quality.
He emphasised on the need to be committed to ensure that the systems cleared for induction met the operational requirements so that they were inducted within the shortest possible time, with optimum utilization of resources. He highlighted that India could witness a major manufacturing boost, as a consequence of the ‘Make in India’ campaign. The test crew, with their specialist training and experience, would play a crucial role in fructifying and sustaining such an endeavour. He urged the graduating officers to uphold the virtues of honesty and integrity along with professional attributes of precision and excellence as they stepped out into the real world from the relative comforts of an academic environment.
The passing-out officers will join the prestigious and elite club of ‘the few and the proud’, comprising 297 Test Pilots and 135 Flight Test Engineers that have passed out from AFTPS since its inception in 1973.
The prestigious Suranjan Das Trophy for the best all-round student test pilot was awarded to Squadron Leader Dipankar Das, while the Chief of Air Staff Trophy for the best student test pilot in flight evaluation was awarded to Squadron Leader V Logesh. The Kapil Bhargava Trophy for the best student in ground subjects was awarded to Squadron Leader Sumit Kumar.
AFTPS features among the handful of test pilot schools in the world that produce Test Pilots and Flight Test Engineers who subsequently distinguish themselves in various Test Programmes. For instance, indigenous aircraft such as Light Combat Aircraft, Advanced Light Helicopter of Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, and Airborne Early Warning & Control of Defence Research and Development Organisation were first flown by the test crew trained here.
The first Indian in space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma Ashok Chakra (Retired), is an alumnus of AFTPS as well. Recently, four Test Pilots, all alumni of AFTPS, were selected to undergo training in Russia for the Gaganyaan programme. Till date, 297 Test Pilots and 135 Flight Test Engineers have graduated from this institute.