The International Test Pilots School (ITPS) Conducts the First Flight of 5th gen. Surrogate Training Aircraft (5STA)

Date: Issue 126 - October 2023

The high operating costs of 5th generation fighters have many current and prospective operators looking at ways to cut the number of training flight hours on these assets and transfer them to Surrogate Training Aircraft, aircraft with much lower operating cost, but a useful performance envelope and featuring avionics representative of those to be found in the latest generation fighters.  Facing a similar challenge in training the test pilots of the future, the International Test Pilots School (ITPS) started development three years ago of the 5th Generation Surrogate Training Aircraft (5STA). This unique training asset is a Hawker Hunter, featuring a 5th Gen Human Machine Interface (HMI), Helmet Mounted Display (HMD) and Live Virtual Constructive Training (LVCT) via data link. The aircraft will be employed at the school on fundamental avionics testing exercises but also on a new series of exercises evaluating workload and system mission suitability during representative missions. The transonic jet trainer will also be employed for Performance and Flying Qualities testing exercises. 5STA makes ITPS the first test pilot school to offer its students this novel capability based on Commercial Off the Shelf (COTS) hardware and software and, therefore accessible to all customers.

Giorgio Clementi, the concept originator, Chief Engineer and Head of Flight Test for ITPS, commented that “Meticulous planning and flawless execution led to success! Congratulations to the team on the first flight of our 5th Gen Surrogate Training Aircraft (5STA). It has been a long road with many hurdles, but the ITPS team kept the faith, and it has borne fruit. Over the coming months, we will develop it to its full capabilities! Well done, team! We can justifiably be proud of this achievement!”.