Thursday, October 06, 2016

This flight test centre ensures IAF gets its right fit

What is common to the Indian Air Force's recently acquired assets, namely, the French Rafale medium fighter, the US-origin C-17 transport aircraft, and the small Swiss-made Pilatus P-7 pilot trainer?

They were all flown, evaluated and green-signalled as fit for the IAF - as also their co-contenders - by one of its important arms operating quietly right in aviation hub Bengaluru.

Should there be a war across the border, they will be part of it, either on the battlefield or in technically keeping the aircraft flying fit.

Aircraft and Systems Test Establishment (ASTE) has also trained around 500 men to become test pilots - those who risk their lives to check out raw aircraft or systems on it that are still being perfected. A few of their fraternity have lost lives in the process.

ASTE, which has been functioning in the city in this name since 1973, was actually born in Kanpur in 1959. It has the country’s only test pilot training school producing about 25 of the precious air men every year.

There are only five such others in the world that totally bring out 100-odd test pilots each year, says its Commandant, Air Vice-Marshal Sandeep Singh, who is an experienced test pilot for the IAF's Sukhoi-30 MkI fighters.
05/10/16 The Hindu
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