NAVAL AIR WARFARE CENTER AIRCRAFT DIVISION, Patuxent River, Md.– The United States Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) expanded its educational offerings by graduating a group of civilian engineers from its inaugural Advanced Flying Qualities Intermediate Course during a ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, May 20.

“As a Class 97 graduate, I cannot overstate the knowledge, skill, and intuition engineers take away from their time at USNTPS,” said Steve Cricchi, executive director at the Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division (NAWCAD). “This course is an incredible opportunity for our civilians advancing naval aviation.”

Students and instructors of the U.S. Naval Test Pilot School’s (USNTPS) inaugural Advanced Flying Qualities Intermediate Course are pictured in front of the school’s hangar before graduating during a ceremony at Naval Air Station Patuxent River, May 20, 2022. The new curriculum expands USNTPS’ educational offerings for civilians across the Department of Defense. Credit: Kaitlin Wicker / U.S. Navy

The eight-week course consists of 140 hours of academic instruction, eight hours of simulator time, and six flight events for each student. Special topics include reversible control systems, advanced flight control system evaluation, aircraft system identification methods, and compressibility effects.

“I’m proud of our team and the product they’ve created,” said Cmdr. Jeremy DeBons, USNTPS commanding officer. “We seek innovative ways to better serve our customers and meet the demand signal; this course provides a great educational experience for civilian engineers who may otherwise not have the opportunity to attend our school.”

Instruction in the simulator provides a learning environment for students to gain practical experience with mission maneuvers, test techniques, and data analysis. The flight events provide basic exposure to the flight environment, detailed investigation of stability concepts and aircraft dynamic modes, etc. The classroom lectures focus on the fundamental theory of airplane stability and control and the specific test methods used to measure and analyze aircraft flying qualities.

USNTPS developed the course in response to naval aviation’s evolving needs. It serves as an additional option for Department of Defense civilians seeking a test and evaluation curriculum more in-depth than the school’s traditional two-week short course and more affordable than its full 11-month syllabus.

The inaugural cohort of 11 students represented NAWCAD’s Air Vehicle Aeromechanics Engineering Division, Naval Test Wing Atlantic’s Air Vehicle Test and Evaluation Division, the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command’s Technology Development Directorate, and USNTPS.

The additional offering provides the civilian workforce flexibility in both cost and schedule in alignment with the Chief of Naval Operations’ initiative to “get real and get better” and NAVAIR’s focus on developing its workforce. The school is developing other modules of the Intermediate Course based on customer requirements.

USNTPS trains all branches of U.S. military service and multinational pilots and engineers to develop, test, and evaluate aircraft. USNTPS is a component of Naval Test Wing Atlantic, a test wing under Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division in Patuxent River, Maryland. NAWCAD advances capability and operational readiness for naval aviation and our warfighters.

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