QinetiQ signed a deal for four Airbus H125 helicopters as part of its modernization of the Empire Test Pilots’ School (ETPS) it manages with the UK’s Ministry of Defence (MOD). The aircraft are expected to enter service in early 2019.

The approximately £15 million deal will see Airbus Helicopters’ UK design team upgrade the Garmin G500-equipped aircraft that features a 3-axis autopilot, dedicated communications equipment and Traffic Awareness Systems. It also has a Flight Test Instrumentation suite used to test and evaluate aircraft design and performance – a critical part of a test pilot or flight test engineer’s training.

The contract includes aircraft modification and a 10-year, full HCare support and service package.

John Anderson, Managing Director Air & Space, QinetiQ said: “We and the MOD are investing £85m in ETPS under our strategy to modernize the UK’s Test Aircrew Training capability. Assembling a fleet that provides the very best value and performance is vital to this strategy and the H125 will play a leading role.”

The acquisition of the H125s is part of QinetiQ’s £1 billion deal with the MOD, signed in December 2016, to modernize the UK’s test aircrew training and air range capabilities. As part of the agreement, QinetiQ is investing £85m in ETPS to reduce operating costs, enhance capabilities and drive future growth. This includes the purchase of eight new aircraft to comprehensively update and future-proof the fleet that delivers training.