The Empire Test Pilots' School (ETPS) has been recognised by the European Aviation Safety Agency (EASA) as an Approved Training Organisation (ATO), certified to train test pilots to civil standards.

The accreditation means ETPS is one of three schools in the world, and the first in the UK, able to provide test pilots with course completion certificates needed to obtain civil Flight Test Ratings in compliance with new EASA regulations.

Paul Shakespeare, Head of ETPS at QinetiQ, which manages the school in partnership with the UK Ministry of Defence (MOD), said: "All civilian test pilots in Europe, such as those working in-house for aircraft manufacturers or graduates seeking commercial work, must now receive training from an accredited school. Our ability to provide this vital training will be greatly welcomed by our existing customers, and will create growth opportunities in new international markets as companies and individuals react to the new EASA rules."

The accreditation supports the school's continuing modernisation programme, under which QinetiQ and the MOD are investing £85m to transform its courses and the air fleets used to deliver them. The programme is part of a £1bn contract, announced in Deceber 2016, which ensures QinetiQ will continue to manage ETPS until at least 2028.

Implementation of the modernisation programme began in January 2016 with the purchase of two Pilatus PC-21 fixed wing aircraft, destined to carry out duties currently performed by an ageing fleet that includes Hawks and Alpha Jets.