The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) conducted its first flight of Airborne Systems Training and Research Support (ASTARS) III. ASTARS III is a customized C-26A Metroliner equipped with military equipment and subsystems. It’s also the third generation of a flying classroom supporting the USNTPS curriculum, which also has a simulation lab built in conjunction with the aircraft to have matching crew stations – so students can get familiar with the ASTARS aircraft and systems before flying it, increasing the efficiency of flight time spent with instructors in the air. USNTPS’ original ASTARS is a divested P-3; ASTARS II is a modified Saab 340.

The first flight validated the aircraft’s Naval subsystems before its addition to the USNTPS’ class 155 syllabus. Class 155 will be the first class using ASTARS III for all systems in flight-test events.

Cdr. Glenn Rioux, commanding officer of the USNTPS says the aircraft advances the syllabus offered at the school and adds greater capability to the curriculum.