Bengalore : ElevenTest Pilots and Two Flight Test Engineers of the 42nd Flight Test Course graduated from the Air Force Test Pilots School (AFTPS) in Bangalore on Friday after burning the midnight oil for 48 weeks as part of a rigorous and multi-discipline training curriculum. AFTPS is integral to the Aircraft and Systems Testing Establishment (ASTE), one of the premier units of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command, was the Chief Guest at the graduation ceremony and he presented certificates to all graduating officers and trophies to graduates who excelled. He congratulated the graduating officers for their hard work and proud achievement. Speaking on the occasion the Chief Guest reminded the graduating officers that they would play a crucial role in the capability building and modernization of the Indian Armed Forces. Despite resource constraints, it was incumbent on the test crew to continually strive to ensure that the developmental and testing cycle time was reduced without compromising on safety and quality. He emphasised on the need to be committed to ensure that the systems cleared for induction met the operational requirements so that they were inducted within the shortest possible time with optimum utilization of resources. He highlighted the fact that our country could witness a major manufacturing boost as a consequence of the ‘Make in India,’ campaign. Test crew with their specialist training and experience would play a crucial role in fructifying and sustaining such an endeavour. He urged the graduating officers to uphold the virtues of honesty and integrity along with the professional attributes of Precision and Excellence as they stepped out into the real world from the relative comforts of an academic environment.
The passing out officers will join the prestigious and elite club of “the few and the proud” comprising 297 Test Pilots and 135 Flight Test Engineers that have passed out from AFTPS since its inception in 1973.
The prestigious “Suranjan Das Trophy” for the best all-round student test pilot was awarded to Squadron Leader Dipankar Das while the “Chief of Air Staff Trophy” for the best student test pilot in Flight Evaluation was awarded to Squadron Leader V Logesh. The “Kapil Bhargava Trophy” for the best student in ground subjects was awarded to Squadron Leader Sumit Kumar.
AFTPS features amongst the handful of Test Pilot Schools in the world that produce Test Pilots and Flight Test Engineers who subsequently distinguish themselves in various Test Programs. For instance, indigenous aircraft such as Light Combat Aircraft, Advanced Light Helicopter of Hindutan Aeronautics Limited, and Airborne Early Warning & Control of Defence Research and Development Organisation were first flown by test crew trained here. The first Indian in space, Wing Commander Rakesh Sharma Ashok Chakra (Retired), is an alumnus of AFTPS as well. More recently, four Test pilots, all alumni of AFTPS, were selected to undergo training in Russia for our indigenous Gaganyaan program. Till date 297 Test Pilots and 135 Flight Test Engineers have graduated from this prestigious institute.
Photo 1: Air Vice Marshal SK Mohlah, Commandant, ASTE receiving Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command .
Photo 2: Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command laying wreath at ASTE War Memorial
Photo 3: Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command presenting Suranjan Das Trophy to Squadron Leader Dipankar Das at Air Force Test Pilot School.
Photo 4: Air Vice Marshal SK Mohlah, Commandant, ASTE giving ASTE memento to Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command at ASTE.
Photo 5: Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command addressing the gathering at Air Force Test Pilot School at ASTE.
Photo 6: Air Marshal AS Butola, Air Officer Commanding in Chief, Training Command and Air Vice Marshal SK Mohlah, Commandant, ASTE with trophy winners at Air Force Test Pilot School at ASTE.