During 2021, Leonardo's flight operations team in Yeovil flew more than 870 hours across several different types of helicopters. The 585 flights included sorties on the AW159, AW149 Common Platform Demonstrator, Super Lynx and AW101, with the aircrew accruing over 70 hours in the AW149 during 53 sorties.
The growth of the team was marked recently, when two Leonardo trainee Flight Test Engineers (FTE) in Yeovil – Josh Sleeman and Ben Standen – completed the first phase in qualifying as professional aircrew, with will ultimately see them being approved UK MOD MAA (Military Aviation Authority) and EASA (EU Aviation Safety Agency) lead FTEs. This first phase of training followed a similar path to other UK MOD Flying Training System Non-Pilot Aircrew courses.
The syllabus included basic airmanship, aircrew skills, human factors and aircraft familiarisation courses delivered in a modular format, whilst concurrently their building postproduction flight test experience via mentored coaching.
Josh and Ben's training culminated in the award of a Certificate of Qualification on Type AW101 FTE (Cabin). Both are now progressing through to Phase 2, which will include qualification to operate as an FTE in the cockpit of the AW101, and then in the cabin and cockpit of other Leonardo helicopters.
“Being a Flight Test Engineer at Leonardo in Yeovil is great," says Josh. "I enjoy the prospect of coming to work each day and testing various state-of-the-art military aircraft, which provides a varied and interesting job. Training as a Flight Test Engineer through modular courses and mentored on the job training has offered a challenging yet rewarding environment, and has allowed me to develop as a professional. I am excited about my future prospects as an FTE at the company, which I am sure will provide me with a good career and allow me to continue to work on the latest rotary wing technologies and innovations.”
“Having completed the first stage of my training as a Flight Test Engineer at Leonardo in Yeovil, I am excited about the opportunities this career will provide, applying my technical skills and passion for aviation, at the forefront of rotary wing innovation in the UK,” adds Ben.
Leonardo’s FTE training programme is seen as industry-leading by the UK MOD MAA and is the result of significant hard work and enterprise by the Somerset company’s Instructor Lead, Test Pilot Rob Dowdell, FTE Team Lead, Richard Parkes, and FTE/Aircrew Instructor, Andrew ‘Jumper’ Collins.