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Rotary Wing - Test Pilot - Class A EASA Cat 1 Compliant

This one-year course qualifies pilots to EASA Category 1 (CAT 1) flight test rating. You’ll gain the philosophy and skills to undertake any form of research and development test flying – including experimental and ‘envelope expansion’ testing – from pure research to complete military release or civil certification programmes.


Our courses teach experienced pilots to deliver safe, efficient and effective flight test programmes. The focus is on practical flying experience, and developing skills in the analysis and presentation of flight test results. You’ll also build the technical and interpersonal capabilities necessary to excel in a multi-disciplined team environment.

Learning in small mixed pilot and engineer syndicates led by a tutor, students undertake exercises structured to replicate real-world flight test programmes. The tutor will encourage your development as a fully contributing team player, while nurturing the leadership skills vital to performing pivotal roles in complex programmes.

Rotary wing Class A test pilot students achieve around 109 flying hours, captaining three types of aircraft and conducting evaluation flights on around 13 types – including the Gazelle, A109, Sea King and variable stability aircraft.

Find out more about the fleet

Course Overview

The course is divided into three main topics: performance, handling qualities and systems.

Ground school: Training begins with an intensive period of instruction to ensure all students have a sound theoretical background to flight test.

Flying exercises: Following a demonstration flight with a tutor, students plan and conduct their own test flights. You’ll present the results of your evaluations in a number of different formats, including verbal debriefs and written reports.

Team working: You’ll work on exercises with pilots and engineers from a wide variety of nationalities and backgrounds, learning together in mixed syndicates.

Wider aviation experience: Our students visit aircraft industry and experimental establishments in the UK and overseas, and attend conferences, airshows and lectures.

Preview exercise: The course culminates in the assessment of an aircraft on which you have no previous experience, normally at an overseas test centre or manufacturer's airfield. After evaluation you’ll present a full report to an international audience of test personnel.

Students will normally arrive in the UK in December to deal with the necessary administration, ready to start the course in early January. The course will complete in mid-December.

Entry Standards

Our courses are open to pilots from the UK and overseas who are sponsored by their service or employer to undertake the training. ETPS may seek evidence of your experience and qualifications to ensure suitability and, where necessary, make specific recommendations for pre-course preparation.

To be accepted for the rotary wing Class A test pilot course you’ll need:

  • More than 750 operational flying hours as First Pilot
  • High average to above average flying abilities
  • A high level of academic ability in mathematics, mechanics, aerodynamics and aero-systems
  • Medical fitness for all forms of flying
  • A strong command of aviation and technical English – both written and spoken.

Find out how to apply

Related Courses

Class B

Rotary Wing Test Pilot Class B

This is a six-month course that qualifies pilots to EASA Category 2 (CAT2) flight test rating.

Bridging Course

Rotary Wing Test Pilot Bridging Course

This course is for test pilots who have graduated from our Class B course to upgrade their qualification to a CAT 1 flight test rating.

Rotary Wing - Test Pilot - Class A EASA Cat 1 Compliant