The complex world of test pilots



Bangalore: When Wing Commander K Praveen, Wing Commander Dipesh Shah and Squadron Leader Illayaraja set out for the 49 flight of Saras prototype (PT2) on Friday, they were well aware of the difficulties a test pilot faces while conducting sortie-operations.
The Bangalore-based Aircraft Systems and Training Establishment (ASTE) to which the two test pilots and the flight engineer belonged is no ordinary unit of the Indian Air Force (IAF).
This crucial establishment is the one where aircrafts and systems are evaluated before their induction into the user organisations. Wing commander (Retd) Rajiv Kothiyal, who was the first man to fly the technology demonstrator (TD-1) of the Light Combat Aircraft (LCA), said that the test pilots were the ones who flew the aircraft which were not fully tested.
“They are the ones who test and expand the envelope, decide how fast to go. When one pilots an unflown aircraft, the hazards are inherent.” India’s only cosmonaut Wing Commander (Retd) Rakesh Sharma said that the test pilots were selected and rigorously trained. He added that the deceased crew members on board Saras (PT- 2) were his former colleagues and were highly skilled.


~ by anand213 on March 9, 2009.

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