ITPS Canada’s 5th Generation Surrogate Training Aircraft completes first flight

Avatar for Skies MagazineBy Skies Magazine | September 26, 2023

Estimated reading time 4 minutes, 3 seconds.

ITPS’s 5STA Hawker Hunter aircraft completed its first flight in September 2023. ITPS Photo

The International Test Pilots School (ITPS) Canada is setting a new standard in pilot training, and addressing the high operating costs of fifth-generation fighters, with the introduction of its 5th Generation Surrogate Training Aircraft (5STA).

The 5STA is a Hawker Hunter aircraft with upgraded technology that emulates the performance and avionics of the latest generation fighters — at a fraction of the operating costs.

On Sept. 26, ITPS announced in a press release that the 5STA Hunter has successfully completed its first flight, which took place at the test pilot school’s London, Ont., facility.

“Meticulous planning and flawless execution led to success,” said Giorgio Clementi, the concept originator, chief engineer, and head of flight test at ITPS. “Congratulations to the team on the first flight of our 5th Gen Surrogate Training Aircraft (5STA). It has been a long road with many hurdles, but the ITPS team kept the faith, and it has borne fruit. Over the coming months, we will develop it to its full capabilities.”

The 5STA emulates the performance and avionics of fifth-generation fighters like the F-35. ITPS Photo

ITPS specializes in experimental flight testing and advanced military flight training, and offers a variety of test pilot and flight test engineer courses for both fixed- and rotary-wing platforms. Developed by the school over the past three years, the Hunter 5STA will provide current and prospective fifth-gen fighter operators with a solution to reduce flight training hours on high-cost assets.

The Hunter boasts a fifth-generation human machine interface (HMI), helmet-mounted display (HMD), and live virtual constructive training (LVCT) through datalink. According to ITPS, the transonic jet trainer will be deployed at the school for a wide range of exercises, including fundamental avionics testing, evaluation of workload and system mission suitability during representative missions, as well as performance and flying qualities testing exercises.

The 5STA has been in development for the past three years. ITPS Photo

“5STA makes ITPS the first test pilot school to offer its students this novel capability based on commercial-off-the-shelf (COTS) hardware and software, [which is] accessible to all customers,” the school said.

Watch highlights from the 5STA’s first flight below.

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