Naval Test Pilot School’s Flying Classroom Takes First Flight
PATUXENT RIVER, Md. — The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) conducted its first flight of Airborne Systems Training and Research Support (ASTARS) III on Aug. 21, Naval Air Warfare Center Aircraft Division said in a 22 release.
The first flight objective validated the aircraft’s naval subsystems ahead of its addition to the USNTPS’ class 155 syllabus which began last month. Class 155 will be the first class leveraging ASTARS III for all systems flight test events.
ASTARS III, the third generation of flying classroom supporting the USNTPS curriculum, is a custom-tailored C-26A Metroliner equipped with military equipment and subsystems. A custom-tailored simulation lab was also built in conjunction with the aircraft to have matching crew stations. The ASTARS objective is for students to familiarize themselves with the aircraft and its systems in a simulation lab before flying airborne for the first time increasing the efficiency of flight time spent with instructors in the air.
USNTPS’ original ASTARS is a divested P-3; ASTARS II is a leased modified Saab 340 with its contract ending this fall.