Naval Test Pilot School’s Flying Classroom Takes First Flight

August 22, 2018 – The U.S. Naval Test Pilot School (USNTPS) conducted its first flight of Airborne Systems Training and Research Support (ASTARS) III, Tuesday, August 21. 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 taxis ahead of its first flight testing the airframe, avionics and mission system to verify the aircraft and its subsystems are safe for flight operations at the United States Naval Test Pilot School in Patuxent River, Md. on August 21. (U.S. Navy photo)

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 fall 2018.

With facilities in Patuxent River, Maryland; Lakehurst, New Jersey; and Orlando, Florida, NAWCAD supports the research and development, engineering, test and evaluation of all Navy and Marine Corps air vehicle systems and trainers.