The National Test Pilot School is located at Mojave Airport in California, close to Edwards, AFB. Mojave Air and Space Port houses many civilian flight test organizations. The NTPS hangar and classroom facility totals 42,000 square feet. Flight Research, our maintenance contractor, has an additional five hangars for aircraft storage and maintenance.
The school building has five classrooms, faculty offices, student work areas, briefing rooms, two lounges, conference rooms, library, two simulator rooms, three computer based data analysis facilities, telemetry ground station, operations room and administrative sections, showers, lockers and a racquetball court. This facility, designed specifically as a test pilot school, was opened in October 1987.
Instructional equipment in the school includes a PCM telemetry ground station with on line data analysis, strip charts, ethernet connected computer stations. Preprogrammed computer data analysis systems are located in three separate locations. In house simulation facilities include a variable stability ground based X-Plane simulator, a general aviation Microsoft IFR simulator, two FLY-IT helicopter and fixed wing FAA approved simulators, a Falcon 4 RADAR simulator and a Camber Corporation RADAR display simulator. An NVG and HMD laboratory facility are also available.
Many of the texts used during NTPS courses are produced and published by NTPS ensuring that the correct depth of information is immediately available. Other information is presented in standard texts available from commercial sources. In addition, tutorial material is available for use as a self-paced study for students.
The school's location lies within convenient range of a number of other flight test activities including Edwards AFB with both the USAF and NASA Dryden Flight Test Centers and the USAF Test Pilot School (20 miles); The Naval Weapons Center, China Lake California (50 miles); Pacific Missile test Center, Pt Mugu California (80 miles); and Palmdale California with its aerospace industrial complex (30 miles). Desert weather is good throughout the year resulting in only a small number of weather related flight delays. Housing is plentiful in the Lancaster/Palmdale area as well as in nearby Tehachapi.
The flight test support facilities available to the National Test Pilot School are diverse and unique which enables NTPS to offer world class professional flight test training for both the civilian and military customers. A short list of these facilities are:
- Airport: Three runways 12,500 ft, 7,050 ft and 3946 ft in length. A modern control tower, fire station, medivac helicopter, and ambulance service are located on the airport and are manned by professionally trained personnel.
- Airspace: NTPS has a joint use agreement with Edwards AFB to use the Military Operating areas (MOA's) and the Edwards restricted airspace including the ranges, spin areas, and the supersonic corridors.
- Tower Fly-by-Grid: A surveyed tower fly-by grid has been set up in the old Mojave Airport control tower for pitot static calibrations of aircraft. Mojave airport also has a waiver to the 250 kt limit below 10,000 ft when the fly-by-tower is in use by NTPS high speed aircraft.
- Ground Course: A surveyed three nautical mile course has been laid out on a range adjacent to Mojave airport for Pitot static calibration of slow aircraft.
- Take-off and Landing Instrumentation: The school has two differential GPS units allowing for very accurate Takeoff and Landing flight tests
- Tethered Hover: A tethered hover system is installed on the airport to facilitate helicopter hover tests in and out of ground effect.
- Maintenance: Maintenance on most of the aircraft used at the National Test Pilot School is contracted out to Flight Research, Inc. (FRI). FRI maintains, installs and calibrates instrumentation and presents the aircraft for use at NTPS.
Many of the aircraft which will be used to support FAA training are equipped with NTPS Standard Instrumentation Systems (SIS). The SIS is composed of transducers, signal conditioning, displays and a Pi Research data logger. The SIS can record and display up to 36 digital and analog signals. Data is logged onto a solid state data logger from 1 Hz to 500 Hz as specified by the test engineer. Data is displayed via flat panel displays in analog and/or digital formats.
After a data collection flight, the data logger is down loaded onto the NTPS server and is available for student analysis within 30 minutes of engine shut-down. Students are easily able to manipulate the data via Pi Toolbox. Data can be output as time histories, tables or histograms.
Telemetry and Control Room
Impala S/N 155TP is instrumented for loads, flutter and spin testing. The aircraft is equipped with an Ayden Vector PCU816-12 telemetry system which transmits critical parameters to the NTPS control room in real time. The control room has 6 student stations each capable or displaying student defined engineering data.