Experimental test pilots and flight test engineers from Denel Aviation are now offering their skills and experience to the benefit of clients across Africa, the company says.
This continental service is reinforced by a mobile telemetry vehicle capable of supporting flight testing at remote locations. Previously such highly specialised test flying could only be conducted in South Africa.
The new service is part of Denel Aviation’s initiative to grow its business in Africa. “We are taking our pilots, engineers and state-of-the-art technology to the client, cutting the cost and effort involved in flying aircraft to South Africa for testing,” said Mike Kgobe, Denel Aviation chief executive.
The company is also expanding its maintenance and repair services to military and civilian aircraft criss-crossing the continent. Last year Denel announced maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) partnerships with Russian Helicopters and Antonov.
“We are playing an increasingly important role to support defence forces and commercial aviation in Africa through flight testing and fleet maintenance,” Kgobe said.
Experimental flight testing is a specialised service provided by Denel Aviation. Test pilots and flight test engineers are responsible for ensuring every aircraft leaving the company’s facilities following maintenance or repair work is ready for full flying duties.
Denel Aviation’s Flight Test Centre in Johannesburg combines state-of-the-art facilities and telemetry with top-class flight test personnel for a specialised service with a growing reputation in the global aerospace community.
“This is truly specialist flying,” explained Derrick Matthee, Flight Test Centre manager. “Only the best and most experienced pilots are entrusted with these responsibilities”.
The experimental test pilots all gained initial experience in the military followed by professional test pilot courses at specialist schools in the US and the United Kingdom.
Their skill and experience make them adept at flying almost any type of aircraft from fighter jets to transport aircraft and modern helicopters.
Denel Aviation Flight Test capabilities and resources allow for completion of the full cycle of airborne and/or ground based system testing. The centre provides expertise and support for each individual task within any specific project.
“Our primary responsibility is aviation safety. Once an aircraft has passed our flight testing the client can be assured it is 100% safe and ready for regular flying duties,” Matthee said.
Located at 5 500 feet above sea level and with summer temperatures reaching 35°C, the Flight Test Centre is well suited for “hot and high testing” of helicopters and fixed-wing aircraft. It offers a runway length of 4 400m at OR Tambo International Airport and test airspace is allocated 10 nautical miles from Denel Aviation.
Sea level testing is conducted at Denel’s Overberg Test Range. This venue saw test pilots participate in testing of the A-Darter air-to-air-missile, jointly developed by Denel Dynamics and Brazil.
The list of work successfully done includes engine development testing for the SAAF Hawk Mk 120 lead-in fighter trainer, air-to-air refuelling testing between a Mirage III and an IL-78 tanker and support for the establishment of the Gripen Flight Test Centre at AFB Overberg.
The delivery of 12 Cheetah fighter jets to the Ecuadorian Air Force (FAE) was preceded by extensive flight testing and the training of the FAE pilots by Denel Aviation.
The flight test engineering and piloting capabilities offered by Denel Aviation go from planning to the generation of final flight test reports.