On January 20, 2021, Air Vice Marshal Ajit Lamba (Retd) would have turned 85. And, as during several birthdays especially in the last few years, he had planned to gift himself some special moments. Doing something he was passionate about — flying.
The Society of Experimental Test Pilots - Indian Section
The Test Pilot community stands at the cusp of a revolution today. While AI and automation are the new buzzwords to enhance safety and reduce workload, hull losses continue to occur which are traced back to humble legacy pitot static systems and angle of attack vanes. Assumptions made by design teams fail in the real world with catastrophic consequences. All these areas rely on the domain expertise of the test pilot and require the community to step up and provide the necessary inputs to ensure Flight Safety. The community is responsible for the safety of the end users – the military and civilian pilots. It is an onerous task and a heavy burden.
Seldom has progress in any area been as spectacular as it has been in the realm of aerospace. A pilot from the first part of the twentieth century would be awestruck at the level of technology available in the cockpit today. The Test Pilot community has been a witness to the entire evolution, supporting it and providing the vital safety oversight. Where the Test Pilot inputs were sought well in time and considered, the program has benefited. Where this was not done or done late, the results can be inefficient at best and catastrophic at worst.
There is an old saying that there are no lessons learnt, only lessons relearnt. While this may be debatable, what is clear is that a formal means for lessons learnt dissemination plays a vital part in Flight Test Safety. This was the priority identified by the Indian members of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots when they started discussions among themselves to form a local Indian Section of the SETP in Bangalore. The case was taken up formally in the form of a petition on 18 Feb 2020. The SETP board of directors approved the formation of an Indian Section on 19 Mar 2020, initially as a Chapter, with progress to be reviewed after one year of operations. The Indian Section has been initially approved as a Chapter as it had just 12 members on the date of approval. The chapter will be upgraded to a Section once the membership numbers go up and the Chapter is able to conduct the requisite number of educational meetings. The Indian Section shares in the Vision of SETP and is committed to following the SETP constitution as well as all the laid down SETP processes.
The Indian Section seeks to enhance Flight Test Safety in the country by providing a platform for exchange of lessons learnt, technical expertise on flight test techniques, technological advances in aerospace and a pool of professionals who can be called upon to mentor young professionals entering the field as well as cross program pollination of knowledge.
The test pilot is probably the sole common denominator of manned aerospace progress. SETP is unique in being exclusively a tool of the manned aerospace industry. The Indian Chapter of SETP aims to provide knowledge resources to the Indian Test Pilot community as they go about their task of seeking and reporting the truth. This website is the primary communications platform for the members