A LEONARDO Helicopters trainee test flight engineer from Wells has completed the first phase of his training to qualify as a professional aircrew member.

Trainee Ben Standen grew up in the city and attended Wells Blue School.

His interest in aircraft and aviation emerged when he watched Lynx, Sea King and Merlin helicopters flying over and near the city, and he is now conducting test flights in helicopters produced by Leonardo in Yeovil

He and Josh Sleeman, who is from St Austell in Cornwall, have completed the first phase of their qualification as professional aircrew at Leondardo in Yeovil.

In the coming months, they are set to be approved as Ministry of Defence MAA (Military Aviation Authority) and EASA (EU Aviation Safety Agency) lead flight test engineers.

Ben said: "Having completed the first stage of my training as a flight test engineer at Leonardo in Yeovil, I am excited about the opportunities this career will provide, applying my technical skills and passion for aviation, at the forefront of rotary wing innovation in the UK."

Josh added: "Being a flight test engineer at Leonardo in Yeovil is great. 

"I enjoy the prospect of coming to work each day and testing various state-of-the-art military aircraft, which provides a varied and interesting job.

"Training as a flight test engineer through modular courses and mentored on the job training has offered a challenging yet rewarding environment and has allowed me to develop as a professional.

"I am excited about my future prospects as a flight test engineer at the company, which I am sure will provide me with a good career and allow me to continue to work on the latest rotary wing technologies and innovations."

Ben and Josh will now progress to phrase two of their training, which will include qualifying to operate as flight test engineers in the cockpit of the AW101, and then in the cabins and cockpits of other Leonardo helicopters.

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Before joining Leonardo, they studied Aerospace Engineering at the University of the West of England in Bristol, where they were a couple of years apart on the course.

They were also members of the university's gliding club.

The syllabus for trainee flight engineers at Leonardo includes basic airmanship, aircrew skills, human factors, and aircraft familiarisation courses. 

The course is delivered in a modular format and builds post-production flight test experience through mentored coaching.

Last year, the flight operations team at Leonardo in Yeovil flew for more than 870 hours in several different types of helicopters across 585 flights.