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Summary of the 31st SFTE Annual Symposium "Flight Test in the New Millennium"

Turin, Italy (2000-09-18/22)

It was the Chapter’s turn to host the main symposium this year and the primary host corporation, Alenia Aerospazio, along with NLR, created a truly remarkable event. The welcome and hospitality by the civic authorities from the city of Turin, the Province of Turin and the Piedmont region were well above expectations. Together with Rodolfo Carabelli and his team, this made the time spent here a rewarding and memorable experience.
The symposium was held in the Union Industriale, which is a part modern and part historic building.

On Monday the Technical Council and Annual Business meetings were held in the beautiful, historic rooms in the old part of the venue. The painted walls tapestries and ornate furnishings were an occasional distraction from the main business. However it was duly completed in time for the reception there on Monday evening.

The Technical Sessions covered the following topics, Instrumentation, Flight Test Techniques, Management & Programs, Data Analysis, Simulation & Facilities and Subsystem Testing. There was international participation in both civil and military areas.
The hard work was punctuated with high quality refreshments and opportunities for discussions and demonstrations with the vendors who, once again, strongly supported SFTE. The best technical presentation of each session was recognised with an award. The Technical Council Chairman, Dean Carico and a dedicated team of ‘volunteers’ carried out the task of judging. The best of symposium award went to Mattias Bergström and Erik Söderström’s paper on ‘The Introduction of Desktop Simulation in the Carefree Manoeuvring Flight Test Program of JAS39 Gripen’.

While all the technical work was going on the spouses were not neglected and were escorted by City of Turin tourist guides on tours around the city, a visit to a historic hunting lodge, the Egyptian Museum and the Turin shroud, exhibited as part of the special events for 2000. A ‘Pilgrims Steps’ tour proved popular, but tiring. Spouses described the lunches as deliciously, awesome.

Thursday evening’s Gala dinner topped everything. Alenia arranged for buses to take everyone to their premises at Caselle Sud. The gathering entered the hangar to the sounds of a marching band that played a little of everything including ‘Dixie’. Dressed in white tails, the staff meanwhile delivered sparkling wine and appetisers. On display was a rare FIAT G55 fighter of 1942 vintage, ready for inspection by enthusiasts. The assembly then moved on to the dining hangar that took the evening up a notch. The congregation first saw the back of the hangar with spotlights showing off a beautifully crafted SVA two-seat, vintage biplane of WWI and of course, the Eurofighter. In front of all this was the mass of richly coloured round tables, each with a spotlight and dazzling display of polished plates, cutlery and a plethora of wineglasses. The food was phenomenal and the Master of Ceremonies, Mario Alberto Salvator, kept things light-hearted and helped move the speeches and awards presentation along. Guest speaker, Maurizio Cheli, Alenia aerospace Chief Test Pilot & Italian Astronaut regaled the guests with his fascinating talk of his space shuttle flight.

After a short night of sleep, buses took interested visitors back to the same Alenia facilities for a technical tour of the control room, EMI/EMC test grounds and cockpits of the C-27J, Eurofighter and the same vintage aircraft as the previous evening. A high-speed pass by the F104S was a fitting touch. Alenia topped it all off with, you’ve guessed, one glorious last meal.
The efforts of Rodolfo Carabelli and his staff were inspiring. This was without any reservation, truly a landmark symposium.

Rodolfo Carabelli (2nd left) with the "Terrific Turin Team"