The testing of a fighter jet or any military aircraft is a long and complicated process which involves hours in the air and on the ground to measure the performance of the plane on every parameter there is in order to assure its safety.
One of the unusual practices undertaken in the testing phases is flying the fighter jet without using the canopy, in a bid to assess the impact of an emergency egress procedure on the aircraft, which occurs in the period between the canopy being jettisoned and the pilot ejecting safely.
As revealed in a documentary video produced to celebrate the 100-year commemoration of the foundation of the 929th Chkalov State Flight-Test Center at Akhtubinsk in Russia, the Su-57 bort number “058” took part in a similar test.
The plane which is also known as T-50-8, made its maiden departure from Komsomolsk-on-Amur in the Russian Far East on November 17, 2016. Despite the fact that this was the eighth model, it was really the seventh to fly, as T-50-7 was finished exclusively for static tests on the ground.
According to the footage, the pilot is seen wearing a non-standard protective flight suit, at the controls of the Su-57 at altitude over Russia, presumably operating from the Akhtubinsk test centre. While the fighter’s cockpit windscreen remains in place, the rear portion including the framework is absent.
Normally, the Felon’s single pilot is equipped with a K-36D-5 ejection seat, PPK-7 flight suit, and ZSh-10 helmet, which are all developed by the Zvezda Company specifically for the fighter jet.
The experimental drill reviews a famous sortie undertaken in the United Kingdom during the advancement of the Panavia Tornado strike airplane by British Aerospace (BAe) aircraft tester Keith Hartley in 1988.
In 1988, our test pilot Keith Hartley flew at 500 knots in a Tornado aircraft with the canopy off, testing the emergency escape procedures of the jet; just one example of the lengths we go to test the safety of the planes we build for the RAF. https://t.co/ueE5RDQt0Y #RAF100 pic.twitter.com/jcgL1OUIKL
— BAE Systems (@BAESystemsplc) June 20, 2018
BAE Systems has stated the “cockpit habitability trial” was conducted for “testing the emergency escape procedures of the jet.” As a two-seat jet, the Tornado was flown on that occasion with the rear position unoccupied and the navigator’s ejection seat removed.