Major (Retired) Rich Pillans

Rich joined the Royal Electrical and Mechanical Engineers in 1994 on a gap-year commission in the UK, Germany and Canada prior to studying Avionics Systems Engineering at The University of Bristol.

After commissioning (again) into the Army Air Corps in 2000, he served infantry tours with the Worcester & Sherwood Foresters and the Royal Irish Regiment in Northern Ireland before pilot training, later converting onto Gazelle and Lynx helicopters.

Rich attended the Empire Test Pilots’ School at MOD Boscombe Down in 2006 and conducted experimental flight testing on the Apache, Chinook, Puma, Lynx and Dauphin helicopters. He retired from the military in 2010, having served in Northern Ireland, the Balkans, Canada, Kenya, USA, and mainland Europe. Rich joined QinetiQ as a civilian test pilot, living and working alongside Airbus Helicopters in southern France while bringing the significantly upgraded Puma Mk2 into service.

In 2014, Rich returned to flying Chinook helicopters when he joined Boeing as their Chief Test Pilot. He now leads a team of pilots and engineers flying helicopters and fixed wing aircraft in support of all three services of the UK military. Rich holds both European and US helicopter & fixed wing pilot’s licences; he flies the Historic Aircraft Flight Sioux XT131 (G-CICN).