With great sadness we report the passing away of AVM Peter Dennis Antony Albuquerque AVSM (Retd) in Bangalore at about 8 pm on February 13, 2012. Peter was the most gentle and conscientious officer one could ever meet in Service. I believe it would be nearly impossible to find any one who was ever witness to his anger or heard him use harsh words. He leaves behind his equally gentle wife Vera, daughter Priya, sons Vijay and Anil and their families.
Peter qualified as an engineer with the BTech degree from the College of Engineering, Guindy, Madras and was commissioned in RIAF on 16 January 1950 in Tech (Elect) branch. Ten days later the R was dropped and RIAF became IAF. After completing training at Air Force Technical College, Jalahalli, Bangalore, he began his service life at Air Headquarters, New Delhi. His abilities and total dedication to work were soon noticed. In 1955 as a Flight Lieutenant he was selected to attend a two-year course at the College of Aeronautics, Cranfield. The institution is now the Cranfield University with the Royal Charter authorising it to issue degrees.
Peter's contribution to the aeronautical development started immediately on completion of his studies at Cranfield. Along with his senior co-student Sqn Ldr CS Naik (later AOM, now retired, and resident in Goa), Peter was deputed to Folland Aircraft Ltd. at Chilbolton, England. He soon acquired expertise in design and installation of test instrumentation on the Gnat aircraft for flight test data collection. Later, tropical trials of the Gnat were planned for the Gnat at Aircraft & Armament Testing Unit, Air Force Kanpur. A fully instrumented aircraft had been air lifted from Folland but it met with a crash in its early life at A&ATU. The tropical trials would have been delayed, perhaps even missing the hot North Indian summer but for Peter's hard work almost without rest for the next few days. He instrumented the replacement aircraft in full and its clearance was completed on schedule.
After having ensured the completion of the trials on the Gnat, by then Wg Cdr Naik, Sqn Ldrs Albuquerque and SK Nair were deputed to HAL, Bangalore to launch a Flight Test department for development of the HF-24 (Marut), India's first indigenous fighter aircraft. HAL had contracted Prof. KW Tank and his team to help with its design and development.. Peter carried out the necessary design and supervised installation of all required test instrumentation on its first prototype.
Trouble was encountered on the FH-24 first prototype during taxi trials, well before the aircraft could be cleared for flight. The wheel brakes got overheated with metal glowing red and tyres bursting. Precautions were taken to taxi the aircraft without using brakes too harshly to stop but it became necessary to know the temperature of the brake system to ensure the safety of the aircraft. Peter soon designed a temperature probe based on a thermocouple for the task, perhaps a world first. It was used regularly for the five years of testing of Marut prototypes.
The next major phase in Peter's service career was a return to Air Force Jalahalli. Faculty of Management Sciences and Advanced Technology (FOMSAT) was formed in February 1973, almost eight months prior to the inauguration of Indian Institute of Management, Bangalore. Initially a part of Air Force Station Jalahalli, FOMSAT was subsequently re-designated as one of the core faculties of Air Force Technical College in November 1976. Aptly, then Gp Capt (later AVM) PDA Albuquerque, AVSM, was chosen as the first Chief Instructor of FOMSAT Please see the citation reproduced below for his work at FOMSAT. This earned him the AVSM award from the President of India. In 1975, he attended the National Defence College, New Delhi.
Perhaps the vital and last major job for the IAF executed by Peter and his staff was the replacement of the unreliable Nav-Attack system of Jaguar aircraft. The aircraft borrowed from Royal Air Force were fitted with it. But the Inertial Nav-Attack Integration Organisation (IIO) under Peter created and cleared the far better DARIN system with necessary support from HAL and flight testing by Aircraft & Systems Testing Establishment.. The task was completed well in time to permit only the DARIN system to be installed on new Jaguar aircraft for which assembly had begun at HAL. This system has now been further improved to exploit later technologies. But the legacy of AVM PDA Albuquerque lives on – particularly on one of our main strike aircraft.
May his soul rest in eternal peace.