Test Foundations for Flight Test


  • This course introduces the components involved with planning, executing, analyzing, and reporting on a flight test program. Concepts such as test planning, risk identification and management, test conduct, data analysis, and technical reporting are presented with real-world flight test examples.
  • All students will receive an AIAA Certificate of Completion at the end of the course.


The “Test Foundations for Flight Test” course provides an understanding of the fundamental components involved with planning, executing, analyzing, and reporting on a flight test program. The course will begin with a real-world flight test vignette, introducing the importance of flight test and the plan/execute/analyze/report (PEAR) cycle. Next, a systems engineering approach will be presented, introducing the concept of problem decomposition, requirement traceability, test planning, risk identification, and resource provisioning. To apply these concepts, attendees will plan, execute, analyze, and report on a simple automobile cruise control and speedometer test project.

The course continues with a detailed look at test planning and risk identification, providing real-world flight test examples. Next, flight test execution and test conduct will be covered to include test methodology, communication plans, determination of safety abort parameters, and use of test execution tools. Design principles and best practices for the creation of test execution tools will be detailed for development of control room screens and test cards. Flight test analysis methods will be introduced with methods for accessing, processing, and saving aircraft flight data with sample data sets and basic analysis tools provided. Finally, the course will detail technical reporting concepts to include technical writing basics, presentation of data, and technical presentation techniques.

The culmination of the course will entail a problem decomposition project where test planning, risk identification, risk management, and resource provisioning are applied to a real-world test scenario.

  • Understand the various phases of a flight test program, Plan/Execute/Analyze/Report, from program initiation to final technical reporting.
  • Explain the key concepts for successful test planning to include the importance of requirement traceability, the elements of a test plan, and the composition of a test team.
  • Understand the elements of test safety planning, risk identification and management, and hazard mitigation.
  • Gain experience with test conduct concepts to include test methodology, communication plans, monitoring safety parameters, and test execution tools such as control room screens and test cards.
  • Gain foundational skills for analyzing flight test data by applying basic tools for accessing, processing, and saving aircraft flight data.
  • Learn the ability to communicate technical content through data presentation, verbal reports, and written technical reports.
  • Apply a Systems Engineering philosophy to problem decomposition and risk identification for a sample real-world flight test vignette.
The course is intended for any engineer, scientist, researcher, or manager who engages in the planning, execution, analysis, and/or reporting of flight test activities. The course is a broad overview and best suited to those with less than 10 years of experience or limited formal education in flight test engineering.

Type of Course: Instructor-Led Short Course
Course Level: Fundamentals-Intermediate
Course Length: 3 days
AIAA CEU's available: Yes

This course is also available on-demand. Register here.

Class 1 – Introduction and Flight Test Examples

  • Introduction to flight test
  • Real-world test vignette – Importance of flight test
  • Plan/Execute/Analyze/Report (PEAR) Process

Class 2 – Systems Engineering and Project Application

  • Systems theory and scientific method applied to flight test
  • Problem decomposition and generation of test requirements
  • Project application – evaluation of an automobile cruise control and speedometer

Class 3 – Test Planning Process

  • Elements of a test plan
  • Test objectives and measures of performance
  • Test methodology and test point matrix
  • Real-world examples – test planning

Class 4 – Test Safety Principles

  • System safety
  • Hazard identification and mitigation
  • Risk assessment
  • Real-world examples - case studies

Class 5 – Test Conduct

  • Test control and personnel roles
  • Communication plan
  • Pre-flight predictions
  • Test safety risk reduction tools – monitoring safety parameters

Class 6 – Test Execution Resources

  • Control room display principles
  • Test card design principles

Class 7 (Hour 1) - Presentations – Project application

  • Results from evaluation of an automobile cruise control and speedometer

Class 7 (Hour 2) – Flight Test Data Analysis Methods

  • Accessing data and data formats
  • Analysis methods
  • Sample data analysis problems

Class 8 – Technical Reporting – Written Reports

  • Technical writing concepts
  • Guidance on grammar and mechanics
  • Data presentation
  • Sample data presentation tools

Class 9 (Hour 1) – Technical Reporting – Verbal Reports

  • Verbal presentation skills
  • Example presentation formats

Class 9 (Hour 2) – Problem Decomposition Project

  • Introduction of sample test vignettes from various programs

Class 10 - Presentations – Problem Decomposition Project

  • Application of test planning, risk identification, risk management, and resource provisioning
Ms. Jessica “STING” Peterson has over 18 years of experience in Flight Test Engineering on fighter, bomber, trainer, and unmanned aircraft. She is a graduate of the United States Air Force Test Pilot School (USAF TPS) and has over 500 hours in 40+ aircraft types as a Flight Test Engineer, primarily in the T-38, F-16, and C-12 aircraft. The highlight of her career was when she got to shake the hand of a pilot whose life was saved by a system she helped develop and test, the F-16 Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (Auto GCAS). Prior to returning to graduate school as a Research Assistant and PhD student at University Nevada Reno (UNR), Jessica taught Test Foundations to hundreds of flight test and space test professionals at the USAF TPS. This course, based on real-world flight test examples, makes the foundational concepts of flight test accessible to a wide range of expertise and backgrounds.


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