If you think risk management is expensive, try paying for an accident

Forms of riskRisk takes many forms. Of course, this includes human injury and/or product/facility damage. It also includes financial, schedule, mission, compliance, organizational reputation, environmental, and many other areas of concern.

The fundamental perspective of professional flight test is risk management. Flight test is not a zero risk endeavor, nor should it be. Risk can have many dimensions, not just safety. The key is to target the right levels of risk, appropriate to answering the engineering questions. Although there will always be residual risk, the objective is to provide answers within a defined and accepted level of risk.

In this course, you will learn to identify test-specific hazards, with associated causes and effects. Through guided instruction and a student exercise, you will learn how to apply mitigations, reducing probabilities and severities for potential hazards.

This course teaches the concepts and practical application of  Flight Test Risk Management as used by: 

  • Federal Aviation Administration's (FAA) Aircraft Certification Service
  • US Air Force Test Center (including Edwards AFB)
  • US Navy -  Naval Air Systems Command
  • National Air and Space Administration (NASA) Flight Research


The test safety planning process taught by this course is essential not just for risk control during flight test execution, but enables efficient and effective development. Flight Test Risk Management is an essential component of a Safety Management System.

Practical Learning Objectives

Course content applicable to the entire test team

Flight test risk management is the fundamental perspective for professional flight test. This course is useful not just for flight test team members and safety practitioners, but also for accountable executives and program managers.


You will learn:

  • Understand the value of flight test risk management
  • Identify similarities and differences between flight test risk management and other safety processes
  • Recall terminology related to flight test risk management
  • Understand differences between Hazards, Causes, and Effects
  • Apply the flight test risk management process to create robust test hazard assessments
    • Be able to evaluate test hazards and identify related causes and effects
    • Be able to apply effective hazard mitigations to preempt causes and reduce effects 
    • Be able to categorize risk assessments based on probability, severity, and exposure
  • Apply flight test risk management principles for effective safety review before test
  • Apply flight test risk management products to prevent mishaps during test execution
  • Understand how flight test risk management principles are used after unexpected test results


Bonus material

The essential collection of tools and references

  • Test Hazard Analysis - Fillable PDF Worksheet

    Don't reinvent the wheel for your risk management process. This form includes fillable fields and instructions for use as a test hazard analysis worksheet.

  • Flight Test Risk Management - Vocabulary Reference

    All essential terminology with precise definitions and differences between FAA/USAF/USN usage.

  • Quick Reference Guides

    Printable rubric showing categorized lists of typical tests, arranged by risk category - High / Medium / Low - to aid risk assessment. Also included: standalone guide to create effective risk mitigations.

Course curriculum

  1. 1
  2. 2
    • Supporting Literature

    • Flight Test Risk Management within a Safety Management System

    • People and Roles in Flight Test Risk Management

  3. 3
    • Spectrum of Involvement

    • Test Safety Review Planning

    • The Safety Review Board

    • Debriefing and Lessons Learned Capture

    • Test your learning

  4. 4
    • Flight Test Techniques and System Knowledge

    • Literature Review

    • Identifying Hazards, Causes, and Effects

    • Mitigations for Probability and Severity

    • Contingency Procedures and Closure

    • Risk Categorization

    • General versus Specific Mitigations

    • Test your learning

  5. 5
    • Pre-flight Briefing Techniques

    • Redlines, Resequencing, and Other Changes

    • Test Discipline and Unexpected Results

    • Debriefing and Lessons Learned

    • Incidents, Accidents, and Mishaps

    • Test your learning

  6. 6
    • Congrats! Here's what's next...

    • More resources for you

    • Before you go...

Instructor

Test Pilot

David Kern

David Kern is a graduate of the US Air Force Test Pilot School, with experience planning and flying hundreds of flight test missions for civil aircraft certification and military projects. In 2011, he was the USAF F-16 project test pilot for the Collier Trophy-winning Automatic Ground Collision Avoidance System (AGCAS). In his USAF career, he served as Instructor Test Pilot and Director of Operations at the USAF Test Pilot School, teaching all parts of the multi-engine and fighter curricula. David is an Associate Fellow with the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, Member of the Society of Flight Test Engineers, and serves as a flight test pilot for the Aircraft Certification Service with the Federal Aviation Administration. He holds a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering and B.Sci. Electrical Engineering with a minor in Mathematics. He also holds an Airline Transport Pilot certificate with seven type ratings, is an active Certified Flight Instructor for instrument conditions, and has logged piloting time at the flight controls of over 80 different types of aircraft. His publications include "Flight Test Techniques for Active Electronically Scanned Array (AESA) Radar", "Accelerated Development of Flight Tested Sensors and Systems", and “Introduction to Fly-by-Wire Flight Control Systems: The professional pilot’s guide to understanding modern aircraft controls.”

Single Enrollment

Immediate, on-demand, course enrollment. Certificate available upon completion. Group discount available for team enrollment.