A New Kind of Modern Airmanship for Fly-by-Wire

15 May 2023

Chris is an experienced aerospace leader and flight test professional. He was just hired into a new role at the front of a large team, with increased responsibility for the development and test of new aerospace systems. The group that he leads – and much larger organization they interface with – are geographically scattered over large distances and work on a variety of different projects. As Chris meets his team, he learns that some have backgrounds in aerospace, but most were recruited from other high-tech industries, such as consumer electronics and automotive engineering. Just a few have any flight test experience from previous employers, and he is the only one with formal flight test training at a test pilot school.

A New Kind of Modern Airmanship for Fly-by-Wire

15 April 2023

Every student pilot learns about “airmanship” – an overarching concept including aviation knowledge, situational awareness, positive control, and prudent judgement. Good airmanship can be developed through training or practical experience, and it’s relentlessly pursued by professional aviators. Increasingly, many pilots find that both over-reliance on automation and lack of automation awareness threaten to erode their operational airmanship. Most new aircraft use fly-by-wire control systems, but pilots of these aircraft can rarely find straightforward or comprehensive information about the fly-by-wire system they are using for control. The aircraft’s fly-by-wire control system is usually oversimplified during training or not explained in an easily understood way. Although the aircraft flight manual tells pilots exactly "what" to do, questions of "how it works" and "why it's designed that way" are unresolved. The information gap about this critical aircraft system is a significant contributor to lack of automation awareness, and creates a growing aviation safety problem. Today’s professional pilots need a new kind of modern airmanship!

Data Analytics + Flight Test

26 March 2023

Data analytics is the process of examining data to draw insights and inform decisions. It involves collecting, transforming, and analyzing data to understand patterns, trends, and relationships. Data analysis is nothing new in flight test, but the last 10 to 15 years have seen major advancements in algorithms, programming frameworks, storage, parallel processing, and the use of graphics processing units (GPUs), resulting in what has been called “Big Data Analytics” in the financial and networking industries.

What is Flight Test?

20 May 2022

What is flight test? As a concept, flight test sounds exciting – it implies having "The Right Stuff” because “failure is not an option.” It suggests first flights of prototype vehicles, with orange wiring and experimental components. Boldly pushing to the edge of the envelope… and a maybe a bit beyond. Even the Marvel superhero movies feature test pilots!

Guiding Principles for Flight Test

21 May 2022

The previous post asked the question, “what is flight test?” In addition to offering a definition, it promised a methodology for professional flight test that can be learned and practiced. Let’s dive into that methodology, with an overview of the two guiding principles for flight test. The two foundational concepts for flight test are model validation and the build-up approach.

Creeping Requirements and Non-Zero Uncertainty

22 May 2022

Earlier in this series, we established that flight test is more than a job title. Rather, flight test exists to answer essential questions during product development related to verification and validation. Similar to the scientific method, flight test uses model validation and the build-up approach as fundamental strategies for efficiency and risk control. The next step to describing flight test should be one of prioritization, since testing everything would take forever and require infinite budget.

Flight Test Techniques

23 May 2022

Advanced aerospace products can be developed with greater efficiency and confidence. Professional flight test is a perspective and methodology that can be learned and practiced. By applying the fundamentals of model validation and the build-up approach, both established and start-up aerospace development teams can minimize recursive design delays and even avoid costly disasters. This article explores some of the tools used by test pilots and flight test engineers – the data collection methods known as flight test techniques.