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KU Aerospace Short Course Program

Flight Test Principles and Practices

Instructors: Donald T. Ward, George Cusimano

Course Schedule

November 13-17, 2017, Orlando, Florida

Early registration course fee: $2,495 if you register and pay by September 29, 2017

Regular registration course fee: $2,695 if you register and pay after September 29, 2017

Orlando Lodging and Travel Information

You can also bring this course to your workplace. Learn more about our on-site program.


An introduction to and definition of the basic flight test process, application of engineering principles to flight test and description of common flight test practices. An introduction to the flight test discipline, the course is embellished with a variety of examples from completed flight test programs.

Includes instruction, course materials, refreshments and lunches. The course notes are for participants only and are not for sale.

**U.S. Federal Employee Discount: This course is available to federal employees at a 10% off the registration fee. To receive the federal employee discount, enter the code fgvt116 when registering. Please note that you must validate your eligibility to receive this discount by entering your U.S. government email address ending with .gov or .mil.


  • Flight test introduction/overview and brief history
  • The atmosphere
  • Mass, center of gravity and moment of inertia determination
  • Time/space position measurements
  • Air data calibration methods
  • Instrumentation system principles
  • Data recording and processing methods
  • Proper use of digital bus data
  • In-flight measurement of thrust and power
  • Stall tests
  • Flight test planning and interaction with program planning
  • Preliminary preparation: modeling and simulation preparation, and value of ground testing
  • Takeoff and landing and cruise performance
  • Climb performance
  • Advanced performance methods
  • Static stability and control
  • Structural flight tests
  • Spin testing
  • Systems testing and evaluation

Who Should Attend?

The course is designed for all levels of engineers and managers in industry working on flight test projects, military and civil project engineers, test pilots and flight test engineers, government research laboratory personnel and FAA and other regulatory agency engineers. It is ideally suited for engineers and managers from other disciplines who are moving into the flight test discipline for the first time or who must interact with flight test engineers regularly on a given project.

Times / CEUs

35.00 classroom hours
3.500 CEUs

Certificate Track

Flight Tests and Aircraft Performance

Learning Objectives

This course is intended to clarify and explain basic philosophies and principles underpinning the flight test community and its role in developing manned aircraft and their systems.

  • Appreciate the historical context of why flight tests are needed and how the discipline has evolved.
  • Establish the environment (the atmosphere, types of measurements, and summarize typical maneuvers used) for collecting and analyzing flight test data.
  • Understand the working relationship between flight test and the system engineering community in developing aircraft and aircraft systems, especially the fundamentals of test planning and verification issues.
  • Grasp the fundamentals of data recording and processing both digital and analog data from flight tests.
  • Obtain an appreciation for flight test techniques covering all aspects of aircraft performance and aircraft stability and control.
  • Gain exposure to selected advanced topics germane to specialized data collections (structural flight test, propulsion flight tests, stall, testing, and high angle of attack tests).
  • Understand the importance of modeling and simulation support of flight tests and specific types of ground tests conducted in support of flight test.
  • Appreciate the importance of aircraft systems, how they are evaluated during flight tests, and how those measurements can be most efficiently carried out.
  • Grasp the fundamental nature of risk management in flight test.

Course Outline

Day One

  • Flight test overview and introduction
  • The atmosphere: properties, altimetry, pneumatic systems; air data principles and measurements: airspeed, altitude, Mach number, and flow direction
  • Mass, center of gravity and moment of inertia determination
  • Time/space position measurements
  • Air data calibration methods: position error, temperature probe, angle of attack and sideslip calibration

Day Two

  • Instrumentation system principles: design requirements, static and dynamic response, calibration
  • Data recording and processing methods: analog, digital, filtering and signal conditioning
  • Proper use of digital bus data (MIL-1553, ARINC 429, 629) for flight testing; propulsion system testing: piston, turboprop and turbofan engines
  • In-flight measurement of thrust and power
  • Flight test program planning: organization, milestones, flight cards, documentation, procedures, safety issues

Day Three

  • Ground preparation: wind tunnel tests, ground qualification testing of components, use of models and simulation, ground vibration tests, and aircraft modifications
  • Stall tests: stall speed determination, stall characteristics, stall protections systems
  • Takeoff and landings and cruise performance: speed, range and endurance
  • Climb performance: test methods, correction to standard conditions, specific energy concepts
  • Aerodynamic flight research techniques: flow visualization, boundary layer measurements, and ancillary flight tests

Day Four

  • Static stability and control: longitudinal and lateral-directional static stability testing
  • Dynamic stability and control: dynamic mode characteristics and measurement
  • Handling qualities: Cooper-Harper scale, FAR and MIL-SPEC requirements, workload scale
  • Parameter identification: regression analysis, maximum likelihood estimation of derivatives

Day Five

  • Advanced performance methods: nonstabilized performance methods, turning performance, thrust drag accounting, isolation and measurement of component drags
  • Structural flight tests: static loads, flutter
  • High angle of attack testing: rationale and background, aircraft modifications, test methods, and risk management
  • Systems testing and evaluation: introduction to system testing, examples include communication, navigation, SAS and autopilots

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On-site Contact Information

To learn about bringing a course to your workplace, contact Sarah Williams, on-site program manager, for a no-cost, no-obligation proposal.
Email ProfessionalPrograms@ku.edu
Phone 913-897-8782

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