The 12-month professional course is for fixed and rotary wing pilots and engineers who require the full scope of flight test instruction. Graduates of this course are capable of performing first flight, envelope expansion, and definitions of performance, handling qualities and aircraft systems required for acceptance under civil regulations or military standards. Throughout the course, particular attention is given to the Federal Airworthiness Regulations, the Joint Airworthiness Regulations and a comparison is made with the military standards for piloted aircraft.
The entire course is taught in an integrated manner, with the students receiving the academic instruction necessary to understand the flight experiments. The flight test techniques are demonstrated in one or two types of aircraft and graded missions are flown in a different type of aircraft. The flight test results are analyzed and compared with both civil certification requirements and military standards, and then decisions are made on the results. After the flight experiments in the school aircraft each subject is expanded to the current state of the art in all existing and anticipated flight regimes. Well written, concise and technically correct reports on the flight experiments are essential and the students are encouraged to recommend modifications to the aircraft or aircraft systems. Student progress is continually monitored to ensure their technical and managerial skills are consistent with the requirements of good flight test discipline and program execution. To take full advantage of the team approach to flight testing, it is highly recommended that a pilot and an engineer from the same organization enroll together for the course.
Prerequisites for attending include: for pilots, a minimum of 750 hr of pilot-in-command time and a bachelor's degree (or equivalent military academy) in math, science or engineering; for engineers, the same degree requirements plus medically qualified to perform flight duties. Non-native English speakers need to demonstrate English proficiency by taking a Test of English as a Foreign Language (TOEFL).
For those unable to attend the entire year-long Professional Course, three other options are available for certificate courses at the Profession level. All three options are subsets of the full course. The courses are aligned with the Professional Course and, with the exception of the final project, are coincident. That is, pilots and engineers in either course attend the same academic classes and fly the same exercises as the students in the applicable portion of the Professional Course. Throughout both courses, in academics and flying, emphasis is placed on Federal Airworthiness Regulations, the Joint Airworthiness Regulations and military standards for piloted aircraft. Safety in flight test is stressed in all aspects of the courses.
The Professional Systems Flight Test Course is 24 weeks long. The course is held each year from January to June. Throughout the course there are multiple student-planned projects addressing all of the main systems taught. There are eight modules in the course, which are the same for both fixed and rotary wing students:
The Professional Performance and Flying Qualities Course is 26 weeks long. The course is held each year from June to December. There are seven different modules in the course. The last three weeks of the course are devoted to a student-planned evaluation of the performance and flying qualities of an aircraft they have not flown previously. Both fixed wing and rotary wing options are available.
The Light Aircraft Flight Test Course is 16 weeks long. The course is the first part of the Professional Performance and Flying Qualities course and includes the basics of F&FQ. Both fixed wing and rotary wing options are available. For the fixed wing version the flying is done in light aircraft to reduce costs. The course concludes with an individual two week final project for each student.
The Professional Course is structured in 17 different modules varying in length up to four weeks. The academic theory in each module is concentrated in the first week of the module and the school makes that academic week available to students other than those enrolled in a larger course. This allows those working in industry or government positions who have need for very specific flight test knowledge to attend the school during the applicable week for a modest cost. Availability is limited depending on the number of students enrolled in the Professional Course.
The National Test Pilot School (NTPS), through its Graduate unit, the National Flight Institute (NFTI), offers two tracks leading to the degree of Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering (MSFTE) or Master of Science in Flight Test and Evaluation (MSFT&E). The degree awarded depends upon the student’s undergraduate preparation. The engineering degree is accredited by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET).
Several short, introductory-level flight test courses are offered throughout the year, including:
Introduction to Performance and Flying Qualities, both for fixed and rotary wing aircraft. These are two week courses that introduce the basics of performance and flying qualities flight testing.
Introduction to Avionic Systems flight testing, also a two week course focused on the basics of systems flight testing using both fixed and rotary wing aircraft for practical exercises.
Operational Test and Evaluation flight testing course is three weeks long and uses fixed wing aircraft for exercises, although rotary wing aircraft can be substituted if required and arranged in advance.
Introduction to RPV Flight Testing flight test course is two weeks long. Simulators and a surrogate RPV are used in practical exercises to reinforce theory and concepts presented in the classroom.
Technical Pilot Course is two weeks long and focuses on the test flying done after manufacture or after major maintenance. Offsite simulators of large transport aircraft are used in this course.
On Demand Courses range from 1 day Crew Resource Management (CRM) refersher courses to a 16 week FAA Certification and Standardization Course. Additionally, with sufficient demand for a particular course, the National Test Pilot School can design courses to meet specific needs. Read more . . .