Evaluating a new aircraft or airborne system demands a strong background in mathematics and the physical sciences as well as extensive flying experience. Many pilots and engineers selected to attend flight test schools have not had the opportunity for many years to exercise the academic skills learned in school. The objectives of the course are to prepare the students academically in the basic concepts of mathematics, physics, aerodynamics, aircraft performance and stability and control and airborne systems evaluation techniques. The six-week course is basically divided into three sections:
|Two week refresher in mathematics (trigonometry, calculus, differential equations) and physical sciences
Two weeks of introduction to performance and flying qualities flight testing
Two weeks of introduction to airborne systems evaluations
During the four weeks the student attends the introductory performance & flying qualities and systems courses, they learn the basics of test team building, data analysis, and report writing. Performance and flying qualities data flights are flown in an instrumented aircraft, which reinforces the data acquisition and data analysis techniques learned in the classroom. Hands-on flights are flown in NTPS aircraft for flight test techniques demonstrations. Systems flight demonstrations and evaluations are done in small groups in technologically advanced aircraft.
This course, offered twice a year since 1976, has proven to be a very successful preparatory school for pilots and engineers prior to entering test pilot schools both in the US and abroad. Foreign students who speak English as a second language find the course particularly useful as an immersion course in technical English and as an exposure to a different culture.