A recent Flightglobal article described how Swiss pilots flew the Gripen and evaluated its performance and characteristics as well as its ability to perform certain missions. This is an example of a “qualitative evaluation.”
The qual eval flight test technique is a training tool used in test pilot schools world-wide. Pictured above is a contingent of test pilots and flight test engineers from Epner, the French Air Force Test Pilot School, after a qual eval in the C-17. Part of its purpose is to expose future test pilots to a host of different aircraft types, design solutions, etc.
Another purpose, as illustrated in the aforementioned article, is to allow test pilots to evaluate a prototype aircraft for purchase or procurement.
Several kinds of FTT maneuvers may be included in a qual eval:
1. Performance FTTs – to evaluate takeoff performance or turn rate, for example.
2. Flying Qualities FTTs – exploring how the airplane handles
3. Systems FTTs – do the avionics or sensors, etc., meet the requirements for the mission
Finally, an operational profile may be performed to evaluate suitability for the mission and assess workload and human factors issues as well.
On the last Friday of each month, the column What is an FTT describes some of the fundamental maneuver building blocks performed by test pilots to gather data during flight test missions. An FTT is in some sense a description of an experiment. It is a key element of the scientific method applied to aerospace sciences, engineering, and aviation.
You can access all of these posts by clicking on the FTT category hyperlink below the post title.
Each Friday, @FlightTestFact will deliver examples, definitions, and explanations of flight test techniques for the entire day. You can view these tweets by searching for #FTT and #flighttest as depicted below. You can also click on the picture below to be taken to the twitter search results. What FTT would you like to know more about?