Questions tagged [flight-testing]

Flight testing refers to those activities on an aircraft for the purpose of gathering scientific or engineering data or demonstrating compliance with airworthiness regulations.

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37
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4answers
5k views

Can supersonic conditions be replicated on the ground?

In a previous question the P&W J 58 engine for the SR-71 was discussed. The engine was a new and innovative design combining the characteristics of a turbojet and a ramjet. Before flying with ...
36
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2answers
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Why was this commercial jet accompanied by small plane near Seattle?

From the South Beach Campground on the western shore of the Olympic Peninsula in Washington State we observed this unusual formation: I only had a Sony RX100 at hand but perhaps the image quality is ...
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Do test pilots on commercial aircraft wear a parachute?

I was watching a video of the first A350 flight. At 0:35 one of the pilots appears to be wearing a helmet and what looks like a parachute. Is that true? Do pilots on maiden flights wear such a kit, so ...
21
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1answer
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What is the purpose of the black and white stickers on test aircraft?

I want to ask what is the purpose of black and white stickers used on test aircraft. The following is a picture: I have seen variations of such stickers. Does anyone know what is reason for their ...
20
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5answers
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Why do uncontained engine failures still occur?

One of the absolute requirements of an aircraft turbine engine (usually some sort of turbofan or turboprop) installation is that, in the event of a destructive failure of the engine, the engine ...
19
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1answer
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How do test pilots determine an aircraft's capabilities?

How do test pilots figure out an aircraft's capabilities (service ceiling, cruising altitude, etc.)? Do they simply take the plane to its limits to get that information?
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Why are the tails always painted, but not the fuselage, in test and delivery flights?

Granted some airlines prefer to paint their own planes, but we always see planes like the one below, protective coating everywhere but the tail. Why's that? (Source)
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How strong is the A380 fuselage-wing joint?

The Airbus A380 has a maximum take-off weight of almost 600 tons. How strong does the joint between the wings and the fuselage have to be so it doesn't break? And how could it be trusted unless real-...
18
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For what program was this Cessna 182 fitted with canards?

I want to see if anyone knows what the heck is going on here. I was doing a flight out in Palo Alto California recently, and during the run up this Cessna 182 pulled in next to us. It appears to ...
16
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1answer
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What is the purpose of the ball and string attached to the tip of the vertical fin on test aircraft?

This question applies to aircraft being tested, presumably within a certification program. I've seen what looks like either a ball or "shuttlecock" at the end of a tether attached to the top/rear ...
16
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1answer
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Could a test crew replicate the 1961 DC-8 supersonic dive in a more modern airliner?

The first airliner to ever break the sound barrier was the DC-8, doing so in a semi-famous dive from 52,000' to 35,000' over the Edwards test range on August 21, 1961. Could this supersonic dive be ...
15
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3answers
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Why doesn't GE replace all 4 engines for on their flying test bed instead of just 1?

GE (General Electric) flies Boeing 747s equipped with new engines that are being tested. Why can't they equip the test airplane with all 4 of the new engines? Wouldn't the thrust be imbalanced by ...
15
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2answers
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Are test pilots certified to fly all aircraft types?

I just saw an hour long MIT lecture for no reason and the lecturer said he has flown over 70 kinds of aircraft. Does that mean a test pilot is certified to fly almost anything?
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Why are these windows on some airplanes red?

There are some red windows on the 737 and the CS-300 as well. Why are they painted red? Source Source
15
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1answer
795 views

How does this test flight escape aparatus work?

I was watching this video about the test flight escape systems on a Bombardier flight. In the video, this machine is shown: The yellow box moves up and down in the video. Does it move up and flip the ...
14
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2answers
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Did I witness an engine test for a 757 at MAN?

A while ago (Summer 2020) I was walking near MAN airport (UK) and saw a 757 taking off. There was a peculiar event during takeoff and I'd love to know what it was. Once airborne at about 1000 feet (...
14
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3answers
729 views

Why are airports like Roswell and Fresno so popular for flight tests?

I recently visited Roswell, NM, and was surprised at how many flight tests have been performed there. Even the fatal Gulfstream flight test crash happened there. My research shows that a lot of ...
14
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1answer
463 views

How did the US get the necessary knowledge to maintain their MiGs?

I read a book entitled America's Secret MiG Squadron by Gaillard Peck some time ago. Just occurred to me though, how exactly did the US maintain these birds? Did we write any tech data? Did we acquire ...
13
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1answer
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What is that little black thing tied to the vertical stabilizer? [duplicate]

I have seen this on all Boeing test planes, does this provide information on the planes performance?
12
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Why do we complete wing bending tests?

My question is simple.. Why do we need wing bending tests, what can we learn from them and how can this help us evolve the product?
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4answers
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What happens to Flight Testing Aircraft after Testing is over?

Are aircraft used for flight testing typically sold to Airline customers after their use for flight testing is over? e.g. The aircraft shown in this SE Aviation Question: Why are these windows on ...
12
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2answers
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Which aircraft maintenance repairs require a test flight?

14 CFR 91.407 requires an "Operational Check Flight" of an aircraft before passengers may be carried in certain situations: §91.407   Operation after maintenance, preventive maintenance, ...
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Why do the engineers need to be on board during testing?

I just finished watching National Geographic's Megafactories: Boeing 747-8. During the test flights, a bunch of engineers are on board the plane, presumably controlling the water tanks that ...
11
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1answer
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Why is tethered hover testing performed on helicopters?

The KGUC website notes that they have a tether for helicopter testing. From what I can tell this testing has something to do with hot and high conditions, but I don't know what the purpose is of ...
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Why aren't test planes remote controlled?

There was a recent accident where SpaceShip2 broke apart in mid-flight, killing one and injuring another. Given that we can remotely control drones from the other side of the world, why couldn't we ...
10
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What is a "departure" in the context of flight testing / maneuvers?

I was reading about the F-35 flight tests and it mentions a "departure" at a couple of places. What does that word mean in this context? I understand spins and stalls but what's a "departure"? AF-...
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Could the Mars helicopter Ingenuity have been test-flown outdoors at JPL just for the heck of it? (not that they would)

The Ingenuity helicopter that has flown on Mars is designed for roughly 0.01 bar pressure and a colder atmosphere made of mostly CO2. See links (including video) in this answer to What JPL laboratory ...
10
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1answer
625 views

Has the wrong engine ever been mounted after maintenance?

Keeping in mind that a plane can fly with different engine models (e.g. for test purposes), has an error ever happened during normal operations that led to the wrong engine being mounted? Is some kind ...
9
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1answer
525 views

How does ATC control / separate Airbus Industrie test flights?

Airbus is testing a A321 (D-AVXA, flight AIB97XA) around Toulouse this morning. The test is at low altitude, with many speed and altitude changes, including touch and go (maybe rolling slowly on the ...
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2answers
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When did the color orange enter flight test?

When did the color orange enter flight test? As early as the Bell X-1, pictured here, aircraft were painted orange to enhance visibility. Later, in 1959, a study was conducted that suggested the ...
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1answer
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Has there ever been a successful 'bail-out' during an airliner test flight?

Has there ever been an instance of a crew having to 'bail out' during a test flight of a commercial style aircraft (I.e Airbus, Boeing etc)? I know that test flight crews often wear orange suits, ...
8
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1answer
499 views

Who was the first flight test engineer?

The discipline of Flight Test Engineering has existed since at least 1903, but when did engineers identify their work, distinguish their work from other disciplines, under terms that would mark it as ...
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Were there any test flying incidents during which the pilots managed to escape the plane?

I am only asking about flight testing civilian jets, not military ones. I know that all test pilots have to be equipped with a parachute, so I wonder was there any incident where the test pilots and ...
7
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2answers
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What is the purpose of flutter testing?

All I am aware of is that flutter testing involves the aircraft shaking violently. How is a flutter test performed and what is its purpose?
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How do I become a flight test engineer?

I would like to know the whole process to become a flight test engineer (FTE). Do I need to take any FAA specific flight test engineer certificate, apart from an aerospace engineering degree? Do I ...
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3answers
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How do manufacturers/kit providers determine Vne?

Vne defines the maximum indicated airspeed which should not be exceeded. And clearly, doing so would result in "bad things" happening like flutter, etc. Presumably manufacturers do some sort of design ...
7
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1answer
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Why was a complete test flight of Hughes Hercules H-4 (Spruce Goose) never undertaken?

I get that ,the max altitude it was flown to was 70 ft. after its 3rd test taxi.I also am aware that even this was done to prove a point. But,why was there no attempt later on to complete a test ...
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2answers
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How is Maximum Take Off Weight determined?

How would a test pilot determine the MTOW of an aircraft. Does the manufacturer predict this value?
7
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1answer
737 views

Do frequency response / Bode plots for an aircraft or helicopter come from modeling or empirical testing?

I was intrigued while reading an article by this snippet: Examination of the V-22’s frequency response plots (Bode plots) in 2000 showed that the aircraft failed to meet the basic stability ...
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5answers
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How do pilots determine the takeoff distance of an aircraft?

While making a flight plan, depending upon the weight of the aircraft, I'm assuming pilots determine the takeoff distance. How do they do so (is there a formula to calculate the takeoff distance)?
6
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Why doesn't the 747 that is testing the GE9X have winglets?

Why doesn't the 747 that is testing the GE9X have winglets? The news says it is a 747-400, but it doesn't have winglets.
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4answers
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How is engine thrust measured in flight?

When aircraft engines are evaluated in a test flight, how is the thrust of the engine measured? You would need accurate thrust numbers to calculate the real-world specific fuel consumption (i.e. not ...
6
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2answers
571 views

How are special flight paths coordinated with ATC?

I assume they have to enter a flightplan for this or do say just say "it's a test, please clear airspace for us around the complete US"? Still flying and completing the right wing. I would ...
6
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1answer
836 views

Checkerboard painted on fuselage of Boeing test aircraft

What is the purpose of the four square block checkerboard painted on the aft fuselage of Boeing's flight test aircraft? It is either break in markings for fire rescue or some sort of optical ...
6
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What experimental techniques should one employ during cruise flight to determine correct airspeed to fly for max range in a headwind or tailwind?

Theory demonstrates that one ought to increase speed in an headwind, and decrease speed in a tailwind to achieve maximum range. A lengthy discussion on the theoretical solution was answered, though ...
6
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1answer
606 views

Can you identify those parts (sensors), on test aircraft and the purpose?

I have seen many photos with those sensors attached to the test aircraft, Can you provide why they are used and what do they measure? Here is another example on SuperJet:
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What are the different steps to certify a new aircraft in Europe?

I know that to be allowed to fly an aircraft has to be certified by an agency and that this one is not the same for European or American (for instance) aircraft. What are the different steps that an ...
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2answers
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What is the difference between Flight Test and Test Flight?

What is the difference between Test Flight and Flight Test? Are they the same thing or synonymous?
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How much testing to commerical aircraft manufacturers typically do on each new plane after it rolls off the production line?

I just came across an article on Wired about Boeing's new 787-10 where they said the type had been tested for over 5000 hours in a range of conditions. Obviously, the very first model is tested to ...
5
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How many hours of test flight does a general aviation aircraft go through before delivery?

I'm curious if anybody could give any indications as to how many hours of test flight a factory new small general aviation aircraft* goes through before customer acceptance and delivery. (Not initial ...