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

Flight testing refers to those activities on an aircraft for the purpose of gathering data or demonstrating compliance. These activities evaluate aircraft performance, flying qualities and aircraft systems. Furthermore, these activities evaluate human performance in aircraft and study research questions related to aviation, aircraft-human interface, and other scientific investigations.

Flight testing is often separated into three primary categories, based on the content of the data and objective of the test.

  1. Experimental flight testing or research - answering scientific and engineering research questions;
  2. Developmental flight testing - preliminary testing that demonstrates compliance with airworthiness regulations; often followed by certification flight testing, a subset of this kind; and
  3. Production flight testing - testing to demonstrate that an aircraft manufactured by an Original Equipment Manufacturer (OEM) meets its intended design and function.

Flight Testing is usually conducted by specialized personnel, including test pilots and flight test engineers.