Learning Aerospace Through Flight Testing
Flight Test Academy is a set of video-based instruction accompanied with a study guide that shows teachers, parents, and students how to experience firsthand, a successful STEM project based on meaningful flight testing that can be offered to junior high and high school teachers for incorporation into their classrooms. The basic project consists of using a desktop flight simulator conducting a series of takeoff flight tests where students determine takeoff distance correlating results with different variables such as gross weight and flap setting. Advanced students can explore other independent variables such as temperature, altitude, winds and use kinematic equations to determine distance.
2021 SFTE Symposium in St. Louis, MO
Ready to get started?
To launch into Flight Test Academy, you will need the following:
- Laptop/desktop computer and a mouse.
- An internet connection
- X-Plane software, free demo available, see below.
- Spreadsheet software or graph paper to plot data, see below.
- X-Plane: https://www.x-plane.com/desktop/try-it/older/ (PC, Mac, and Linux)
- DatPlot (a free data plotting software): http://www.datplot.com/download/ (PC only)
Units and lessons
|Unit||Lesson||Description||Lesson Outlines||Video Material|
|0. Administrative||0-1 Project Introduction||An introductory video that describes Flight Test Academy and outlines the syllabus, supplies required, resources, and contact information.||Flight Test Academy Introductory Video|
|1. Basic Takeoff Testing||1-1 Introduction to FT Engineering||Lesson 1-1 is the introduction to flight test engineering that describes the reason for flight testing and the role both flight test engineers and test pilots perform.||Intro to Flight Test Engineering||Intro to FTE Video|
|1-2 Airplane Anatomy||Lesson 1-2 provides a basic understanding of the parts of an airplane, nomenclature, and cockpit instrumentation familiarization.||Airplane Anatomy||Airplane Anatomy Video|
|1-3 Airplane Forces||In Lesson 1-3, the concepts of forces are introduced starting with balanced and unbalanced forces. From there airplane forces and their corresponding units are described.||Airplane Forces||Airplane Forces Video|
|1-4 X-Plane Basics||Setting up X-Plane and giving a demonstration of a takeoff test is done is included in Lesson 1-4.||X-Plane Basics||X-Plane Basics Video|
|Student Learning Outcome (SLO)||The intended learning outcome of Unit 1.||Unit 1 SLO|
|2. Advanced Takeoff Testing||2-1 Kinematic Equations||Lesson 2-1 starts a new unit of Advanced Takeoff Testing that starts with describing displacement, velocity, and distance. The kinematic equations to determine distance are introduced.||Kinematic Equations||Kinematic Equations Video|
|2-2 Forces of Flight Takeoff Test Planning||Lesson 2-2 goes deeper into understanding the forces of flight, particularly lift. Lift is introduced and the lift equation is described.||Forces of Flight||Forces of Flight Video|
|2-3 Takeoff Data Recovery and Analysis||Creating industry-standard time history strip charts from the recorded flight test data is presented in Lesson 2-3.||Data Recovery and Analysis||Data Recovery and Analysis Video|
|Student Learning Outcome (SLO)||The intended learning outcome of Unit 2.||Unit 2 SLO|
|3. Climb Testing||3-1 Drag Climb Test Planning||The important concepts of drag, both induced and parasitic as well as the drag equation are introduced in Lesson 3-1. Test planning is also covered.||Climb Testing||Climb Testing Video|
|3-2 Drag Data Recovery and Analysis||Lesson 3-2 describes the analysis of drag testing that results in the best climbing speeds and introduces how to create a test report.||Data Recovery and Analysis||Data Recovery and Analysis Video|
|Student Learning Outcome (SLO)||The intended learning outcome of Unit 3.||Unit 3 SLO||Climb Test Data|
|4. Cruise Testing||4-1 Cruise Test Planning||Cruise flight testing is described in Lesson 4-1.||Cruise Testing||Cruise Testing Video|
|4-2 Cruise Data Recovery and Analysis||Lesson 4-2 describes the analysis of cruise testing that results in the best lift/drag ratio and maximum range.||Data Recovery and Analysis||Data Recovery and Analysis Video|
Data Recovery and Analysis Video
|Student Learning Outcome (SLO)||The intended learning outcome of Unit 4.||Unit 4 SLO||Cruise Test Data|
|5. Capstone Project||5-1 Capstone Project||Lesson 5-1 introduces a real live aircraft cargo operation as a student project where students use their flight test data to develop an optimum flight plan.||TBD||TBD|
|Student Learning Outcome (SLO)||The intended learning outcome of Unit 5.||Unit 5 SLO|
|6. Extensions||6-1 Modify Airplane Wing in PlaneMaker||TBD||TBD||TBD|
|7. Cessna 172 POH||Pilot Operating Handbook||The Pilot Operating Handbook for a Cessna 172.||POH|