Flight Test Academy

Learning Aerospace Through Flight Testing

An introductory video to Flight Test Academy, a series of video-based instruction for aerospace STEM projects that explore flight testing engineering.

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

Click here to view Dan Hrehov’s Symposium Presentation on Flight Test Academy

Click here to view the Flight Test Academy Paper

Click here to view the Flight Test Academy study guide!

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.

Downloadable software:

Units and lessons

UnitLessonDescriptionLesson OutlinesVideo Material
0. Administrative0-1 Project IntroductionAn 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 Testing1-1 Introduction to FT EngineeringLesson 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 EngineeringIntro to FTE Video
1-2 Airplane AnatomyLesson 1-2 provides a basic understanding of the parts of an airplane, nomenclature, and cockpit instrumentation familiarization.Airplane AnatomyAirplane Anatomy Video
1-3 Airplane ForcesIn 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 ForcesAirplane Forces Video
1-4 X-Plane BasicsSetting up X-Plane and giving a demonstration of a takeoff test is done is included in Lesson 1-4. X-Plane BasicsX-Plane Basics Video
Student Learning Outcome (SLO)The intended learning outcome of Unit 1.Unit 1 SLO
2. Advanced Takeoff Testing2-1 Kinematic EquationsLesson 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 EquationsKinematic Equations Video
2-2 Forces of Flight Takeoff Test PlanningLesson 2-2 goes deeper into understanding the forces of flight, particularly lift.  Lift is introduced and the lift equation is described.Forces of FlightForces of Flight Video
2-3 Takeoff Data Recovery and AnalysisCreating industry-standard time history strip charts from the recorded flight test data is presented in Lesson 2-3.Data Recovery and AnalysisData Recovery and Analysis Video
Student Learning Outcome (SLO)The intended learning outcome of Unit 2.Unit 2 SLO
3. Climb Testing3-1 Drag Climb Test PlanningThe 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 TestingClimb Testing Video
3-2 Drag Data Recovery and AnalysisLesson 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 AnalysisData Recovery and Analysis Video
Student Learning Outcome (SLO)The intended learning outcome of Unit 3.Unit 3 SLOClimb Test Data
4. Cruise Testing4-1 Cruise Test PlanningCruise flight testing is described in Lesson 4-1.Cruise TestingCruise Testing Video
4-2 Cruise Data Recovery and AnalysisLesson 4-2 describes the analysis of cruise testing that results in the best lift/drag ratio and maximum range.Data Recovery and AnalysisData Recovery and Analysis Video
Part One

Data Recovery and Analysis Video
Part Two
Student Learning Outcome (SLO)The intended learning outcome of Unit 4.Unit 4 SLOCruise Test Data
5. Capstone Project5-1 Capstone ProjectLesson 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.Capstone ProjectCapstone Project Video
Student Learning Outcome (SLO)The intended learning outcome of Unit 5.Unit 5 SLO
6. Extensions6-1 Modify Airplane Wing in PlaneMakerTBDTBDTBD
7. Cessna 172 POHPilot Operating HandbookThe Pilot Operating Handbook for a Cessna 172.POH

Reference files

Flight Test Academy Units 1 and 2 Study Guide