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Joined: Thu Feb 09, 2012 8:12 pm

Flight Testing Commercial and Military Then And Now

Sun Aug 21, 2016 11:27 am

Thanks to Youtube, Television Documentary's, Books and Magazines, there is a wealth of information out there explaining in general terms, what takes place during a Test Campaign involving a Prototype Aircraft, both Commercial and Military. I thought it would be great to bring together all the links that exist out there that members know of, into one topic that visitors could access at their leisure.

What I am really interested in finding out, is what are the differences both now and then, between the Test Campaigns of a Commercial Prototype Aircraft, including GA, Biz Jets, Large Airliners and especially Helicopters as there is little out there that I know of regarding these unique machines. Then comparing this to Testing Military, Fighters, Transports and Helicopters, including the Aero Engines that power them.

How much does simulation come into play then and now, and how much impact will it have in the future, will it come into play more, negating costly real world testing altogether? Or has been shown in the past, with the development of the B777-200, simulation can't beat real world. For example they ground tested the PW4000 Engine, uncovering no problem, but when they flew it on a B747 flying test bed, an engine surge occurred just after take-off, something that was unexpected, requiring GE and RR to fly their engines as well before the B777 first flight.

Also does anyone have stories of what surprises Test Pilots have encountered during Test Campaigns over the decades, that were close calls, or may have cost them their lives in the pursuit of "Safer Skies".

Does anybody know examples of plane crashes that have since informed or altered the nature of Test Campaigns over the years.

I was also interested in finding out what are the key tests that are carried out on Prototype Aircraft and the logic of the order they are chosen to be carried out, during extended Test Campaigns. For instance in one documentary on the B748, I remember seeing a series of stall tests carried out at high altitude at different flap settings and was wondering why this was done exactly, what data were they trying to gather, and did they need to change weight, from full to empty for each stall test, or could they extrapolate using maths once they had one set of data points.

Are there areas of Aerodynamics that still remain a mystery, that Flight Testing still manages to uncover?

Any info, links, or stories and re-collections of past Test Campaigns, "Operating at the Edge of the Envelope", they have been involved in or know of, and as a result, "Made Flying Safer", would be greatly appreciated.

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