Test flying – who should do it?

You have spent hours on your plane getting it to the point where you are ready to see it fly. Hours of blood sweat and tears, in some cases. Or maybe you have purchased a kit partially/almost finished with just a few things to tweak it to how you want your machine to be. Either way, you are ready for your ‘baby’ to begin to soar. So, who should be the one to take it on its maiden flight (and those that follow)?

“….unless you are a seriously well qualified and experienced pilot – or in an ideal world a test pilot – with time on type, don’t do it…!!” The first element here is pure technical capability – flight handling, looking for issues, managing any issues etc. The other element is around the “emotional connection” – for example, a builder test flying the aircraft may well have their clarity of thinking affected when it comes to tough, or indeed, emergency decision making.

This is the advice of John Smith, as he offers an insight to his maiden flight experience which occurred after he investigated how to approach test flying. John attended a Sports Aviation Association of Australia (SAAA) Maintenance Procedures Course some years ago, which included a presentation on test flying run by Fred Moreno and Shirley Harding.

testflyIn his article, ‘Test flying – who should do it?‘, he discusses his own competent approach (flying under supervision with a more experienced-on-type pilot, Peter Yates) but alerts us to things his inexperience on type missed – but which fortunately, Peter was more alert to. And how they were able to avoid major issues.

John continued to have Peter join him for further test flying for some time. His article also reflects on statistics from the ATSB which compare accidents and levels of experience, and hours on type.

Follow the link to his article, to see more detail. It makes interesting and thoughtful reading.

(As always your comments and questions are most welcome – click on the icon near the title.)

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