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An Integrated Curriculum Design for Teaching Flying Qualities Flight Testing

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2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Seattle, Washington

Publication Date

June 14, 2015

Start Date

June 14, 2015

End Date

June 17, 2015





Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session 2

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Page Numbers

26.193.1 - 26.193.15



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Paper Authors


M. Christopher Cotting United States Air Force Test Pilot School

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Dr. Chris Cotting is the Master Instructor of Flying Qualities at the United States Air Force Test Pilot School. During his professional career he has also worked for the NASA Dryden Flight Research Center and the Lockheed Martin Skunkworks. He has worked on numerous experimental aircraft projects including the X-43A and X-43C, X-35, and X-33. He has a B.S. and M.S. in Aerospace Engineering from Mississippi State University, and a Ph.D. in Aerospace Engineering from Virginia Tech. He is an Associate Fellow of the AIAA, where he serves on the Atmospheric Flight Mechanics Technical Committee as the Chair of the Flying Qualities Subcommittee.

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An Integrated Curriculum Design for Teaching Flying Qualities Flight Testing  The United State Air Force (USAF) Test Pilot School (TPS) has undergone a transition of themethods used to educate future experimental test pilots and flight test engineers. The school nowgrants its graduates a Master of Science in Flight Test Engineering, moving its focus away fromtraining and more towards education. The Flying Qualities phase of the school, which teachestypical aerospace engineering topics has undergone a significant redesign to facilitate educationon a graduate level. Originally designed to be a curriculum based on memorization ofmnemonics followed by flight training skills, the new curriculum teaches basic as well asadvanced aerospace engineering topics coupled with a focus on metacognition.While a typical Master’s level graduate degree often takes 18 months to 2 years to complete, thegraduate program at USAF TPS is accomplished in just 11 months. This compressed schedulerequired a very rigorous and disciplined approach to creating the new curriculum. Due to thenature of the school requiring both educational as well as training outcomes, new learningobjectives were created that mix learner centered, knowledge centered, and assessment centeredlearning objectives. These objectives were written with a focus on learning outcomes tied toBloom’s Taxonomy so that students and staff can read the objectives and then be prepared forany assessment exercise. Implementation of these learning objectives required a mixture ofpedagogies including problem based learning, group based learning, peer to peer learning, andindividual learning. In order to ensure that student’s time at TPS was maximized an integratedprogram was established with learning objectives that track student learning with a resolution ofeach hour of student engagement.Assessment of recent graduates has shown an increased level of learning across a broad array ofsubjects. Not only have students gained a deeper understanding of the fundamental conceptsbehind aircraft flight test, but they have also been able to develop critical thinking skills requiredto evaluate the safety of a flight test program. While the students may not be subject matterexperts in any given field, they are capable of critically evaluating technical reports to ensuretechnical adequacy. This critical evaluation skill is a direct result of metacognition skillscoupled with technical knowledge learned at UASF TPS. This paper will highlight the designstrategy for this new curriculum and report on some of the early results from its implementation.

Cotting, M. C. (2015, June), An Integrated Curriculum Design for Teaching Flying Qualities Flight Testing Paper presented at 2015 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Seattle, Washington. 10.18260/p.23532

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