Asee peer logo

Teaching Flight Test Engineering With A Pc Based Simulator

Download Paper |


2001 Annual Conference


Albuquerque, New Mexico

Publication Date

June 24, 2001

Start Date

June 24, 2001

End Date

June 27, 2001



Page Count


Page Numbers

6.945.1 - 6.945.7

Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors

author page

Hubert Smith

Download Paper |

NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 3202

Teaching Flight Test Engineering with a PC-Based Simulator

Hubert C. Smith The Pennsylvania State University


This paper describes the process of establishing flight test laboratory experiments by use of a PC-based flight simulator, and the details of conducting such experiments. It was determined that it was feasible to perform airspeed calibration, and tests to determine stall speed, power required, rate of climb, cruise speed and range. While some of these tests yielded data that were a little on the optimistic side, the results were consistent, and provided theoretically predicted trends. Smooth curves could be fitted to the data. This approach to a flight test course proved to be quite effective. The reports were similar to those submitted when the same tests were performed in flight. While not quite as satisfying to students as when they got to fly all the experiments, they seemed happy to be able to learn real flight testing techniques. A number of graduates were able to secure flight test engineering positions in both industry and government activities.

I. Background

In 1963, the Aeronautical (now Aerospace) Engineering Department at Penn State University obtained a Piper PA-28-160 Cherokee from Piper Aircraft on a lease agreement for $1.00 a year. The next year, a flight test engineering course was launched. Students were divided into groups of three for the laboratory portion of the course, and each week they were scheduled for an in- flight lab session. Experiments were conducted in the following topics:

1. Airspeed calibration 2. Stall speed measurement 3. Power required and drag determination 4. Climb performance and ceiling prediction 5. Takeoff distance 6. Static longitudinal stability and neutral point 7. Dynamic longitudinal stability

The course was taught by a qualified pilot, who also acted as the test pilot/lab instructor for the flights. This arrangement worked well, because it carried over the lecture material into the cockpit environment. It also allowed for three students to be carried in the 4-place airplane, which seemed to be the ideal crew size. One student could read the instruments, one could do timing, if it was required in the experiment, and the third could record data. No special instrumentation was added to the aircraft.

Proceedings of the 2001 American Society for Engineering Education Annual Conference & Exposition Copyright c 2001, American Society for Engineering Education

Smith, H. (2001, June), Teaching Flight Test Engineering With A Pc Based Simulator Paper presented at 2001 Annual Conference, Albuquerque, New Mexico.

ASEE holds the copyright on this document. It may be read by the public free of charge. Authors may archive their work on personal websites or in institutional repositories with the following citation: © 2001 American Society for Engineering Education. Other scholars may excerpt or quote from these materials with the same citation. When excerpting or quoting from Conference Proceedings, authors should, in addition to noting the ASEE copyright, list all the original authors and their institutions and name the host city of the conference. - Last updated April 1, 2015