Asee peer logo

Virtual Flight Test: An Effective Pedagogical Approach

Download Paper |


2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


San Antonio, Texas

Publication Date

June 10, 2012

Start Date

June 10, 2012

End Date

June 13, 2012



Conference Session

Aerospace Technical Session

Tagged Division


Page Count


Page Numbers

25.1460.1 - 25.1460.7



Permanent URL

Download Count


Request a correction

Paper Authors


M. Javed Khan Tuskegee University

visit author page

M. Javed Khan is professor and Head of the Aerospace Science Engineering Department at Tuskegee University. He received his B.E. in aerospace engineering from the PAF College of Aeronautical Engineering, Pakistan, M.S. in aeronautical engineering from the U.S. Air Force Institute of Technology, and Ph.D. in aerospace engineering from Texas A&M. His research interests include human factors of training on flight simulators and engineering education.

visit author page


Bruce Edward Heath Tuskegee University

visit author page

Bruce Heath has a B.S. in aerospace science engineering and M.S. in mechanical engineering from Tuskegee University. He also has an B.S. in airway science from the University of Maryland, Eastern Shore. His research interests are in human factors of training and teaching strategies for undergraduate students. He is currently an instructor at the Department of Aerospace Science Engineering at Tuskegee University.

visit author page

Download Paper |


Virtual Flight Test: An Effective Pedagogical ApproachEngineering students need to be exposed to important aspects such as teamwork, time and spacemanagement, planning engineering tasks, operations, analyses of results and presentations. Theseactivities are generally incorporated in capstone design. More recently aerospace engineeringcurricula have incorporated elements of building and flying along with design due to active supportfrom professional organizations such as the AIAA and SAE through their design/build/flycompetitions. However, an important element missing in this ‘product’ development cycle is that ofa formal activity in flight testing. Teaching of Flight Test Engineering (FTE) is part of aerospaceengineering curricula at some engineering schools across the US. For obvious reasons of high costincluding initial investment, continued operating costs and various Federal Aviation Administration(FAA) regulations, most of the aerospace engineering students in the US are not exposed to a hand-on experience in this important field. Availability of low-cost PC-based flight simulation software has proven to be a useful resource toteach aspects of FTE. The ‘virtual’ flight test can also complement the learning of various aspects ofaircraft performance, stability & control. Planning, managing, executing and analyzing data fromsuch a virtual flight test mission provides another opportunity to groom engineering students inthese important skills. This paper describes the integration of ‘virtual flight testing’ in anundergraduate Aircraft Stability & Control course using commercial off-the shelf software andhardware in an immersive flight simulation environment. The students conduct ‘virtual flight tests’to determine various parameters of an aircraft and compare their experimental results with thetheory. The students work in teams consisting of a flight test director, flight test pilot and flight testengineer. The planning, flying, data collection for the purposes of estimating the neutral point ofaircraft is a typical virtual flight test conducted by the students. The development work wasconducted as part of an NSF HBCU-UP grant. This approach is now being used routinely sinceseveral semesters and has been assessed through student surveys to be an enjoyable and effectivelearning approach. The paper provides details for implementation of the virtual flight testingapproach.

Khan, M. J., & Heath, B. E. (2012, June), Virtual Flight Test: An Effective Pedagogical Approach Paper presented at 2012 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, San Antonio, Texas. 10.18260/1-2--22217

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: © 2012 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