Flight Test Safety Fact 21-03

If you could travel back in time (something Turbo discusses inside this month’s edition) to continue your work as a flight test professional, but you can’t tell anyone that you are from the future, and further suppose that all you brought with you is your memory, what would you work on? And would it be easier or harder than you think?

I encountered this interesting thought experiment in a blog post that made several profound observations, but one really stood out:  “The idea of taking the output of a function and sticking it back in, over and over, is really simple. But nobody looked into it deeply until around 50 years ago.”

Sometimes we overlook simple ideas.

People have written whole books about why we should not overlook simple ideas.  In this month, however, you will only encounter a short op-ed introducing a simple idea that is statistically rigorous, and it applies to complex and complicated fields alike, including the intersection of artificial intelligence and flight test which continues to emerge.

This month’s editions highlights a formal accident report of an autonomous flying car crash and two more sundry observations from my ongoing survey of flight test news.  Finally, Turbo assigns homework, and the pdf includes three attachments in the paperclip menu of adobe acrobat.

So if you slow down long enough to enjoy this edition, let us know by email.


Mark Jones Jr.

For added convenience and security, you can download the newsletter here.

New Podcast Episode - Do You Know About The No Vote?

Flight Test Safety Committee Podcast Channel – New Episode - Do You Know About The No Vote?

It’s a small word, it's a simple word but it can be a big and impactful word when used.  This month’s focus is on the No-Vote.  We start with Space Shuttle astronauts talking about the Challenger and Columbia accidents and then I will share my experience with the No Vote as a pilot and as a leader.

BTW Did you know you can find our organizations on social media?  Here are a few links you can use to get connected:

FTSC LinkedIn

SFTE LinkedIn
SFTE Facebook
SFTE Instagram: @Societyofflighttestengineers & @sftevp

SETP LinkedIn
SETP Facebook

Listen Now! http://flighttestsafety.org/ftsc-news/flight-test-safety-podcast-channel
Available on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, and Google Play: FTSCChannel

Flight Test Safety Fact 21-01

Happy New Year.  A new page on the calendar gives us a great opportunity to talk about the newest topics in flight test and add to the discussion introduced by Turbo's panel of guests in the last podcast: AI and Autonomy.

How do we conduct a "literature review" for a system with no predecessor? And how do we ensure the lessons we learn in this cutting edge technology get shared in a timely manner? These are the kinds of questions we cover.

But this issue also includes a new look at an old topic: the Build up Approach.  Both articles have already generated a lot of discussion, and we hope they do the same for you.

As always, send us your feedback and ideas.

Mark Jones Jr.

For added convenience and security, you can download the newsletter here.

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-11

How often have you heard the term "Lessons Learned"? If you attended this year's SETP virtual symposium, you heard it a lot.  If you have been in this business for more than a few years, you have heard it a lot.

But how often do we really learn those lessons, and how do we pass on those lessons to the next generation? And how do we prevent the lessons from being lost?

That's a lot of questions, but one thing is for sure--we cover the topic in great depth in this month's edition of the Flight Test Safety Fact.  It includes a paper from SETP and one speaker's related article from a previous edition of Cockpit.  It also includes Turbo Talk, the Chairman's reflections on lessons he has learned about incorporating lessons learned. 

The conversations the Board of Directors has already had around this topic give me hope that you will have many similar, productive conversations.  As always, I'd love to hear your thoughts.

Mark Jones Jr.

For added convenience and security, you can download the newsletter here.

Flight Test Safety Database Update

The Flight Test Safety Database is once again available to everyone at http://ftsdb.grc.nasa.gov/.

Please pass this info on to your colleagues and friends within the flight test community.

Thank you all for your patience and support for the Flight Test Safety Database.

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-09


It seems like just yesterday I opened my email and found that Dave Houle had emailed a personal story about the C-17 first flight.  He watched it from a hill overlooking the field where he worked.  Dave was a distinguished member of SFTE and a founding member of the FTSC.  This past week when the world celebrated the first flight of the DC-10, I thought about Dave's stories again.  We corresponded a lot, but I never met him in person.  Unfortunately Dave passed away earlier this year, but his legacy for mentoring flight test professionals lives on.  Read this month's feature column to hear about the thousands of pages of flight test safety material he archived during his lifetime and the amazing effort of emeritus board member, Pete Donath, to organize and publish it in a useful format.

The careful reader will notice herein a subtle reference to the greatest flight test squadron of all time.  If you disagree, I'd love to hear from you.  Even if you don't, we'd love to hear from you, and you can even contribute to the Houle Collection or suggest ideas for a future edition or podcast.

Mark Jones Jr.

PS For added security and convenience you can download the pdf here

Dave Houle Flight Test Accident Archive

Dave Houle collected historical documentation from many notable aircraft mishaps.  The documentation in this archive ranges from 1929-2011.  Some are anecdotal articles, and others are full accident investigation reports.  We have scanned these into searchable pdf files, available for download.  There is also a rudimentary index of the contents of each file with a brief description of each article.

  1. Review the index to find the incident of interest.
  2. Locate the FT Accident file number (1-8) and page number next in the row of the selected incident to identify which volume contains the summary.
  3. Select the hyperlink of the specified volume, and go to the page number of interest for further details.

In the spirit of sharing lessons learned, if you have similar documentation that you feel will help other test crews, please contact us at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Summary of Accidents Flight Test Accident Index
Flight Test Accidents Part 1 Flight Test Accidents Part 2
Flight Test Accidents Part 3 Flight Test Accidents Part 4
Flight Test Accidents Part 5 Flight Test Accidents Part 6
Flight Test Accidents Part 7 Flight Test Accidents Part 8

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-08

Welcome back.  I needed the break and thank you all for your patience as FTSF took a month off in July.  The pace of life is starting to pick back up and accelerate as we head down hill on the back half of 2020.  

This month's feature weaves together three separate threads that include SETP's Dan "Animal" Javorsek, NASA's Advanced Air Mobility expert Starr Ginn, and a string of airplane crashes in the USAF.  You'll have to scrape off more than the topsoil to find the theme at the root of this column.  If you are the curious type or you are on that last summer vacation, it includes links to other stories and references you can really dig into for more information.  

Also reported this month...The Flight Test Safety Committee Board of Directors has big news--it says goodbye to one member and welcome to another.  

After reading this month's issue, we hope you remember to check out everything the flighttestsafety.org website has to offer, including news about the Flight Test Safety Database--it will be down for extended maintenance.

This month I am asking for specific feedback about the frequency of this newsletter.  Is once a month the right pace, or should we go to every other month? Send feedback about this question or anything that you uncover.

Mark Jones Jr.


PS For added security and convenience you can always download the pdf here.

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-06

What are the chances that important things are happening so fast in our industry, and in so many places around the world, that you missed one of them?

One example is the VTOL Proposed Means of Compliance, a document EASA just published, which takes center stage in this edition.  I propose that reading the document, together with the probabilistic commentary in the article, is a great way to invest in your own professional development and the future of our profession.  One editor suggested that I was not direct enough in the article, but I’ll let you decide.  It also draws together threads from recent news stories that relate closely to the topics herein.

If you missed the virtual Flight Test Safety Workshop, you can now watch most of it online: http://flighttestsafety.org/2020-virtual-workshop.  There is also a trip report from Pete Donath in this month’s edition.  Special thanks to Pat Bearce who also responded to my request for feedback from the Workshop.

Finally, Chairman Tom Huff reflects on recent test safety efforts and major milestones, and he introduces a special guest for the Flight Test Safety podcast.  If you have a mobile phone, it couldn’t be easier to listen anytime and almost anywhere, and while you are there subscribe. 

Tell your friends and colleagues about the podcast, and help us Reach Everyone.  Send suggestions and feedback. We have the means to design a safer future for a novel mode of air transportation, and it starts with rigorous discussion about these ideas.

Mark Jones Jr.


PS For added convenience and security, you can download the pdf here.

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-05

Have you subscribed to the podcast yet? Most of us can walk a mile in 15 minutes.  If you are cooped up at home doing telework, you probably need to anyway, so why not listen to the podcast while you do.  Please subscribe to the new Flight Test Safety Podcast on the Apple or Google podcast app.  You can also navigate directly to the recording in a web browser.  Last, but not least, tell a friend.  Help us Reach Everyone.

Inside this month's issue, the Flight Test Safety Committee cordially invites you to attend the free vFTSW (virtual Flight Test Safety Workshop) and shares the lineup of speakers and topics.  It includes a link to the registration for the workshop. 

Tom Huff also shares resources at the intersection of the novel coronavirus and aviation, explaining where you can find them on our website.  Then he pulls tight on the "bowline of SMS," an analogy from his days as the skipper, but a poignant one reminding us to keep the ball moving downfield in our SMS efforts.

Before you know it, AI will be part of our safety critical systems, and that's what we share in the last column.  There you'll find a brief introduction to a speaker from a recent Symposium:  Megan Burk discussed the necessity to formally and rigorously prepare test and evaluation professionals for aerospace autonomous systems.  She has agreed to allow us to share the video of her talk, and you will find a link to the audio and video herein.

As always, share this newsletter (virtually, so you can maintain the appropriate physical distance) and send questions, comments, or ideas.

Mark Jones Jr.

PS For added security and convenience, you can download the pdf and access the video or audio here.

Flight Test Safety Fact 20-04

I truly hope this newsletter finds you well.  Everyone feels the effects of the crisis that has gripped the world, and as you probably know, the FTSC has postponed the Workshop in Denver until 2021.  You can find out more details inside, in the Chairman's Corner, and it includes his request for your input:  Do you want a remote Workshop? Are you listening to the podcast? What topics do you want to read or hear more about?

Since it's likely you have some extra time on your hands, I've included a more lengthy discussion on a topic that is woven into the fabric of almost everything in this modern age: Big Data.  We collect more data. Our computers can process more data. There is more data.  So what?  That's the question we try to answer inside. 

As always, you can contact me directly by email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

Mark Jones Jr.


For added convenience and security, please download the pdf here.

New Airshow/Display Flight Guidance Document Added Under the Recommended Practices Tab

The Flight Test Safety Committee has added a new Airshow/Display Flight Guidance to our Recommended Practices tab.

Check it out here: http://flighttestsafety.org/recommended-practices