Flight Test Safety Fact 19-05: Almost Time For The Annual Flight Test Safety Workshop

It's almost time for the annual Flight Test Safety Workshop, and this issue highlights what's in store. It also includes suggestions for making the most of your visit in Charleston with specific dining recommendations.  

If you are receiving this email, you have a great opportunity to meet people who are not SETP or SFTE members at the workshop and share this resource with them.  This edition also highlights many of the features of the FTSC website and how they complement the Workshop. Additionally, it includes a request from me, your editor, for feedback on the Workshop.

The final column solicits input for a future newsletter topic.  As this newsletter was going to print, I received a note from an editorial reviewer. His comment corrects a statement I made herein, but it also highlights the necessity of the research topic proposed. Here's what he said: "I personally wrote the SMS for the test wing at Pax back in 2008 (hard to believe it was that long ago). That was before it was required for operational and training units in the Navy and Marine Corps… Thank Tom Roberts who convinced me that the FAA AC 120-92 was worthy of consideration. What I don’t know is where SMS stands in our military establishment and in particular, in test and evaluation. I just don’t want us to misspeak if there is in fact some SMS activity out there." I hope you his read his comments and provide your input for this important research too.

As always, we would be delighted to hear from you, whether that's a request to be included on future mailings or even a complaint.  Email This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Mark Jones Jr.

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


FTSF 19-04: Airshows and Landing at Your Own Risk

As promised, this month’s edition of the Flight Test Safety Fact includes an editorial by LCDR Kurt Pfeffer (USCG).  “I had a brief chance to meet Tom Huff as he spoke to our class finishing up at USNTPS (June 2017) and at SETP events, but otherwise haven’t had any other contact with the FTSC.  I’m a former Marine and current Coastie, with a background in C-130, G100, and GV aircraft.” He hopes that you will get a chance to meet at the workshop in May.

In his editorial, Kurt succinctly collates the principles taught by others and describes how he applied them to an “elevated risk, low frequency” situation.  I am delighted to report that editorial reviewers have already praised his column, but sharing this medium with people like Kurt also advances our goal to Reach Everyone.  The outcome of his story is mundane precisely because it wasn’t catastrophic, but his suggestions also weave into the major theme of this month’s issue: Airshows.  

Airshows amaze us and polarize us. 

Over three thousand words have traveled to and fro, here and there, by way of the internet this past week.  Each of these words was the result of the newsletter you are about to read. Many people have reviewed its contents, and two main themes emerged.  One editorial group suggested that I rework the article to emphasize one theme.  Others found the newsletter thought-provoking as is. Both themes are important, but the mere volume of correspondence that these reflections stimulated are my reason for leaving it unchanged and perhaps unfinished.

I don’t know.  

That’s my answer, as you will find many questions in this edition.  Hopefully, a future edition will include some of the letters I received this week as well as an op-ed from those highlighted in the article.  

Please continue to send comments, feedback, suggestions, and letters to the editor to myself or Tom Huff, FTSC Chairman.

Mark Jones Jr.

For convenience and security, download the newsletter here.

There I Was - Flight Test Safety Fact 19-03

In what we can only describe as "serendipity", Flight Test Safety Committee chairman Tom Huff ran into Col Doug "Beaker" Wickert at a safety workshop in California, hosted by Northrop Grumman Corporation.  That meeting set off a series of conversations and emails that led to this month's column from Beaker himself. 

There's an analogy in there about random collisions...about how the collision of atoms can create an enormous amount of energy.  I won't belabor the point, but conversations and differing opinions and dialogue are exactly the outcomes that we intend to create by these short newsletters.  One editorial reviewer said, "Now I want to find out more about STPA."  That's exactly the kind of response for which I had hoped.

There are others letters coming in, and we will print them as soon as we can.  This month features the memories of a pilot who watched the accidental first flight of the YF-16 as the Supervisor of Flying (SOF).  He shares a story from an earlier time, when airplanes had variable sweep wings, and helmets had variable sweep visors.

Finally, you can find out about the FTSW dinner keynote speaker--register now and get the chance to hear a legend.


Mark Jones Jr.

For convenience and security, you can download this edition of the newsletter here.

Accidental First Flights Make Headlines - Flight Test Safety Fact 19-02

January 20th was the 45th anniversary of the accidental first flight of the YF-16.  This phenomenon is not new, but it seems like "some of us" have not learned our lesson yet, with accidental first flights recurring in the closing months of 2018.  Read more in this month's edition of the Flight Test Safety Fact, and then if you know either pilot, send them a copy of this newsletter as we continue to try to *reach everyone.*

This edition also documents more innovations and experiments in flight test safety with a report on STPA--if you don't know what this acronym means, you'll have to read "It Didn't Work", the second feature column in this month's edition. 

Finally, we share some of the great feedback we received from the first edition and the questions they raised.  Please continue to send feedback, suggestions, and requests for future newsletter topics to This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..


Mark Jones Jr.

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

New Guidance Document Added Under the Recommended Practices Tab

Fellow flight test professionals, on behalf of your Flight Test Safety Committee (FTSC), I wanted to direct your attention to a new guidance document added to the FTSC web site under the Recommended Practices tab (http://flighttestsafety.org/recommended-practices).

This guidance document details recommended practices related to the use of recorders during flight test and was prompted by a NTSB Recommendation following the fatal Bell 525 flight test mishap of July 2016. This guidance accommodates the spectrum of flight test operations and the advantages of recorders to enhance flight test safety and execution (underpinned as a test data capture requirement, not just accident/incident causation tools).  The FTSC highly encourages the adoption of the recommended practices within test organization and/or program SOPs and policies.  We welcome any feedback on this guidance at This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it..

In your service,

Tom Huff
Flight Test Safety Committee

New Flight Test Safety Committee Chairman Announced

At the conclusion of the Flight Test Safety Workshop in May, Mr. Jerry Whites announced that after five years of service, he would be stepping down as Committee Chairman. Whites will remain on the Committee and has "passed the stick" onto Mr. Tom Huff.

FTSC Jerry Tom 2017

(L-R) Jerry Whites and New FTSC Chairman Tom Huff

Checklists to Enhance Safety Article

Please click here to read an article by our recent 2017 Flight Test Safety Workshop Tutorial presenters, William Higgins and Daniel Boorman.

Or you may download the full detailed article here.


Flight Test Safety Committee Podcast Channel – New March Episode!

Flight Test Safety Committee Podcast Channel - EP28 - Comments, Cudas, and Crossing the Ocean

In our January podcast I asked for feedback on the pros and cons of simulator mission rehearsals and operationalizing lessons learned. This month I will share some listener feedback along with another real world example of putting flight test skills to practical use. 

Criteria for the Tony LeVier Flight Test Safety Award.

Listen Now!

Available on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, Google Play, and Amazon Music: FTSCChannel

Flight Test Safety Committee Podcast Channel – New April Episode!

Flight Test Safety Committee Podcast Channel - EP29 - Bell V-280 Lessons Learned

This month we talk with Mat McMenemy and Don Grove from Bell about Lessons Learned on the Bell V-280 program and in our look back in history we talk about Neil's Cross Country Flight.

Matt McMenemy is the Verification Manager for Bell on the V-280 / Future Long Range Assault Aircraft (FLRAA) program. 

Don Grove is the Military Chief Pilot for Bell and lead test pilot on the V-280 Valor program.

Bell V-280 Links 
V-280 Valor website: https://www.bellflight.com/products/bell-v-280

Following Historic Development and Flight Test Program Bell V-280 Valor Focuses on FLRAA Competition 

Listen Now!

Available on iTunes, Spotify, Podbean, Google Play, and Amazon Music: FTSCChannel

High Altitude Testing

Many, if not most, FAA Part 25 (Transport) aircraft want to get certified for high altitude airport operations. These operations put challenges on the aircraft in various ways that need to be tested and certified. This includes mainly pressurization systems and engine operations (starting and thermal issues). The FAA allows for 3000’ extrapolation of flight test data. The highest commercial airport is approximately 14,500’ so testing is desired at 11,500 or above. A commonly used major airport test location is at La Paz, Bolivia (13,325’). Testing at high altitudes presents some unique safety issues, mainly physiological, that I will discuss below.

FTSC's response to NTSB's report

In 2012 the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) published its final report on the Gulfstream G-650 accident.   The Flight Test Safety Committee (FTSC) was requested to respond to the NTSB’s recommendations from that report.  Here is the response from the FTSC.