Editor’s note: WigB wrote this response when asked to review the article Better than Lessons Learned.

I don’t think I completely agree with your conclusion. When I was a project pilot I deliberately found all the information I could on the subject at hand and I found it made a difference in the test planning in the same way that Kreeper discussed. It also made a huge difference when it came to the Technical Review Board and the Safety Review Board and being able to instill trust in leadership that we have reduced all the reducible ignorance we can and thought through the most likely and most dangerous “what ifs.” This research also lead to simplified and trimmed down test plans and safety plans because it resulted in original writing and not a bunch of copy/paste that fills pages but add little meaning to the plans. The above level of effort requires that Combined Test Force leadership and and Special Project Officer leadership provide enough time and autonomy to the test team to let the deep thinking planning to happen AND allow for the “learning” during a test to adjust the plan as it goes.

I do agree that the people perspective is vital. Speaking and bringing experienced people to the test are great value. I would argue we need both.

SCIPR’s Response
I am actually delighted that we don’t completely agree. After rereading the op-ed and rereading your comments, I think we have some big areas of agreement though.

You use several phrases that I think are “well outside the scope” of the phrase “literature review.” The big one, in my opinion is this: “thought through the most likely and dangerous “what ifs.” Thinking. Slowing down to create enough margin in life (and schedule) to think deeply.

Literature Review, strictly speaking, is NOT about thinking. Literature Review, I think, threatens to become a checklist step: people will do a quick database search and feel like they have accomplished THE step in the process. I wonder how many times flight test professionals have stumbled over the truth during their “literature review” process. “Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing had happened.” The word “hurry” in Churchill’s quote is the problem, and it appears in stark contrast to what YOU suggested in your email. Slowing down and being thoughtful.

Once we do a literature review, we need to think about how to apply stuff to our unique situation.
But literature review WON’T answer all the questions, and we need to slow down to “think through the most likely and dangerous what ifs.”

If you listen to academia, you will hear them say “IT IS BROKEN.” So why are “we”, the flight test profession, spending so much time trying to be like academia and even use their terms, like Literature Review.

AI will NOT solve the problem that talking to humans CAN fix. Talking to humans will NOT solve the problem unless the humans have time to thoughtfully consider…

All that to say this:

  1. I do think researching the past is a very important step.
  2. I do think the term Literature Review is lazy and plagiarism (from academia which is a bad place to steal from).
  3. I do think your email is spot on in the way it identifies what we DO need: thoughtfulness.


WigB’s Final Response
It’s debate like this that I think helps move us forward, the more of us that engage and decide to do things differently. It can be tough to find the time to do so, or people feel like they are too small to make a change to such a large organization. What if we had a flight test debate forum in which the outcome changed AFIs, regs, etc., right away? Kind of going back to my organization argument.

Hope your holidays have been great and have a happy new year.

Copyright © 2018