Spotlight – Flight Test Safety Committee Board of Directors

This article first appeared in the May 2015 Flight Test News.

This week, flight test professionals from all over the world convened in Scottsdale, Arizona for the annual Flight Test Safety Workshop. This workshop is one of many services that the Flight Test Safety Committee has provided to the flight test profession since its inception in 1994, when the Society of Experimental Test Pilots, the SFTE, and the AIAA banded together.  The FTSC Board of Directors includes several SFTE members, like John Hed, an FAA employee in Seattle’s certification office. I n addition to providing specific input for this edition’s focus on flight test safety, John agreed to share some more about himself.

FTN: What have you seen in other newsletters or publications that you think FTN should adopt?  
JH: How about a “Lessons Learned” blurb each issue?  Someone could contribute a war story (appropriately sanitized) that had some good lessons learned.  I want to start feeding these into the FTSDb (  In each issue you could ask the membership for some lesson learned from a specific test and publish it in a subsequent issue. 

FTN: If you could give your younger self advice based on what you know right now what would it be? 
JH: Work as many different programs as you can.  Don’t get stuck in a long project forever.  The minute you feel comfortable doing your job,  move on to another challenge. FTN: Yes, because “getting comfortable” is also a sign that we may not be taking the flight tests risks as seriously as we should too.

FTN: On a personal note, if money was no object where would you travel?  
JH: The moon (if that is acceptable), but if it has to be terrestrial, I’d say Machu PicchuFTN: “The moon” is exactly how I answered it the first time, but my wife told me that didn’t count. I have to say that I’ve learned a lot of geography in these interviews, and this looks like a fascinating place too.

FTN: What flight test project would you work on if time, money, and difficulty were not constraints?
JH: A supersonic biz jet turns, if it comes to fruition.

FTN: What critical issues are you currently facing? 
JH: First, the desire to do less flight test because of cost and safety and use more simulation versus the need to thoroughly flight test the product.  There are still lots of areas that the simulator cannot duplicate very well.  Second, with the proliferation of fly-by-wire, the old standard critical condition (e.g., aft cg) isn’t necessarily the worst anymore!

FTN: What practical approaches to flight test make the most sense that are worth sharing with others?  
JH: Plan the flight—fly the plan! Never assume everyone else is doing their job.  If you have the bandwidth, back-up other people around you.

Flight Test Safety Committee

Flight Test Safety Database

This article first appeared in the May 2015 Flight Test News.

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