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Experiences in academic flight testing education

Lorenzo Trainelli (Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Alberto Rolando (Department of Aerospace Engineering, Politecnico di Milano, Milan, Italy)
Giovanni Bonaita (AgustaWestland S.p.A., Cascina Costa di Samarate, Italy)
Paolo Chimetto (Alenia Aermacchi S.p.A., Venegono Superiore, Italy)

Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology

ISSN: 0002-2667

Article publication date: 1 January 2014




The paper aims to detail the educational flight testing activities performed at the Department of Aerospace Science and Technology at the Politecnico di Milano (DSTA-PoliMi), including the development of low-cost, reliable flight testing instrumentation (FTI) and the administration of the graduate course in flight testing.


The flight testing course program closely adheres to the typical content of an introductory course offered in a professional flight testing school. However, within academic courses, it has a unique feature: each student is required to plan, perform and report on a real flight test experience, acting as a flight test engineer. Educational activities in this framework have been successfully matched to applied research and technical support for private companies.


At the educational level, several elements arise that are rarely concentrated within a single course, such as multidisciplinary integration, individual conceive-design-implement-operate (CDIO) project, real-life experimental procedures and techniques, teamwork, communication and reporting, relation with non-academic partners.

Practical implications

Based on the development of a FTI system for light aviation and on the flight testing course, DSTA-PoliMi has built a solid capability in flight testing, introducing graduate students to this specific niche of expertise and empowering co-operation with companies in the light aviation environment, while offering capabilities and tools that are typically regarded as a prerogative of major aerospace companies.


The paper discusses an original approach to flight testing education in an academic setting that avoids the high costs and complexity connected to certified aircraft flight operations and instrumentation, nevertheless allowing the achievement of significant results, also in applied engineering research.



The authors gratefully acknowledge the co-operative support of senior colleague Cesare Cardani, Professor at the Dipartimento di Scienze e Tecnologie Aerospaziali, Politecnico di Milano.


Trainelli, L., Rolando, A., Bonaita, G. and Chimetto, P. (2014), "Experiences in academic flight testing education", Aircraft Engineering and Aerospace Technology, Vol. 86 No. 1, pp. 56-66.



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Copyright © 2014, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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