Phase One Flight Testing

Once an experimental aircraft is inspected and granted an Airworthiness Certificate, it comes with a set of Operating Limitations. These set out the special rules and regulations that the plane must adhere to in order to keep the certificate.

If you’re interested in seeing what they look like you can view mine.

One of the most important pieces in the limitations is the definition of Phase 1 flight testing, found in Section 15 of my document. This requires the plane to be flown for 40 hours confined to a specific local area, and with only the minimum flight crew required. So basically it is me, and I am stuck, in my case, to a 10 x 10 mile box north of the field.

I could whine here that this is possibly the smallest Phase 1 test area ever known, my friend in Canada has over 200 miles, I know others with 300 miles; it seems the standard is 25. Part of this seems to be because of all the restricted zones around me, and there was a concern about me flying over large populated areas (sorry Calipatria you must not matter because you are in my box).

The idea is that the 40 hours are spent inside the box expanding the flight envelope of the plane, and determining performance numbers etc. The FAA has an excellent advisory circular on how this should be done, and I plan to use this as the basis for my testing once I’m past the “holy frack, I’m flying” stage.

To this end I’ve added a new statistic to the box on the right – how far away I am from the end of Phase 1. I may take some time off work to get this down some or it could take the rest of the year with only weekends available. We shall see.

After the 40 hours has been flown off, I can enter phase 2 which is mostly like any other airplane, I can go wherever I am equipped to go, take whoever is not too afraid to come with me…

This Saturday I will readjust the propeller pitch, I’m going to take two more degrees out and see what that gives me and then hopefully if the weather cooperates I can get some more flight time on Sunday. No flying in true crosswinds this time, though.

It is still sinking in that I have a flown a plane that I built.