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SFTE Reference Handbook 3rd edition

The SFTE REFERENCE HANDBOOKS are now PRINTED and look great!

All paying and lifetime members are entitled to one free copy. To set yours aside, contact Executive Director Margaret Drury at sfte@sfte.org or 661-949-2095 and she will earmark a book with your name. You can do this anytime.

To actually receive your book, either

  • Pick it up at SFTE Headquarters: 44814 N. Elm Avenue, Lancaster, CA
  • Ask Headquarters to bring your copy to the next symposium and hand to you or a designee.
  • Ask Headquarters to mail to a U.S. or Canadian address and arrange paying the $5 postage cost - either separately or with your next membership renewal (due about now).
  • Ask your chapter President or other local leader to be a focal point to receive and distribute a batch of earmarked books. This should reduce costs and give a good reason to meet.

The SFTE Tech Council doesn't have sufficient funds to ship so many books at its expense, but will subsidize costs over $5.  The TC has set aside separate funds to support handbook printing for the European Chapter. Margaret will work with any member willing to pay postage to an overseas address.

Questions, corrections, or additions to the handbook content should go to the TC Chairman, sfte@alawless.com.

The SFTE Technical Council

Technical Council Services - Updated Feb 2013

The Technical Council (TC) charter is to promote Flight Test Engineer (FTE) professionalism, improve technical communications among members in all related FTE fields, and provide forums for discussing flight test technology issues. We address these timeless goals via services to individual members, corporate sponsors, and the general flight test community. As a volunteer organization, our greatest effectiveness lies in providing services that capitalize on the SFTE's international "honest broker" position whose only agenda is to advance our profession. Subjects of interest can be brought to any TC member or chairman sfte@alawless.com

To meet ours objectives, the TC provides nine services stemming from three broad areas:

Technical Standards Information Networking Training
  • Standards Committee
  • Reference Handbook
  • Symposium Presentation Judging
  • Technical Expert Database
  • Workshops
  • SFTE Digital Forum
  • Micro Courses
  • Flight Test Technology Notebook

Each service is described and updated below.

Standards Committee

Description: The TC stands ready to form ad hoc Standards Committees to address any concerns about flight test technical standards such as sign conventions, measurement units, parameter names, nomenclature, and abbreviations. Confusion and waste often occur simply because no “authority” took the initiative to gather & weigh inputs then institute standards. The committees do not address universally accepted standards, but rather those needing attention in our profession. While SFTE has no real authority to force adoption of its standards, establishing them does allow global participants to reference our benchmark. Anyone can submit standards ideas or opinions for consideration.

Update: All existing SFTE standards are published in the SFTE Reference Handbook. The TC received no external submittals recently. 

  1. An internal initiative in 2009 was generating a FTI Mnemonics "Best Practice" Recommendation for defining flight test instrumentation parameter names and certain specifications (i.e. sample rate, accuracy, resolution). After considerable investigation, the TC tabled this effort. The advent of convenient database applications with the ability to search via full description, shorthand names, or parameter ID numbers negated the need to harmonize mnemonics. At this time, industry does not need or support the effort.
  2. A major effort in recent years coming under the Standards classification has been providing guidelines for determining FTE qualifications. The intent of this guideline is to provide all FTEs and managers a framework for discussing typical FTE roles and KSAs (knowledge, skills, abilities). It provides suggestions for giving "credit" for direct & indirect experience and training. Every FTE can measure career progression and managers can justify training costs. The latest version of the resulting worksheet and a short explanation is posted on the SFTE forum under "FTE qualification".
  3. The SFTE Board of Directors recently tasked the TC to look into options for setting up a system to provide FTE certification. Unlike the mandatory certification expected to be implemented by EASA for "Lead" FTEs , this would be voluntary. Anyone can view or participate in the discussion being posted on the SFTE forum at the same address noted above.

We invite participation for any part of this effort. Contact sfte@alawless.com

Symposium Presentation Judging

Description: The TC also helps maintain & improve technical standards indirectly by judging presentations at annual SFTE symposiums. Our criteria change with the times and are explained to each presenter upon acceptance of the paper. For technical presentations, we evaluate significance, applicability, innovation, and credibility. For program overview or operations presentations, we evaluate applicability, novelty, and applied metrics. Enjoyment, applicability & accuracy are factors for casual historical talks. We guide all presenters to improve timeliness and skills such as delivery, structure, and relevance. As there is no standing committee for this task, we usually have new judges each time and the TC regularly invites your help judging one or more sessions.

Update: The TC successfully implemented its revised presentation judging criteria that allows each hosting chapter to readily sort  score sheets by whatever filters they like (e.g. best of session, best overview, historical, technical, etc.)

Technical Expert Database

Description: Our Technical Expert Database is a simple & easy path for networking. This is a collection of contact information for specialists in flight test-related fields (e.g. flutter, flying qualities, radar, data link, instrumentation, all-weather testing). The intent is to connect members with experts who can assist with quick answers, finding resources, or by just pointing them in the right direction. These professionals also have opportunities to review potential SFTE publications & standards. You can ask anything, but must accept that experts cannot share proprietary or security-sensitive information. Often this exchange can lead to new business opportunities for the expert's organization. Anyone can nominate any technical expert (SFTE membership not required) by contacting sfte@alawless.com.

Update: The Tech Expert database is at the SFTE website under the Members Only "Technical Resources" tab. It's a living document, always ready for more nominations. Look for an invitation to sign up as a technical expert in each year's membership renewal form.


Description: Spring workshops are a classic service spelled out in the TC charter. To ensure direct benefit to our corporate sponsors, these are short, highly focused, inexpensive, and informal forums on specific topics. Be it related changes in technology, safety, best practices, or whatever, the TC pursues workshops that aren’t already being addressed in other venues. We always invite members to suggest workshop topics that address challenges - whether on a current program or something more strategic.

Update: Due to competition for participant's time & money, the TC will shift gears towards hosting virtual workshops. Ideas for future years include Simulation Integration with Flight Testing, Virtual Flight Test, FT management software, strategic scheduling, and working with UAV airpsace.

SFTE Digital Forum

Description: A forum is an internet-based venue for people to communicate with others who "tune-in" to the same forum. Forums have become exponentially more popular over the last few years, and people are beginning to look for highly specialized websites such as ours. The SFTE digital forum (as opposed to workshops & symposium forums) has separate chat areas for fixed-wing, rotary wing, and general flight test discussions.

Update: We've recently expanded the main topics areas to break out discussions for STEMs and FTE Qualification. The TC will conduct increasingly more business on forums, but everyone (including non-members) need to participate to bring the activities to "critical mass". From the SFTE home page, simply go to SFTE Forums link at the header. It's designed as a service to our profession, so take advantage of it - start or answer a conversation thread!

Training Courses

Description: Micro Courses are those 1-8 hour sessions conducted prior to annual SFTE symposia or workshops. The TC works with each hosting chapter to plan courses, locate instructors, and obtain feedback. Depending on availability & needs, the TC also coordinates somewhat longer 2-3-day “mini” courses such as Hypersonics for Flight Testers. TC-sponsored classes do not compete with offerings from other training sources, but rather fill the voids for specialized training not available elsewhere. We always invite your ideas for providing or receiving instruction on any flight test-related subject.

Update: SFTE continues to post all offerings on the website and via direct emails to members.

Training Course Reviews

Description: This service is a web-based posting of course critiques provided by students after attending any flight test-related training session. The TC collects critiques, filters responses, and posts recent reviews on our website for your review before selecting your next course. Simply go to the Training Course Reviews link in the gold (open to anybody) “Services” section of our web page and fill out a simple form online. This service can only be as good as the inputs, so we urge everyone to submit critiques after every training session!

Update: The TC suspended this service due to lack of participation.

Digital Notebook

Description: The Digital Notebook is the third leg in our training triad. This is a free-form website available only to members and is the place for all material outside the Reference Handbook’s scope. Previously published papers; short, how-to memos; detailed textbooks; or links to other sites are all invited for posting. Current material includes introductions to a few aspects of flight test engineering and papers too small for symposia publication. To use this, simply go to the Digital Notebook link in the blue (members-only) “Technical Resources” section of our web page and select a subject from the index. The TC continuously locates material and reviews submissions before posting, but we always need your contributions - on any subject, at any depth, Please submit additions directly on the forum or to sfte@alawless.com

Update: The DN is active and its index is exhaustive. Populating it is the responsibility of SFTE members. It remains your responsibility to contribute articles for the benefit of your colleagues. Sharing is the whole point of belonging to a society!

TC Summary

TC Services available to anyone are website links to

  • SFTE Digital Forum
  • Technical Expert Nomination

TC services available only to SFTE members are website links to

  • Reference Handbook
  • Tech Expert Database
  • Digital Notebook

Other TC initiatives addressing Standards, Presentation Judging, Workshops, and Training soldier on purposefully. The Technical Council always invites contributions, feedback, participation & requests from anyone. Simply contact Chairman Al Lawless at SFTE@alawless.com. Representatives for each chapter can be found on the 'SFTE Technical Council Contact List' page.

The SFTE Technical Council meets in-person at the annual symposium and meets via teleconference at 1100 Eastern time on the third Wednesday of every month. Everyone is welcome to dial in at the new number. 
1-888-406-0412 (Toll Free) or 1-214-765-0466 (Toll), Pass Code: 2458465