Flight testing is a branch of aeronautical engineering that develops specialist equipment required for testing aircraft behaviour and systems. Instrumentation systems are developed using proprietary transducers and data acquisition systems. Data is sampled during the flight of an aircraft, or atmospheric testing of launch vehicles and reusable spacecraft. This data is validated for accuracy and analyzed before being passed to specialist engineering groups for further analysis to validate the design of the vehicle.
The flight test phase accomplishes two major tasks: 1) finding and fixing any design problems and then 2) verifying and documenting the vehicle capabilities for government certification or customer acceptance. The flight test phase can range from the test of a single new system for an existing vehicle to the complete development and certification of a new aircraft, launch vehicle, or reusable spacecraft. Therefore, the duration of a particular flight test program can vary from a few weeks to many years.