Date of Award


Degree Name

MS in Aerospace Engineering


Aerospace Engineering


College of Engineering


Aaron Drake

Advisor Department

Aerospace Engineering

Advisor College

College of Engineering


This document contains the details of a study conducted to determine an effective performance flight test approach specifically for small Unmanned Aircraft Systems (sUAS). This was done by taking proven procedures and documentation from the FAA and the Air Force for manned aircraft and tailoring them specifically for use with sUAS flight test programs. A ‘sUAS Flight Testing Handbook’ was created from the proceedings to aid commercial organizations and recreational developers conducting sUAS research without access to flight test experience. A performance flight test program was conducted with the AeroVironment RQ-20 Puma sUAS using the developed approach to verify that the ‘sUAS Flight Test Handbook’ was effective at guiding the test program safely and effectively. The development of the handbook, the results of the Puma Flight Test Program (PFTP), and the instructional ‘sUAS Flight Test Handbook’ itself are detailed throughout this report. The handbook includes a set of recommendations developed from experience with the PFTP that apply to both commercial and recreational developers of sUAS. A set of documentation is also provided in the form of instructional templates that plan the test program, report the results, and allow sUAS performance flight testing to be carried out safely and effectively.