Flight Testing

The Howard Aviation team conducted a significant amount of flight testing of  the old landing gear, the new landing gear, and significant tests of each on a dynomometer in order to understand the problem at hand and refine designs for the new assembly.

Flight testing of the old landing gear occurred in order to understand the amount, or lack thereof, of dampening displayed in the gear.  A string pot was attached to the landing gear assembly and displacement data was recorded during the testing (see below).  The data was collected during taxi, takeoff and landing operations.  Data was collected from a number of takeoffs and landings in order to determine a baseline dataset for the old landing gear.  As can be seen on the graphs in the Test Data section, there is virtually no dampening taking place with landing gear even though the landing recorded was a near perfect “greaser” landing.

Flight testing was then conducted on the new landing gear assembly using the same methodology as that with the old landing gear.  The dampening recorded with the new landing gear assembly demonstrates a marked difference from the old landing gear (see Test Data).  The graph below was selected for an example because the subject landing was considered a somewhat rough landing, with a skip (approximately point 707), yet full dampening was observed with the data after the initial skip through bringing the tail down to a three-point position.

Additionally, because of the stability of the new landing gear, strong crosswind operations were conducted during the testing.  Below is a photo of the test aircraft taking off in a strong crosswind (one wheel takeoff), yet the improved ground handling made such an operation a very stable maneuver.

Once the above data was collected with the new landing gear, Howard associates test flew the landing gear over several months under various weather, wind, weight, and runway conditions.  Each of the takeoffs and landings were recorded in a logbook along with handling characteristics and testimonies from various pilots.  In excess of 100 takeoffs and landing were recorded in the logbook prior to presenting the data to the FAA for review.