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Mark Macleod

Testing Times? Insights from Experimental Flight Test

Mark Macleod

The presentation will use the prism of the experimental flight test arena to explore parallels between aviation test and dental professionals. It will offer insights from a 15 year career preparing, conducting and supervising experimental test flights and training flight test professionals. Using practical examples of mistakes and near misses, it will show how a ‘Just’ aviation safety culture, Human Factors training and crew resource management skills are vital components in the management of risk and the successful completion of highly complex test sorties.

Learning Objectives

  • To gain an awareness of the parallels between the medical/dental and the aviation experimental flight test environment
  • To understand how highly trained, small, self-selecting professional ‘elites’ can be vulnerable to disruptive behavioural traits
  • To understand how test professionals approach risk management to ensure successful and safe outcomes
  • To reflect on the ‘Just’ safety culture in aviation and its principles of open and honest reporting
  • To gain an awareness of Aviation crew resource management and its applicability to your profession


Commander Macleod has served in the Royal Navy for over 30 years. An experimental helicopter test pilot and qualified Air Engineer Officer, he completed a BEng(Hons) at the Royal Naval Engineering College. Awarded his pilot “wings” in December 1996, he is a graduate of No 41 Rotary Wing course at the Empire Test Pilots’ School, a member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots and has completed over 3000 flying hours in 32 different aircraft types.

As an experimental test pilot he was responsible for the management, planning, supervision and safe execution of complex helicopter trials and flight test activities, directing and mentoring 12 test pilots in delivering the UK’s rotary wing test programmes.

He is also graduate of the Canadian Forces College, Toronto, where he was required to master the dark arts of ice hockey, and has served as the Commanding Officer of the Empire Test Pilots’ School, one of only four recognised test pilot schools in the world.

In 2014 he joined the project team building and bringing the Queen Elizabeth Class aircraft carriers into service, the largest warships ever constructed in the UK. He was awarded the Pooley’s Sword in 2016 for making the most significant contribution to the development of Carrier Strike capability. Concurrently acting as the Chief Naval Test Pilot, he is responsible for the regulation, approval and assurance of all aviation T&E activity undertaken within the RN.

Recently selected for promotion to Captain, he deploys to Iraq in May 2020 to act as Deputy Commander Task Force (Air), mentoring, supporting and developing the Iraqi Air Force.

Qualifications: Royal Navy BEng(Hons) tp