All members of SETP will strive to perfect professional integrity, excellence, and accountability.
The objective of the SETP Code of Professional Ethics is to educate and guide SETP members on the ethical professional conduct necessary to meet what the SETP Constitution calls “the moral obligation of the test pilot.”
Developmental test and evaluation of an aerospace system occupies the difficult ground between the motivations and constraints of business and the ethical obligations of the flight test professional. Test pilots enter this environment with a very unique perspective, coming from the diverse science and engineering practices of aviation and the rarified skills of the operational aviator. To meet their professional moral obligation, test pilots must effectively apply their unique perspective and skills during the development of aerospace systems.
It is human nature to treat one’s intuitive understanding of ethics as manifest and irrefutable, in spite of the plain evidence that our sense of ethics is heavily influenced by upbringing, environment, and education. Entering the environment of flight test demands education on the ethics of the profession, or at least the reiteration of those ethical principles tested most directly by the challenges of flight test. The SETP Code of Professional Ethics seeks to capture the ethics lessons repeatedly learned by flight test professionals.
Hold paramount the safety, health, and welfare of the end-user, passenger, and public. The work of a test pilot centers upon the development of aerospace systems intended for a greater purpose, beyond personal edification. While there may be personal risk required to accomplish this work, its primary purpose is to reduce the risk to others. From the safety of passengers on commercial aircraft or crewmembers on combat aircraft, to the effectiveness of a combat system and the unnecessary hazards it might present to non-combatants, test pilots are intuitively aware that their work demands placing the safety of the public and end-user above their own.
Deliver accurate results and objective conclusions. Valid flight test is essential for the research and development of aerospace systems. Nature is deaf to our hopes and predictions. Given that perfect accuracy is impossible, results should be presented with an accurate representation of their precision. Conclusions must be objectively based upon the results to minimize the influence of preconceived notions. Only accurate results and objective conclusions can be trusted to create recommendations that will ensure flight test efforts will have their necessary impact.
Reject bribery, fraud, and corruption in all forms, including conflicts of interest. Corruption puts personal gain above honor, ethics, and mission. It amounts to intentionally presenting false information and willfully endangering the safety, health, and welfare of the end-user, passenger, and public.
Properly credit the contributions of others. Failure to give credit where due is a form of theft. More subtly, it can provide a façade of expertise, leading others to overestimate the expertise of the thief and give the thief’s word undue trust. On the other hand, crediting the work of others creates an environment where test pilots can leverage the trust that they have truly earned.
Treat all persons fairly, based solely upon their words and deeds. We are all capable of succumbing to prejudice and allowing inconsequential differences to hide valuable contributions. Prejudice shrinks the world and narrows one’s vision. This also applies in the cockpit and flight test environment, where there is no room for dismissing reasonable opinions out-of-hand based solely on the station of the source.