AvMC engineer graduates from Naval Test Pilot School
Brian Fujizawa, right, an aerospace engineer for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center, graduates from the United States Naval Test Pilot School in June 2020. At left is Lt. Col. Rory Feely, commanding officer of the school. (Courtesy photo) (Photo Credit: Courtesy) VIEW ORIGINAL

REDSTONE ARSENAL, Ala. – When it comes to researching and testing the future of Army rotorcraft, Brian Fujizawa has not only studied the science and technology, but sat where test pilots sit, flown in the cockpit, manned the controls.

Since 2009 the aerospace engineer for the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center has devoted his career to supporting the future force, focusing on flight control and handling qualities research, to include Future Vertical Lift, an Army modernization priority.

Fujizawa took his knowledge and skills a step further in 2019-20, when he enrolled in the United States Naval Test Pilot School at Patuxent River, Maryland. He was one of 34 students in Class 157 to graduate over the summer. Because he is not a military pilot – Fujizawa holds a civilian pilot’s license – his certificate is for the test project engineer course, although he completed the same curriculum as the engineering test pilot course.

With 530 academic hours, 100 sorties, 120 flight hours and 25 technical reports to be completed in order to graduate, heading into the program Fujizawa knew time management would be the biggest challenge.

“The joke I heard many times from people who had been there before was that 50% of your day is spent in the classroom, 50% is spent on flying, and 50% is spent on writing. There’s a lot of stuff to be done in a finite amount of time,” Fujizawa said.

Having been involved with flight testing for several years prior to USNTPS, Fujizawa walked away from the experience with a better understanding of what test pilots go through, and how he can better serve them going forward.

“I had flown in the back of a helicopter many times, but a lot of what I took away from this class were some of the aspects that the pilot has always taken care of – the risk analysis and hazard mitigation,” Fujizawa said. “Being the engineer/researcher, the administrative stuff I kind of took for granted, because that was essentially always done for me. I now have a better understanding of what’s going on, and going forward as I’m thinking of tests or research to do, I’ll keep that in mind and not come up with crazy ideas that the pilots will have to jump through a lot of hoops in order to accommodate.”

In his day-to-day work at AvMC, Fujizawa focuses on flight control research, and is working more and more with Future Vertical Lift – the Future Attack Reconnaissance Aircraft and Future Long-Range Assault Aircraft. As he meets with industry partners and discusses their research, he looks for ways to improve on the current Army fleet.

“I try to see if their state-of-the-art technologies can be incorporated in any way into the existing aircraft that the Army already has, or if these are all things that are meant more for the future,” Fujizawa said.

Flight testing
Brian Fujizawa conducts flight testing as part of his job at the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center. (Photo Credit: Courtesy photo) VIEW ORIGINAL

Fujizawa received his bachelor’s degrees in aeronautical science and engineering, and mechanical engineering from the University of California, Davis; and his master’s in aerospace engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. A member of the Vertical Flight Society for more than 10 years, he served on the board of San Francisco Bay Area Chapter from 2012-2018. One of the things he enjoys most about working at AvMC is the breadth and depth of the work.

“When I was in college one of the things mentioned was is if you go work for industry you could get pigeonholed really quickly and it may be several years after doing one thing that you have the opportunity to start expanding a little bit, whereas with the Army, you get thrown right into it. I have enjoyed the wide variety of topics that I have worked on,” Fujizawa said.


The CCDC Aviation & Missile Center, formerly known as the Aviation & Missile Research, Development and Engineering Center (AMRDEC), is part of the U.S. Army Combat Capabilities Development Command, which conducts responsive research, development and life cycle engineering to deliver the aviation and missile capabilities the Army depends on to ensure victory on the battlefield today and tomorrow. Through collaboration across the command's core technical competencies, CCDC leads in the discovery, development and delivery of the technology-based capabilities required to make Soldiers more lethal to win our nation's wars and come home safely. CCDC is a major subordinate command of the U.S. Army Futures Command.