The official land-speeds record (measured over a mile) is 1,227.985km/h or 763.35mi/h. The record was set by Andy Green in ThrustSSC (a turbofan jet powered car) on the 15th of October 1997, in the Black Rock Desert, Nevada USA.

When taking on a challenge like breaking the land speed record there are many key considerations; firstly and most importantly the drivers safety. Secondly developing a vehicle that has the ability to move fast enough to break the land speed record.

To make a successful attempt at breaking the record it is vital that there are clearly defined requirements gathered. The requirements include all the considerations for a successful attempt at the record. The requirements are broken down into functional and non-functional. Functional requirements should be gathered by subject matter experts to ensure the requirements gathered are accurate. High-level functional requirements when trying to achieve the land speed record in a motor propelled vehicle include; an engine powerful enough to beat the current land speed record, the vehicle must be aerodynamic to reduce drag (drag is friction caused by air), also required is a functional and practical cockpit to aid the driver in pursuit of the record and most importantly a vehicle that is safe for the driver.

Once the requirements are successfully gathered a plan can be initiated to roll out the development of the vehicle. The plan will include a testing phase and although each phase of the project serves a purpose, the testing phase is crucial to ensure the original requirements have been met. The test plan should be derived from the functional specifications (functional and non-functional requirements doc). When testing a vehicle designed to break the land-speed record, the tester is essentially responsible for ensuring the vehicle has hit all the requirements as specified in the functional doc, in other words; the engine has enough power to move the overall weight of the vehicle fast enough to break the record; that the vehicle’s shape will allow air to pass over and around it to reduce drag which will maximize efficiency on the engines power output; And most importantly that the driver is safe and that disaster recovery procedures are in place and more importantly they work.

Before an official land speed record attempt can take place, the test manager must ensure all the planned test cases have passed. Any failed tests must be addressed, resolved and retested before the testing phase can be signed off. The purpose of testing is to minimise the risk of overall project failure. Risk on projects vary in terms of impact, but when attempting to break the land-speed record the risk can potentially include fatalities. So there is a lot of pressure on the test manager to conduct the appropriate tests to ensure everything is working as it should. At the end of the day when it all boils down to it, it is the driver’s life at stake.

This is only a small taster of the spec of requirements and testing required for such a complex project but it highlights the inseparable relationship between, requirements gathering and testing. For example; if you build a go cart, any rational person would try it on the flat before taking it to St. Patrick’s hill in Cork City to compete in Redbull soapbox race. Although, there is always an exception (Evel Knievel, springs to mind), the risk taker in this case is the driver who has the burning desire or in this case a “Need for Speed”. Don’t get me wrong, we need risk takers. In business risk takers are generally the entrepreneurs and are crucial for economic development, for innovation and social/ cultural development, unfortunately that’s a topic for another day. So, I will close by saying; test test test before you go live, because that’s how to ensure the driver arrives alive.


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Author:                Arron Keenan

Role at Aspira: “PMO Lead