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A shakedown is a period of testing or a trial journey undergone by a ship, aircraft or other craft and its crew before being declared operational. Statistically, a proportion of the components will fail after a relatively short period of use, and those that survive this period can be expected to last for a much longer, and more importantly, predictable life-span. For example, if a bolt has a hidden flaw introduced during manufacturing, it will not be as reliable as other bolts of the same type.
Most racing cars require a "shakedown" test before being used at a race meeting. For example, on May 3, 2006, Luca Badoer performed shakedowns on all three of Ferrari's Formula One cars at the Fiorano Circuit, in preparation for the European Grand Prix at the Nürburgring. Badoer was the Ferrari F1 team's test driver at the time, while the main drivers were Michael Schumacher and Felipe Massa.
A Shakedown Hike is when a backpacker, in preparation for a long hike such as the Appalachian Trail, Pacific Crest Trail or the Continental Divide Trail, takes their selection of equipment on a shorter backpacking trip with the intention of testing it's trail worthiness. A related term, a Pack Shakedown, is when a novice hiker has a more experienced hiker suggest changes to the novice's equipment, often simply suggesting things to leave out.
Bathtub curve - the engineering concept behind shakedowns.
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