Flight Test Engineer Responsibilities

A flight test engineer is a professional engineer who handles a wide range of duties related to various stages involved in aircraft testing. He/she is responsible for duties like planning, coordinating, managing, and executing a full spectrum of aircraft testing. Thus, he/she is responsible for ensuring that the aircraft designed is safe and fit for flying.

Key Responsibilities of a Flight Test Engineer

The flight test engineer plays a crucial role in reducing the risks and thus adding value to the effective operation of the aircraft that may be used for commercial or military use. The significance of flight test engineers can be realized when an engineer helps in minimizing the occurrence of fatalities in test flying and ensuring that standardized flying techniques are being followed. It is the sole responsibility of a flight test engineer to assess the quality of the aircraft, improving the flight test standards, and its development, so that its operational functionality can be examined. Here is a detailed description of the key responsibilities that need to be handled by a flight test engineer that will help you in getting a better idea:

  1. To explore and test the aircraft whether it meets the standards and to assess its functioning even in the most critical conditions
  2. To obtain accurate and specific details regarding the objective and mission of the aircraft by acquisition of data regarding its operational requirements and other relevant specific details
  3. To plan and coordinate the various aspects involved in the flight testing
  4. To participate in various test phases to determine whether it is meeting the operational requirements
  5. To investigate the issues that have been identified during the testing process, and make efforts to solve them
  6. To analyze the data on the basis of the tests conducted and to produce the test results that contain detailed information related to the scope of the tests, supporting data, methods, results, and recommendations

The flight test engineer manages a database related to system deficiencies and the corrective actions taken to eliminate those technical deficiencies. He/she is involved in providing on site test management, briefing, configuration control, debriefing, etc. He/she ensures the optimal utilization of the concept from inception to progress, and assists in promoting safety and minimizing the hazards related to aircraft and crew members as well. He/she may make recommendations to improve the testing methods, so as to fulfill the test mission requirements. He/she also participates in various meetings, technical exchanges as assigned, conferences, etc. He/she may supervise the other team members and support them in their work. Thus, he/she is accountable for responsibilities on ground as well as those related to on board aircraft.

Essential Skills

A flight test engineer should possess a strong understanding of aircraft designing and testing. He/she should be able to read technical drawings as well as have excellent analytical and interpersonal communication skills. He/she should be able to lead and supervise the team as well as guide them on improving their performance. He/she should be a self starter with strong organization and management skills.

Educational Background

The most simplest way to become a flight test engineer is by completing graduation in aerospace engineering, mechanical engineering, electrical engineering, etc. A master's degree would definitely be preferred. A license from Federal Aviation Administration that includes passing the written test and a demonstrated flight experience of more than 250 hours would prove to be of great help.

Work Hours

Flight test engineers have variable work schedules. Their jobs are generally full time and they may need to work extra if some testing of aircraft needs to be done on a priority basis.

Salary Details

The average starting salary for a flight test engineer is $60,000. However, those with experience in a similar profile with demonstrated track record of success would get a salary in the range of $145,000 to $151,000. It is equally dependent on various other factors like education, skills, etc.

Career Prospects

The demand for flight test engineers is definitely going to increase with the increasing number of occurrences in fatal incidents. The job opportunities will be on rise, thus assisting you in developing and advancing your career to greater heights.

Thus, to become a complete professional flight test engineer, you should be able to shoulder the flight test engineer responsibilities effectively and efficiently.

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