Flight test engineers are responsible for multiple aspects of the maintenance and use of aircraft. They monitor nearly every aspect of flight, including space flight, rotary wing flight (helicopters), and fixed-wing flight. They also monitor pilots closely and work with them to ensure a safe and smooth flight for the passengers.
Flight test engineers typically work indoors in airplanes, usually up to ten hours per day or as many as eighteen. Flight test engineers work very closely with airplane staff to make sure everything is running smoothly, and the typical work environment is a team-based effort to ensure all planes, helicopters and space shuttles are working properly. Their on-the-job responsibilities involve sitting behind the copilot in the cockpit and ensuring that all valves and levers that must be flipped or pulled are fixed for the pilots who can’t reach them.
Flight test engineers also do pre-flight and post-flight inspections in the cockpit and around the plane to make sure everything is ready for the following takeoff. Flight test engineers also control the air conditioning, heating and oxygen safety controls.
Those in this position typically have a degree in Aerospace Engineering, Cognitive Science, Electrical Engineering or Mechanical Engineering. Employers typically require a Bachelor’s degree in two or more of these fields.
Flight Test Engineer Tasks
Test new aircraft components, equipment, and aircraft models.
Develop mathematically-driven improvements based on performance and customer and safety requirements.
Collaborate with other flight test engineers to generate reports and deliver findings.
Analyze the design, performance, and testing data to identify areas of weakness and pinpoint improvement strategies.