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How do I become a Flight Test Engineer

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How do I become a Flight Test Engineer

Old 16th Jun 2013, 00:25
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How do I become a Flight Test Engineer

Hi,

I am currently in my second year of Aerospace Engineering Degree at Queen Mary University of London.

I want to become a Flight Test Engineer in the future, however I really need to know what to do, what to study at post-graduate level and what stages I need to get through before I become a Flight Test Engineer.

I really need someone to enlighten me.

Thank you
moein nikgohar is offline  
Old 16th Jun 2013, 19:53
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GipsyMagpie
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QinetiQ

Only ones I know have been grown through manufacturers or test companies. Best way I can see is join one as engineer then apply from within to become FTE. For example I think QinetiQ may be hiring.
 
Old 16th Jun 2013, 22:28
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A good aero degree is an obvious start - which you're doing.

The next thing, in my opinion, is that you want flying experience. It generally doesn't matter what in - light aeroplanes, gliders, microlights are all fine (and helicopters, if you're rich, or gyroplanes, if you have a deathwish!).


Then it's very much a case of getting a bottom level job somewhere with an FT department: Qinetiq, AgustaWestland, and BAeS Military are the three main employers in the UK at the moment with large FT departments, and all have good graduate training schemes which *can* lead in from the bottom. And by and large nobody goes into flight test anywhere above the bottom.

So basically you want to position for a graduate training post in the first instance, and then once you're in there, for a junior position in flight test. Neither is easy, and competition will be stiff - but somebody has to get there. There will be elements of luck, and very much of ability, but determination is a massive factor.


In the short term, in my opinion, there are three things that you can do to help yourself position for where you want to be:-

(1) Get some flying experience. Money will be tight, but try the university gliding club as likely the cheapest option.

(2) Join SFTE as a student member. (See SFTE Home ) [And try and get to some lecture(s) or symposia, ditto RAeS flight test group, who usually hold their meetings in London.]

(3) Try and position to do your individual dissertation with some flight test content. This may mean sweet-talking an appropriate lecturer, and most likely some significant legwork yourself, but will be massively useful when it comes to job interviews in 1-2 years time.


Postgraduate study *might* help, but probably only if you can't manage to get onto a graduate scheme and into a big FT department at the bottom. If so, the best bet is either the Cranfield Flight Dynamics MSc or the NTPS Masters in Flight Test in Mojave - but neither is cheap.

G

Last edited by Genghis the Engineer; 16th Jun 2013 at 22:35.
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Old 16th Jun 2013, 23:40
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Thank you both for your wonderful replies, this has been a great help which I fully appreciate.

My financial situation is not very stable so I wont be able to pay large sums for flying lessons. Do these companies that train engineers for FTE offer free training? or do they charge you?

Moein

Last edited by moein nikgohar; 17th Jun 2013 at 01:13.
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 08:05
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Once within a graduate scheme you can expect to be adequately paid, and any specialist training paid for. But, getting yourself into that scheme will need investment of time, energy, and some money.

G
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 12:04
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Suggest in addition,you will also need an EASA qualification;google `uktps.co.uk` for further information and contact..
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Old 17th Jun 2013, 12:24
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Originally Posted by sycamore View Post
Suggest in addition,you will also need an EASA qualification;google `uktps.co.uk` for further information and contact..
I disagree.

EASA is moving to some form of FTE and TP licencing, but everything indicates that FTE licencing (and particularly this new concept of a "lead FTE" - an FTE authorised to operate controls in flight, will be built upon company in-house training and approvals, not external EASA licencing.

Not to say that UKTPS isn't a good organisation who provides valuable training, but they are basically providing it for existing staff of large aerospace companies, not private individuals.

G
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Old 20th Jun 2013, 23:17
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As someone who is currently on an MSc course with significant overlap with that of MSc Flight Dynamics at Cranfield (and getting pretty desperate for that first job), let me be the first to advise you to have a backup discipline/specialisation to fall back on.

To my knowledge, there is no aircraft company in the UK apart from Augusta Westland that do significant amounts of civil flight testing (and they only do helicopters).

Of the military manufacturers, BAe Systems run a generic Aeronautical Graduate Scheme where I think the placements are rotational over the period of the graduate scheme. After the scheme ends you may/may not be placed in a function related to flight test engineering.

Qinetiq have had a long history of flight testing, but to my knowledge the organisation has dialled down its flight test activities over the past couple of decades (others here are undoubtedly in a better position to confirm/strongly deny this). I have seen an advertisement for a graduate flight test engineer on their website, but only once, and I think they normally recruit graduates onto the graduate scheme, much like BAe.

Another company worth mentioning is Marshall Aerospace, who sometimes take on graduates with flight physics/flight dynamics experience.

Overall, the number of graduates that go straight into a specialised flight test role is close to 0. Of those who do eventually go into flight test, it can often be a case of luck and a position in that department opening up at the right time. We are talking of very small numbers.

My advice to you is to finish off your undergraduate to MEng level, and concentrate on applying for a graduate aerospace scheme/job. You will find today that ANY graduate role with one of the big aerospace companies is an almost momentous achievement in its own right. For each graduate job there are hundreds of applicants.

Flight physics and flight dynamics (which forms a large part of flight test) in my opinion aren't disciplines which are particularly in demand. (At the moment structural and stress engineers are required especially, as well as manufacturing engineers. And the salaries are pretty good too.)

In my opinion don't bother doing these specialised MSc programmes in Flight Dynamics/Flight Testing until you have worked for several years in an aerospace company. As a fresh graduate they will be expensive and not particularly transferable to other jobs should you become desperate for work.

Sorry to sound pessimistic, I only want you to be aware of the reality out there in the job market. I have spent all year applying to jobs thinking that a prestigious MSc course from a prestigious university (for aerospace that is!) will open doors for me, when in fact relevant work experience and (especially in the case of flight test) luck are probably more important.
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 01:52
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Money will be tight, but try the university gliding club as likely the cheapest option.
Surely the UAS (ULAS) would also be a good option?
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Old 21st Jun 2013, 19:34
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Originally Posted by 212man View Post
Surely the UAS (ULAS) would also be a good option?
Unlikely to be an option to somebody presumably late in their second year.

G
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Old 23rd Jun 2013, 08:04
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jeanlucpicard,

Intrigued by your comment about hundreds applying for each graduate position. At the last place I contracted (a certain well known landing gear manufacturer) then there still seemed to be a shortage of Engineering graduates from the UK; hence a small number of graduates from overseas were recruited.
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Old 24th Jun 2013, 11:41
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It tends to be a shortage of suitable graduates...
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Old 24th Jun 2013, 12:00
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It's mainly luck

i know several persons involved in Flight testing here in the South West, virtually everyone of them has said it's all down to being luckily in the right place at the right time....

Qualifications can be from in house Apprenticeships (then onto BSc) up to MSc levels, but most of the training seems to be 'on the job' (certainly outside QQ).

I suggest you keep persistent and keen but it is a very small community in the UK (Genghis has stated that there are 'large' FTE communitites in the UK, for that read less than 20 for any one company, we are not talking hundreds of jobs out there)

good luck with the hunt

DM
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Old 24th Jun 2013, 13:45
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Fair comment dangermouse. Large = big enough to notice.

That said, you are in 3-figures at Boscombe and Warton. But probably nowhere else.

G
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 13:22
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Flight test engineer

My question is same. how to become FTE as I am persuing Aeronautical Engineering and now I am in 3rd year. If I join flying club and acquire PPL, will it be sufficient?
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Old 1st Sep 2014, 15:04
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Flight testing is a global community - just substitute Indian equivalents for all the European companies and organisations in the thread above, and you won't be far wrong.

G
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 08:16
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but if i do bachelor's degree and PPL., is it sufficient for FTE?
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Old 2nd Sep 2014, 13:54
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Read the posts above ! Simple answers don't really exist here.

Some of us started as a junior in a FT department at that level of formal qualification, but the reality is a lot more complex than*just* that. For a start a strong and demonstrable interest in flight testing is pretty valuable!

G

Last edited by Genghis the Engineer; 3rd Sep 2014 at 11:57.
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Old 3rd Sep 2014, 10:57
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Read the posts above ! Simple answers don't really exist here.
I can attest to that. Over 20 years since graduating and still trying...
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Old 4th Sep 2014, 03:59
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Don't forget that any company's Flight Test will consist of many more engineers and flight scientists than FTEs. The majority of our FTEs have been one or the other before joining Flight Ops. Remember too that Flight Test is very much an international community such that the actual country where you may be employed can be far from where you trained. Apart from the usual Edwards, Pax River, Cold Lake & EPTS graduates, our team includes engineers from as far afield as Morocco, Egypt, Nepal, India, Sri Lanka, Germany, France & Brazil and we're in the American Mid-West!
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