Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer

Design and install instruments that take readings during test flights.
picture of Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer

Quick Stats

Salary Range
$61,000 – $143,000

Data from U.S. Department of Labor

What do Flight Test Instrumentation Engineers do?

Engineers look for solutions to problems. If you’re a Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer, you work to identify potential problems with systems on planes, jets, helicopters, or other aircraft. When you consider the size and complexity of an aircraft, you’ll see how involved this process can be. That’s why a Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer works with a team of Engineers, Pilots, and Flight Test Instrumentation Technicians who all have their eyes on the same goal—safety.

After all, the last place you want to have any problems is 30,000 feet in the air. So each plane is thoroughly tested in aspects ranging from handling to radar systems. Since not every vibration and bit of friction can be witnessed by the Test Pilot, your job as the Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer is to create gauges, cameras, and other devices that record data during test flights.

While the plane is still on the ground, you design and develop measuring devices that take temperature, noise, altitude, navigation, and maneuverability readings. Then you hard-wire the devices into place, and send the Test Pilot into the clouds. When he or she returns, you collect and analyze the information gathered by the instruments you designed. This information is pivotal in gaining a clearer picture of how the aircraft is functioning.

This is a job that requires an acute attention to detail. Test flights are an expensive part of the research and development process that new or altered aircraft all undergo. So to make it all worthwhile, you make sure your equipment gathers the maximum amount of information on each flight.

Should I be a Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer?

You should have a bachelor's degree or higher and share these traits:
  • Detail Oriented: You pay close attention to all the little details.
  • Persistent: You keep pushing through, even when faced with tough obstacles.
  • Logical Thinker: You take a step-by-step approach to analyze information and solve problems.

  • Also known as: Aircraft Instrument Engineer, Flight Analyst, Flight Controls Engineer, Flight Systems Test Engineer See More

    How to Become a
    Flight Test Instrumentation Engineer

    Most Flight Test Instrumentation Engineers have a Bachelor's degree. Chart?chd=s:aga9la&chl=|certificate+%288%25%29||bachelor%27s+%2877%25%29|master%27s+%2814%25%29|doctorate+%281%25%29&cht=p3&chs=466x180&chxr=0,0,77
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