By Nsim Team
To become an aircraft performance engineer, you must first explore whether or not this career suits your interests, personality traits, skills and ambitions. If the following describes you, then this career is right up your alley:
• You have an interest in a career that allows you make use of your natural aptitude in mathematics
• You have the capacity to comprehend advanced engineering principles
• You have a keen interest in the design and development of aircraft
• You have an interest in a well-paying, and relatively stable career
• You have the ability to plan, prioritize and manage projects effectively
• You want to feel like you’re making a significant contribution to an airline’s safety and efficiency
As an aircraft performance engineer, you would be responsible for applying advanced engineering principles to the design and development of aircraft, in order to ensure that they operate at optimal levels, as safely and efficiently as possible.
The most important aspect of becoming an aircraft performance engineer is getting the proper education.
Employers will typically want you to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a related curriculum, or equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to successfully perform the essential functions of the job.
Some employers will want you to have a graduate degree in aerospace, electrical or mechanical engineering, depending on the complexity of the tasks you will be performing, and your level of responsibility within the aircraft performance team.
On top of your education, you will need a certain set of hard and soft skills to excel as an aircraft performance engineer. These skills are typically acquired as a result of your education, combined with any work experience you’ve had in the field. They include:
• A solid understanding of airplane flight characteristics, first-principles analyses and performance methods
• A thorough understanding of fixed wing aerodynamics, propulsion, and performance
• Familiarity with performance design of specific kinds of airplanes
• Able to use computer based tools to analyze airplane performance in specific phases of flight
• Able to effectively analyze flight test data in support of airplane performance database development
• Knowledge of database management programs, such as APEx (Aircraft Performance Explorer)
• Having skills in a second language may be helpful, particularly for working on joint international projects
• The ability to plan, prioritize and manage projects effectively
• Able to work effectively with team members
• Excellent verbal and written communication skills
• Able to anticipate and resolve complex issues in creative and effective ways
• Able to select the appropriate methods, techniques and evaluation criteria to resolve complex issues
If you want to become an aircraft engineer, it will be helpful to have an idea of where you can look for jobs. The following is a general list of the types of organizations that employ aircraft performance engineers on a permanent or contractual basis:
• Colleges and universities (in research and/or teaching capacities)
• Companies that design, manufacture and sell commercial and private airplanes
• Companies that develop flight operations software and tools
• Consulting firms
• Domestic and international airports
• Government departments, such as the Department of Transportation
• The Air Force, and other national defense agencies