What is an FTE / Flight Test Engineer?

FTE stands for fight test engineer.  The best place to start in our search for a definition of an FTE is with the Society of Flight Test Engineers (SFTE).

In fact, the SFTE has created a document that explains the qualifications of a flight test engineer in their forum and other places on their site, sfte.org. Another open source definition with references is incomplete, but it is provided here.

This does not, however, give us a working definition of a flight test engineer (FTE). A simple definition is as follows:

FTE: an engineer with a background in both aerospace and aviation operations who plans and performs flight test activities and collect data during FTTs (flight test techniques).

Another way to define what an FTE does is by observing where they work:
1. Control Room — observation and monitoring of test execution and data collection

2. Cockpit — test execution and data collection

3. Cubicle — where the engineer, planning, and reporting take place

Here are 3 links to FTEs and the work they do.
1. What is SFTE? Includes video of an FTE interview and video of FTEs in the back of an Airbus during first flight

2. What is the 418th Flight Test Squadron? Includes description of the combined test team (including FTEs) and videos of their flight test programs

3. Profiles of FTEs — this link is a pinboard dedicated to profiles, posts, and photos of flight test personnel.

Enjoy this video from Bombardier about the work of an FTE.


Don’t just imagine your dreams–explore them, because we need you. The aerospace industry needs innovators. The flight test community is looking for the next Neil Armstrong, and that’s what this column is about, helping you take that next small step.

Thanks for reading Launch Your Flight Test Career #20. Send a message to @FlightTestFact on Twitter to ask questions about launching your flight test career.

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