Do you have an inner Chuck Yeager that wants to come out? Then you just might be made of the right stuff to become a test pilot. Test pilots are a curious and fascinating group. They want to know how the aircraft flies and why it flies. They are always pushing the envelope and continually looking for ways to improve the aircraft. So, what’s involved in being a test pilot and what benefits does it offer?
The dictionary defines a test pilot as “A pilot who specializes in putting new or experimental airplanes through maneuvers designed to test them by producing strains in excess of normal.”
Sounds pretty exciting and is another way of saying that a test pilot is an aircraft pilot who undergoes extra training to fly and test new and modified aircraft. They carry out different maneuvers on the aircraft and determine if a plane is operating correctly and safely. Then, they suggest improvements to the design. Test pilots are often employed by governments or by the military. Of all pilots, a test pilot's job involves the most risk and hazards and can encounter emergencies which they are expected to handle with skill and knowledge.
There are many types of test pilots including, experimental, engineering, production, and airline.
Experimental and Engineering Test Pilots
Experimental and Engineering test pilots fly newly designed and experimental aircraft to determine if the plane operates according to design standards and, make suggestions for improvements.
Production Test Pilots
Production test pilots fly new planes as they come off assembly lines, and test new planes for airworthiness before turning over to customers.
Airline Test Pilots
Airline Test Pilots flight test airliners after major overhauls before the planes are put back into service. They also flight test new aircraft to make sure they are up to airline standards before the airline accepts them from the manufacturer.
There are two pathways to becoming a test pilot. The first one is through the military where, after years of training in the military, a person can enter test pilot schools. Many applicants serve as military pilots before beginning their careers as test pilots. After finishing their military service, pilots may apply for civilian or government agency test pilot positions.
The second route to becoming a test pilot is to get their training, pilots licence, and hundreds of hours of flying on their own. There are also civilian aviation schools to train non - test pilots to become pilots. There are educational facilities that offer training specifically for test pilots. The National Test Pilot School located in California, is the largest civilian training center for test pilots in the world. Many civilian test pilots work for aerospace industries, governments and certification agencies
Educational requirements vary depending on the type of test pilot. In addition to having a pilot certificate, candidates can be required to have training or experience in basic science, engineering, physical or computer science, mathematics, aeronautics, technical management, and organizational principle is necessary.
Test pilots devote most of their time carrying out test flights, they also spend time in the office planning, developing, designing, and researching test procedures. Also, test pilots must have a good knowledge of engineering because after verifying that the plane can fly, designers and engineers will want feedback on the aircraft’s performance. As a result, they are expected to provide highly technical written and oral reports and materials prepared on flight experiences with recommendations on ways to fix any problems.
While being a test pilot in itself is rewarding, the field offers the potential for advancement to new positions. For example, production and engineering test pilots may advance to the position of Chief Test Pilot. In the case of airline test pilots, they may move up to a position in the airline's engineering or maintenance administrative staff.
Being a test pilot is without a doubt, one of the world’s most thrilling jobs. The minimum starting salary for test pilots is $25,000 but they can earn up to 200,000 per year. With new aircraft being designed as well as new flight systems, the future is bright for these professionals. Now could be the right time to look into this exciting career.
welcome aboard the new airside
We took our community to the next level with an elevated look, innovative features, and new tools.