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FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

Federal Government - Pilot - FAA Flight Test Pilot

Experimental or 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 fly new planes as they come off assembly lines to make sure they are airworthy and ready to turn over to customers. Airline test pilots flight test airliners after major overhauls before the planes are put back into service. They also flight test new aircraft to be sure they are up to airline standards before the airline accepts them from the manufacturer. Test pilots for the FAA fly planes with experimental equipment aboard to test performance of the equipment, or they fly FAA planes to check the performance of ground-based navigational aids, radar, and runway lighting.

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Position Description

FAA flight test pilots check the airworthiness of aircraft through inspection, flight testing, and evaluations of flight performance, engine operation, and flight characteristics of either prototype aircraft or modifications of production aircraft and aircraft components that are presented for FAA type certification. They supervise flight-test designees and participate in investigations of accidents and violations of the Federal Aviation Regulations.

An interesting alternative to working in the private sector is a career in government. Many highly responsible aviation positions are to be found in the FAA and other Federal agencies. In addition, state and local government agencies are involved in aviation.

Among its many functions in aviation, the FAA is responsible for controlling the movement of aircraft throughout the nation, establishing and maintaining electronic navigation aids, licensing pilots and aircraft mechanics, and certifying the airworthiness of aircraft. A major source of aviation careers lies in jobs with federal, state and local government agencies.

Civil aviation careers in the Federal Government for men and women are found within the Department of Transportation, Federal Aviation Administration; the Civil Aeronautics Board; and a growing number of other Federal departments and agencies. All of these aviation jobs come under the Federal Civil Service, and wage scales are determined by Congress, which, from time to time, adjusts the pay levels to bring them in line with comparable jobs in private business and industry. Salaries for Federal Civil Service employees are established into two chief categories: General Schedule (for those employees who perform administrative, managerial, technical, clerical and professional jobs and who are paid on an annual basis) and the Federal Wage System (for those employees who perform jobs associated with the trades and crafts and who are paid wages on an hourly basis).

Most Federal Civil Service employees in the aviation field are covered by the General Schedule and their salaries vary according to their grade level (GS-1 through GS-18). Within each of the grades provided in the General Schedule, provision is made for periodic pay increases based on an acceptable level of performance. With an acceptable level of competence, the waiting period of advancement to steps two, three and four is one year, steps five, six and seven is two years, steps eight, nine and ten is three years.

Forty hours constitutes a normal work-week. Additional payment (called premium pay) is made for shift work involving duty between 6 o'clock p.m. and 6 o'clock a.m. and for work during Sundays and holidays. Merit promotions are awarded under provisions of a Civil Service approved merit promotion plan.

Most federal employees under Civil Service participate in a liberal retirement plan. Employees earn from 13 to 26 days of paid annual vacation, depending upon the length of service, and 13 days of paid sick leave each year. Health insurance, low-cost group life insurance, credit union service, and compensation and medical care for injury on the job are other benefits offered.

The largest number of aviation jobs found within the Federal Government (outside the Department of Defense) is with the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) of the Department of Transportation. The FAA, with a total of approximately 47,000 employees, is charged with the administration and enforcement of all federal air regulations to insure the safety of air transportation. The FAA also promotes, guides and assists the development of a national system of civil airports. The FAA provides pilots with flight information and air traffic control services from flight planning to landing.

Working Conditions

The experimental test pilot must expect the unexpected. The plane is tested to the limits of its design strength and performance capabilities. Test pilots sometimes encounter emergencies, which they are expected to handle with skill and knowledge. They prepare written and oral reports on their flight experiences and may fly during either the day or at night. Airline test pilots often work at night or on weekends, since that is when most aircraft are serviced.

This employee flies new types of aircraft under all kinds of conditions to test their performance. Considerable travel is required and his or her duty station may be changed from time to time as circumstances require.

Typical Requirements and/or Experience

Three years of general experience as a pilot or co-pilot in any civilian or military major aircraft operation is required. Also required is one to three years of special experience in the aircraft manufacturing industry or in the military or civil service of the Federal Government as a flight test pilot, aeronautical engineer or flight test engineer. The special experience must include engineering flight testing of experimental types of aircraft or the solution of technical engineering problems at a professional level. The pilot must have experience in obtaining and evaluating flight data related to flight performance, flight characteristics, engine operation, and other performance details of the prototype or modifications of production aircraft. Experience as an instructor in engineering flight testing of aircraft is also required. The higher entry grades require completion of a flight test pilot course, such as a military flight test school or the FAA flight test pilot course. College study in aeronautical, electrical, electronic or mechanical engineering, mathematics or physics may be substituted for some of the general experience requirements. He or she must have a first class FAA medical certificate plus 1,500 to 2,000 hours of flight time, a commercial pilot license, and single engine, multi-engine and instrument ratings. She or he must pass physical exams at regular intervals to retain the job.

Education

Flight training with advanced training at a military flight test school may be obtained in the military service. Flight training through commercial pilot's license with appropriate ratings may be obtained from private or school-connected flying schools and institutes. A college degree in aeronautical engineering with flight training is preferred.

Marital Status

Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.

It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.

Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:

All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;

Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;

All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;

Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.

Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.

Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.

EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.

Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/

Wages and Benefits

Most Federal Civil Service employees in the aviation field are covered by the General Schedule and their salaries vary according to their grade level (GS-1 through GS-18). Within each of the grades provided in the General Schedule, provision is made for periodic pay increases based on an acceptable level of performance. With an acceptable level of competence, the waiting period of advancement to steps two, three and four is one year, steps five, six and seven is two years, steps eight, nine and ten is three years. The starting grade is normally GS-7. Trainees are paid while learning their jobs.

The entry level is GS-9. Entrance salary will vary with the degree of the applicant's experience and training.

Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.

Where the jobs are and who hires

Experimental and production test pilots are employed at all aircraft manufacturing plants, which are located mainly in California, Washington, Kansas, Texas, Georgia, Oklahoma, Maryland, Missouri, Florida, New York, Pennsylvania, and Connecticut. Airline test pilots work wherever the airlines have overhaul bases. The largest bases are in San Francisco, Miami, New York, Tulsa, and Kansas City.

Opportunities for Advancement

The flight test pilot may progress to branch chief positions in the engineering or manufacturing areas. An administrative post with respect to all FAA flight test pilots at FAA Headquarters or perhaps an assignment with the Federal Aviation Administration Test Center (the research and development arm of FAA) may provide opportunities for an administrative flight test engineering job.

Engineering and production test pilots may advance to the position of chief test pilot. Airline test pilots eventually may advance to the airlines engineering or maintenance administrative staff.

Outlook for the Future

The demand for engineering and production test pilots will fluctuate with the development and production of aircraft. Over the next decade the production of aircraft is expected to increase.

The aviation industry has gone through periods of tremendous success and innovation, and periods of intense challenges. Today, aviation plays a critical role in our economy and the future of aviation will depend on business and personal travel, aviation fuel costs, and government subsidy and intervention.

Avjobs.com is the premier resource for your career in the aviation and aerospace industry. More aviation companies use Avjobs.com than any other service. Our system is updated daily with the latest job openings. View our latest system statistics in 13 job categories.Whether you are changing jobs or changing careers, you have come to the right place. Your future in aviation can be found at Avjobs.com!

Training

Flight training with advanced training at a military flight test school may be obtained in the military service. Flight training through commercial pilot's license with appropriate ratings may be obtained from private or school-connected flying schools and institutes. A college degree in aeronautical engineering with flight training is preferred.

To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.

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FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

FAA Flight Test Pilot Career Overview

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