Collecting data high in the sky while enduring high-g manoeuvres in a PC-9 was a new experience for eight female engineers. The engineers took part in a two day camp to learn more about what life would be like as a Flight Test Engineer (FTE) with Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU).
ARDU has a distinguished history of testing new aircraft types and cutting edge systems, and they are searching for the next generation of FTEs to fill the ranks.
Electrical Engineer, Flight Lieutenant (FLTLT) Katherine Head said the camp provided extensive information about FTE training, employment and career options in the future.
“We also had a unique opportunity to fly in the PC-9/A with an ARDU Qualified Test Pilot to learn first-hand flight test techniques and gain an appreciation of the FTE role in the airborne environment,” FLTLT Head said.
“The ARDU flight test aircrew were very welcoming and happily shared their own experiences and answered any questions.
“This experience has definitely given me some insight into the diverse non-traditional roles available for women in Air Force.”
ARDU has a key part in enabling the vision of Plan Jericho and unlock the amazing potential in Air Force's existing and new aircraft. To do this and fulfil its mission, ARDU needs the best possible Flight Test Aircrew of which FTEs are an essential part.
“The intent of these camps is to engender an interest in the FTE specialisation amongst female engineers by exposing a select pool of candidates to basic flight test principles, the role of the FTE and show them the opportunities a posting to ARDU would bring,” Commanding Officer ARDU, WGCDR Dan Rich said.
“FTEs are RAAF Engineers who are personally selected for an intensive year of ground and airborne education at an overseas Test Pilot School.
“On completion of course, they return to Australia for a three year posting at ARDU.
“The role of a FTE is an exciting one that bridges the gap between engineer and pilot to test systems on any RAAF platform.
“Without better representation from women, FTE selection is from a non-representative pool of the workforce hence why these camps are so important.
“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting our next generation of flight test professionals who will shape and strengthen future Air Force capability.”
Air Force is investing considerable resources recognising that women are a largely untapped group of potential talent. This is especially the case in those fields considered ‘non-traditional’ for women such as technical trades and aircrew roles.
ARDU is an element of the Test and Evaluation Directorate within the Air Warfare Centre and has a mission to provide a complete and integrated Test and Evaluation capability for Air Command.