How to Become a Test Pilot

Becoming a Test Pilot is one of the most challenging careers as along with talent, you need complete knowledge about every aspect and nuance of flying, total precision and accuracy and the ability to use your expertise and skills to make quick decisions in a calm manner. If you believe that this is your calling and are wondering how to become a test pilot, the article that follows would give you all the information you need about the topic.

What exactly is the job of a test pilot?

Test Pilots are responsible for the proper functioning of the aircraft. This is done by systematically gathering flight data and then interpreting the same. They assess the airplane and its performance while and after flight. They are called upon to work along with the engineers before the flight mainly to give suggestions and advice about how to optimize the performance of the aircraft by improving its design and minimising air resistance. To sum it up, tests pilots use their knowledge and expertise to help develop good flying capacity for both military and civilian aircraft.

Tips on how to become a Test Pilot

If you have recognised that this is where your aptitude lies, you need to plan and take some steps towards your future career as a test pilot well in advance.

  • Advanced math and science courses: This will help build your analytical skills as test pilots need to write detailed reports on aviation systems and flight results.
  • Hone your communication skills: In this profession, it is absolutely essential to be a good communicator and to be able to present your analyses and results to the senior management. You need good writing skills as you have to create lengthy papers and reports about the flight data and systems.
  • Read extensively about aviation and get practical flying experience: The more you read on the topic the greater will be your command on the topic. Familiarising yourself with every aspect of aviation will hold you in good stead later when you need to read and analyse flight data and recommend suggestions. Another must do is taking flying lessons which will give you the opportunity to understand in flight operation and control of aircraft.
  • Be highly qualified: It is highly advisable to get a Master’s degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering. A degree or diploma in Business management would be an added asset as leadership and managerial skills are invaluable in this profession where you may have to direct a team as a Project manager on aircraft testing assignments.
  • Get your pilot’s license: For this you need to attend flight school and accumulate as many flying hours as possible. This will ensure that you have optimal flying experience and knowledge about aviation machinery and technology.
  • Advanced Training in flying: The advanced training for test pilots is conducted by the U.S. Military which is open to both military personnel and civilians. This course is 11 months long and you need to hold a pilot’s license in order to be eligible for it. Some test pilot institutions provide shorter, more specific courses catering to the needs of the aviation industry. These courses may however be limited to a smaller section of the students.
  • Class I Medical Certificate: This certificate is awarded only if you are in the best of health condition, with no history of any disease or mental disorders. You need to have excellent hearing and vision and if you wear glasses, they must correct your vision upto the stipulated limits laid down for flying.
  • Pass a drug test: Any evidence of dependence on drugs, alcohol and other prohibited substances is sure to get your application for the post of test pilot rejected.

The job of a test pilot is so demanding that it makes no allowances for being just average or second grade. Each and every test pilot has to match the other is skill, knowledge and command of the subject. But once you become a test pilot, there’s no looking back, you’ll only scale greater heights of success.


Related Content:

  1. How to Become a Commercial Pilot
  2. How to Become a Navy Fighter Pilot
  3. How to Become a Jet Pilot
  4. How to Become a Pilot UK
  5. How to Become a Corporate Pilot

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