Electro-optical Systems Flight Test Engineer | Air Force Test Center at Edwards AFB

Date Posted: 
Wednesday, February 17, 2021

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Position Location: 
Edwards AFB, CA
Job Description: 

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Electro-optical Systems Flight Test Engineers are involved in testing cutting edge advanced electro-optics, infrared and laser systems as well as directed energy technology. If hired, the applicant will join the civilian workforce of the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) located at Edwards Air Force Base, California. Engineers working for the AFTC are currently involved in testing various aircraft and systems for the Air Force. The aircraft currently under test include the F-16 Falcon, F-22 Raptor, F-35 Lightning II, B-52 Stratofortress, B-1 Lancer, B-2 Spirit, C-130 Hercules, C-17 Globemaster III, RQ-4 Global Hawk unmanned aerial system and many more. The electro-optical systems currently under test include the SNIPER and LITENING advanced targeting pods, the ROVER portable video downlink system, F-35 Electro-optical Targeting System (EOTS) and Distributed Aperture System (DAS), RQ-4 MS-177 multi-spectral, Infrared Search and Track, Remote Vision Systems, helmets, displays as well as many other systems. 

While employed by the AFTC, engineers receive the best training available and during the first year of employment are assigned a mentor. Engineers will learn to perform/master some or all of the following tasks: 

  • Research the system under test.
  • Author test plans, safety packages, test reports, and flight cards.
  • Perform ground tests while sitting in the aircraft
  • Learn specific aircraft flight characteristics via high fidelity aircraft simulators (think video games on steroids)
  • Conduct and/or monitor flight test missions from a mission control room (think Apollo 11)
  • Participate in career specific and career broadening training
  • Travel in the course of their duties
  • Work with contractors, military personnel, and other government employees to develop the most efficient and effective test procedures and products
  • Develop/operate custom data analysis tools, primarily in MatLab and Python, to analyze the data collected on test flights
  • Conduct lab testing
  • Become familiar with and use statistics for data collection, analysis, inference and summaries
  • Report on results
  • Innovate and improve best practices for the future

This position is only open to US citizens and is geared more towards engineers with degrees in Optical, Electrical, Computer or Systems Engineering.  Aerospace, Mechanical and Materials Science Engineering majors will be considered if they have aviation and/or military interest or background and are also interested in working with avionics and sensors. 

This position consists of testing and evaluating contractor designed and manufactured systems. Though we don’t design the systems, we do design the test and custom tools to analyze the data gathered from the test. It is however, very important to understand as much about the design and environmental physics as possible to better test and evaluate the system. Our engineers find working with the final system as integrated on its host aircraft as a near end-product challenging and rewarding. The job requires a great deal of interaction with aircrew and learning about how the system is used in combat. Our engineers are challenged with a great deal of responsibility early on including understanding the system and its requirements/specifications, designing a test within the trade space/constraints, deciding how to test and evaluate, analyzing the data and reporting on the results. In addition, creatively innovating with new ways of testing and evaluating through an innovation committee is highly encouraged for each engineer. We are currently building a state-of-the-art optics lab and acquiring complex modeling and simulation tools as well a large-scale optical field targets and custom in-flight infrared truth measurement systems for 21st century test and evaluation techniques. We also have a flying program so engineers can experience what aircrew experience in an actual back-seat flight(s) to better understand the unique flight environment of system operation/performance! Every day you will make a difference for your country! If you like a challenge and want to be on the cutting edge of aviation and electro-optical systems, then the AFTC is the place for you. US citizenship is required. 





Here at Edwards AFB, we are not on the GS-scale. We are under a program called acquisition demo which is a contribution-based system that allows managers like me a lot more flexibility and responsiveness regarding employee pay over the GS system. Instead of grades and steps like the GS system, we have “broadband” categories for our engineers. 

http://acqdemo.dau.mil/ " target="_blank">https://www.opm.gov/policy-data-oversight/pay-leave/salaries-wages/salary-tables/pdf/2020/LA.pdf http://acqdemo.dau.mil/ 

Approximate 2021 Broadbands w/ Locality Pay 

NH-II (Entry level): $73k - $83k  

NH-III (Journeyman/Senior Engineers): $88k – $136k 

NH-IV (Technical Experts/Engineering Leadership): $136k - $172k+   

Potential for recruitment incentives 

Your placement in the NH-II band will be based on your GPA, work experience and other factors. Promotion to the NH-III band (6-10%) at 1 year. 

Work Hours

  • Flexible work schedule
  • Mon-Fri, rarely on Saturdays
  • Overtime/credit hours for directed work (anything over 80 hours in 2 weeks)
  • Paid travel time to/from off-site duty locations

More about Edwards AFB

For more than 70 years, Edwards Air Force Base -- home of the Air Force Test Center (AFTC) -- has been the location of more major milestones in flight than any other place on earth. Covering nearly 301,000 acres, Edwards is located in the Mojave Desert, adjacent to the largest dry lakebed in North America -- Rogers Dry Lake.  

The AFTC assists in the Air Force's overall mission, defending the United States and protecting its interests through aerospace power, by ensuring current and future airmen have proven equipment and battle-ready weapons systems when operating in harm's way. 

The AFTC is the Air Force Materiel Command center of excellence for research, development, and test and evaluation of aerospace systems for the United States and its allies. To support testing, the AFTC operates the Edwards Flight Test Range, which is comprised of 20,000 square miles of airspace, including three supersonic corridors and four aircraft spin areas. Besides flight test capabilities, Edwards has an array of ground test facilities. One of these facilities, the massive Benefield Anechoic Facility, allows for complete testing of a fully integrated avionics suite in a simulated flight environment, including electronic threats and computer software checkout.  

The AFTC is hiring top engineers to test the most advanced technology in the world. Test the future as a federal employee with competitive performance based salaries, recruitment bonuses and many other perks!