Senior Systems Engineer in Avionics

Palo Alto, CA /
Heaviside – Avionics /
Here at Kitty Hawk in Palo Alto, we are developing ground breaking all-electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (VTOL) aircraft.  Project Heaviside is Kitty Hawk’s latest high-performance electric VTOL vehicle. It is designed to be fast, small, and exceedingly quiet, taking advantage of new possibilities to free people from traffic. 

As a member of Heaviside’s avionics team, you will work on a variety of aircraft systems from the detect-and-avoid system, fly-by-wire system, and communications systems.  Our engineers take full ownership of systems, so you’ll be an energetic, adaptable engineer who can make sound judgements with limited information.  You will work on all levels of systems engineering, from high-level system requirements to equipment surveys to make-buy decisions to vendor management and procurement.  You will help guide Kittyhawk towards designing and producing key avionics systems as we accelerate the future of aviation.


    • Develop certifiable, fault tolerant avionics architectures including fly-by-wire, detect-and-avoid, and communication systems
    • Develop and communicate requirements from the avionics system level to the component/item level in accordance with the system architecture
    • Engage vendors in the development of novel avionics hardware and manage COTS part selection process
    • Create standards and processes for internal avionics hardware development in accordance with DO-254
    • Develop models to analyze the performance and safety of the avionics system

You should be familiar with all, proficient with most and expert at some of the following, in no particular order:

    • Architecture design for redundancy and fault tolerance
    • Top-level system design efforts where the task is to optimize an implementation amidst multi-disciplinary factors
    • Experience with requirements, FMEA, FTA, and verification
    • Developing and maintaining relationships with avionics COTS vendors
    • Considerations for reliability in high vibration and high temperature environments
    • Familiarity with quality and manufacturing as they relate to hardware for real world ionics systems
    • Excellent writing skill and capability to give presentations
    • Knowledge of ARP4754 and ARP4761 Methods and Practices


    • DO-254 and DO-178 Standards
    • Experience testing hardware to DO-160
    • Ability to understand and innovate the hardware / software barrier within systems
    • C or Python coding facility

Within 3 Months You Will:

    • Become familiar with our aircraft’s avionics, sensors, and redundancy approach
    • Establish System level requirements based on the set of Aircraft Requirements
    • Have surveyed the field of COTS parts that would be applicable to our requirements

Within 6 Months You Will:

    • Take ownership of a large subsystem
    • Help guide architectural discussions for our current and future aircraft
    • Manage the relationships with selected vendors on the program
You should be able to work independently and determine the most fruitful direction to move in, while being an efficient communicator, avid documenter, and integrated team member.

You should be able to describe your contributions to previous personal, academic, open source and/or professional projects that you are most proud of.

We welcome you to apply even if you don’t match every requirement posted for this role.  No one candidate will be a 100% perfect match to our description, so if you are passionate about working on the next evolution in aviation and have similar experience to what we are looking for, we encourage you to apply.  Diverse backgrounds and experiences promote innovation and our goal is to build a team that encompasses a variety of backgrounds, experiences, and skills.

All of our team whose roles allow them to work remotely are doing so, and will continue to do so until we’re able to be back in the office. For teams that are not able to work remotely we’re making every accommodation possible to provide a safe working environment, and ensuring we meet all state and county guidelines. 

Our headquarters is in Palo Alto and we offer a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision, and life insurance, unlimited PTO days, 10 company holidays, a 401(k) plan with 40% company matching (no vesting period), flight lesson subsidy, education assistance, and company-sponsored social events. For those working onsite, Kitty Hawk also offers commuter assistance, and free drinks and snacks.

Kitty Hawk provides equal employment opportunities (EEO) to all employees and applicants for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, disability or genetics. In addition to federal law requirements, Kitty Hawk abides by applicable state and local laws governing nondiscrimination in employment in every location in which the company has facilities. This policy applies to all terms and conditions of employment, including recruiting, hiring, placement, promotion, termination, layoff, recall, transfer, leaves of absence, compensation, and training.

Kitty Hawk is an E-Verify employer.