Senior Mechanical Engineer: Parachute System

Palo Alto, CA /
Heaviside – Occupant Safety /
Here at Kitty Hawk in Palo Alto, we are developing ground breaking all-electric Vertical Take off 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 Parachute Team, you will be a key contributor to development of our Ballistic Parachute Recovery (BPAR) System, including work on parachute, extraction rocket and activation subsystems, and vehicle integration. We design/build/test in rapid iteration, so you are an energetic, adaptable engineer who can make sound judgements with limited information. You will work on all levels of the design, from high-level system architecture to transition to manufacture. Your time will be split between design, functional, and reliability testing as we accelerate the future of aviation.

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

    • Design of complex mechanical systems for aerospace applications
    • Strong 3D parametric modeling CAD experience (Solidworks, or Catia preferred)
    • Strong drafting and GD&T skills (ASME Y14.5, ISO 2768, or similar)
    • Experienced with data analysis software (MATLAB or Python)
    • Structural analysis of metals and/or composites
    • B.S. Mechanical or Aerospace Engineering


    • Experience with parachutes, base jumping, skydiving, rigging, or other parachute related skills
    • Aviation and/or flight related hobbies or pursuits
    • Experience with rockets, explosives, and high-energy systems
    • Familiarity with cut and sew methods or products
    • Experience designing hardware to environmental requirements such as DO-160, NASA JSC 65828, MIL-STD-810, SMC-S-016, or similar standards
    • Strong written/verbal communication and organizational skills

Within 3 Months You Will:

    • Participate in and coordinate the execution of field tests on a weekly or semiweekly basis
    • Prepare and execute parachute system tests
    • Analyze test data and compile results

Within 6 Months You Will:

    • Take ownership of a parachute subsystem. Lead support for current hardware while planning and executing development for the next generation system. 
    • Help guide architectural discussions for our current and future aircraft
    • Collaborate with development test engineers to plan and execute hardware development tests
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.