Principal Engineer, Flight Structures

Mountain View, CA
Special Projects – Special Projects
Here at Kitty Hawk, where a century of aviation practices meets technology breakthroughs and a world-class engineering team, things are looking up. In 1903, the Wright brothers took flight for the first time from the beaches of Kitty Hawk, North Carolina. Our journey started by designing, testing and building all-electric vertical take-off and landing products for work and play. Today, in California, we are building on the Wright Brothers’ legacy to create the next generation of vehicles for everyday flight.

We are looking for a principal engineer to lead our flight structures design effort. We operate with a small team of talented generalists, so in this role you will own nearly the entirety of the design of the airframe including every element from basic structural sizing and topology, on through mechanical detailing, finite element modeling and detailed sizing, mold design, design for manufacture, and incoming quality control. You will take ownership of a reasonably high performance if hard to manufacture airframe, and focus the majority of your effort on improving manufacturability, reducing parts count, and making performance improvements.

Within 3 months you will:

    • Learn the current state of the art
    • Take design ownership of the existing airframe and support minor changes and manufacturer needs
    • Support repeat builds
    • Develop rough concepts for design improvements

Within 6 months you will:

    • Detail and perform specific trades on concepts for improvement
    • Perform detailed structural analysis on improved designs

Within 9 months you will:

    • Source new airframes of improved design through a competitive bid process

You must have a majority of, but not all, of the following experience and skills:

    • A mechanical, physics, manufacturing, aerospace, or similar degree
    • A strong background with the design and analysis of high performance composite structures
    • Experience in the manufacture of composite parts, in particular with out of autoclave processes, and in particular with material performance in non-ideal conditions
    • Strong CAD skills in any halfway decent CAD program
    • A good understanding of aerodynamics such that you are able to make intelligent trades between OML, structural properties, and manufacturability
    • Competency in finite element modeling, in particular with orthotropic materials and with buckling mode derivation
    • In particular, a competency in hand calculation of structural characteristics and in basic sizing.

Ideally you would also have the following:

    • Experience with various methods of higher rate manufacture in metals and composites (forging, stamping, HP-rtm, compression molding, automatic tape lay, etc.)
    • Previous experience designing small aircraft
    • A pilot's license or experience in related areas of flight such as RC model aircraft, paragliding, hang gliding, etc.
    • Engineering related hobbies
We are located in Mountain View and Palo Alto, near Shoreline Lake and its surrounding walking/jogging trails. We offer a comprehensive benefits package including medical, dental, vision and life insurance (company pays 100% of employee premium), unlimited PTO days, 10 company holidays, a 401(k) plan with 50% company matching (no vesting period), commuter assistance, and education assistance. And on top of all that, we also offer a variety of perks such as free catered lunches and snacks, flight lessons, happy hours and many more.

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.