Senior Development Test Engineer

Palo Alto, CA /
Heaviside – Propulsion /
Here at Kitty Hawk in Palo Alto, we are leading the race to market with our 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. 

In this role you will be a key member of the Heaviside propulsion team, responsible for testing and analyzing our next generation battery electric powertrain systems and subsystems. This will include working across battery systems, high voltage distribution, inverters, motors, rotors, and mechanisms. You will collaborate with design engineering and test teams to advance understanding of powertrain system characteristics, identify risks, and develop design recommendations based on test conclusions.

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

    • At least five years of experience testing and analyzing electric powertrain systems and subsystems in a development environment
    • Collaborating with engineering colleagues to conceptualize, write, execute, and document test procedures
    • Failure Mode and Effects Analysis (FMEA)
    • Failure modes of power electronics, electrical components, PCBs, and electromechanical subsystems
    • Failure modes of structural components and mechanisms
    • Redundancy and fault tolerance design approaches and techniques
    • Use of a variety of DAQ systems and sensor types (acceleration, strain, temp, etc.) to instrument and measure powertrain systems under testInstrumentation and measurement best practices
    • Lab and testing equipment such as power supplies and analyzers, oscilloscopes, hipot testers, and battery test equipment
    • Scripting and automation in Python. Data analysis in Python and MATLAB.
    • Fundamentals of Mechanical and Electrical Engineering


    • Experience with systems engineering methodologies, including requirements derivation and verification
    • Experience developing and testing motor-inverter and/or aerospace battery systems, including familiarity with DO-311A and the emerging standards for aerospace electric propulsion systems
    • Design for reliability in high vibration and high temperature environments
    • Experience transitioning hardware from development to qualification
    • Experience testing hardware to DO-160

Within 3 Months You Will:

    • Become familiar with the entirety of our aircraft: propulsion, avionics, structures, software, and overall architecture
    • Perform propulsion subsystem development tests for nominal and off-nominal conditions
    • Collaborate with design engineers to address subsystem design deficiencies and develop new designs

Within 6 Months You Will:

    • Contribute to FMEA at the propulsion system, subsystem, and vehicle level
    • Define, execute, and document development tests on our next generation of aircraft electric propulsion systems. Develop design recommendations based on test outcomes. 
    • Contribute to architectural discussions regarding our current and future aircraft
    • Develop digital testing infrastructure and workflows to manage test plans and results
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.