Senior GNC Engineer

Palo Alto, CA
Aircraft Software /
Full-time /
Pivotal is the leader in the emerging market of electric Vertical Takeoff and Landing (eVTOL) aircraft. We design, develop, and manufacture light eVTOL aircraft and are renowned for the BlackFly, the first light eVTOL to fly manned missions and enter the consumer market.

Efficient, compact, and simple, Pivotal vehicles are designed for a wide range of consumer, public service, and defense applications. Our distinctive tilt-aircraft architecture and scalable platform have been in development, preparing to enter the market for over 10 years. We recently announced our next-generation aircraft, the Helix, planned for general release and scalable production in January 2024.

Mobility is one of the most highly-valued areas of technology investment today. This is the right company, in the right space, the right strategy, at the right time. We invite you to join our amazing team and grow with us.

About the job

Pivotal is seeking a highly motivated and experienced GNC Engineer to play a pivotal role in the development of our eVTOL aircraft. The ideal candidate will have a strong background in guidance, navigation, and control systems with professional, aviation experience in at least one of the following areas:

System Identification: Characterization of the dynamic behavior of the aircraft, including the determination of parameters such as mass, inertia, aerodynamic coefficients, and propulsion system characteristics through time-domain or frequency-domain methods
Flight Dynamics Modeling: Development and verification of aircraft flight dynamics models for use in simulations and control system design
Flight Control Development: Development, tuning and verification of flight control algorithms using flight test methods to ensure aircraft stability, maneuverability, and performance meet requirements

Experience in one or more of these areas would also be valuable:
Navigation and Autonomy: Development of autonomous navigation systems, including path planning, obstacle detection and avoidance, and real-time decision-making algorithms
State Estimation: Develop state estimation and sensor fusion algorithms to accurately estimate the aircraft's position, velocity, attitude, and other critical states in real-time
Handling and/or Flying Qualities: Helping define handling qualities requirements and/or designing algorithms to meet handling qualities requirements


    • Requirements Definition: Help define requirements for one or more areas of expertise listed above such as requirements for sensors, actuators, controller performance, simulation fidelity, degraded models
    • Algorithm Implementation: Design and implement algorithms for the areas of expertise listed above using MATLAB, Simulink, C and/or C++. Examples include flight models, control algorithms, state machine logic, and Kalman filters
    • System Integration: Collaborate with multidisciplinary teams including the firmware, aeromechanical and electrical teams to integration C systems into the aircraft, ensuring seamless functionality and reliability
    • Verification and Validation: Work with the systems engineering team and flight testing team to develop and execute V&V plans to verify and validate that designs meet requirements. This includes flight tests, simulations, and ground tests as appropriate
    • Data Analysis: Online and offline flight data analysis for monitoring aircraft performance and safety
    • Safety and Compliance: Help define safety standards and processes derived from relevant aviation regulations, standards, and best practices
    • Documentation: Maintain documentation of design, testing, and validation processes to support validation and verification of requirements
    • Mentoring: Provide guidance and mentorship to junior engineers and team members.


    • 4+ years of professional experience
    • Masters or PhD in related engineering discipline (Aerospace, Mechanical, etc)
    • Proven experience in designing and developing GNC systems for aircraft, ideally in electric or autonomous aviation
    • Proficiency in MATLAB, Simulink, C/C++, and other relevant software tools
    • Knowledge of relevant industry standards, regulations, and safety protocols
    • Hands-on experience through employment, student teams, co-op, and/or personal projects
    • Excellent problem-solving skills and a demonstrated ability to work in a fast-paced, collaborative start-up environment

Bonus Qualifications

    • Experience with version control such as Git
    • Experience with system identification software such as CIFER
    • Experience with model-based control system design
    • Experience with wind-tunnel testing and/or CFD for use in flight dynamics modeling
    • Proficiency with Python, C#, Java, or other high level languages
    • Experience with embedded systems, real-time systems, robotics, or sensors
    • Interest in RC planes, quadcopters, or aviation
    • Experience with machine learning

Personal Attributes

    • Highly adaptable, humble, and willing to roll up their sleeves to tackle any task
    • Resourceful, curious, and never satisfied with the status quo
    • Always thinking about how to make things more efficient
    • Strong work ethic and detail-oriented
    • Love learning and being challenged

Salary Range

Applicants must be eligible for employment in the United States and willing to work onsite at our HQ office in Palo Alto, CA.

Pivotal offers a comprehensive benefits package, including medical, dental, vision, and 401k plans.

Pivotal is an Equal Opportunity Employer. Pivotal does not discriminate on the basis of race, religion, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, age, non-disqualifying physical or mental disability, national origin, veteran status or any other basis covered by appropriate law. All employment is decided on the basis of qualifications, merit, and business need.