For the past five years I’ve worked in Toulouse, France, first commissioning airbus test benches and then as a member of the Flight Test Team, testing both aircraft and engines to their limits.
Flight test programmes are rare, so I’m very privileged to be part of this team of 11. It’s our job to prove that the aircraft is ready to enter service and is capable of safely carrying passengers.
Testing is critical for aircraft certification – it relies on the data we provide to the relevant authorities.
When we’re on the ground, we support as many flights as we can by keeping the flight test engines ready to fly and the aircraft flying. But, when we’re in the air, monitoring our engines during flight, we do a wide range of tests from engine relights to negative g-flights. It’s quite a strange feeling – experiencing negative g-forces for the first time. I was slightly apprehensive about what to expect. It’s difficult to work in those conditions when all you actually want to do is enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime experience.
The best part of my job is that we work in and around the engines and aircraft and I feel I have a direct impact on what Airbus is trying to do. They have high standards, so at times there can be a lot of pressure but it’s great to see how the programme has developed.
It’s a huge privilege to have flown on 53 flights for almost 190 hours powered by the Trent XWB. Airbus has strict safety controls, so we’re only able to fly with the aircraft when it’s absolutely necessary. There is always an element of risk, but with the right controls in place and a limited crew we do all we can to minimise them.
I know that as the aircraft enters service, our team is no longer needed and it’s time to move on. I’ve spent half of my 10 years with the company in Toulouse, but it’s time for me to come back to the UK and find a new challenge.
I’m also looking forward to spending more time with my family and joining friends on the slopes snowboarding.