Collecting vital flight data while enduring high-G manoeuvres in a PC-9 was a wild new experience for eight female engineers.

The engineers participated in a two-day camp to learn more about what life would be like as a Royal Australian Air Force Flight Test Engineer (FTE) with the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF base Edinburgh.

Electrical engineer Flight Lieutenant Katherine Head said the camp provided her with information about FTE training, employment and future career options.  

“We had an opportunity to fly in the PC-9/A with an ARDU-qualified test pilot to learn flight-test techniques and gain an appreciation of the FTE role while airborne,” Flight Lieutenant Head said.

“The ARDU flight test aircrew happily shared their own experiences and answered our questions.

“This experience has definitely given me an insight into the diverse non-traditional roles available for women in Air Force.”

ARDU plays a key part in enabling Plan Jericho and unlocking the potential of Air Force's existing and new aircraft.

Commanding Officer of ARDU Wing Commander Dan Rich said the intent of the camps was to engender an interest in the FTE specialisation among female engineers by exposing a select pool

of candidates to basic flight test principles, the role of the FTE and to show them the opportunities that a posting to ARDU would bring.

“FTEs are RAAF engineers who are selected for an intensive year of ground and airborne education at an overseas test pilot school,” Wing Commander Rich said.

“On completion of the course, they return to Australia for a three-year posting at ARDU.

“The role of an FTE is an exciting one that bridges the gap between engineer and pilot to test systems on any RAAF platform.

“Without better representation from women, FTE selection is from a non-representative pool of the workforce, hence why these camps are so important.

“I thoroughly enjoyed meeting our next generation of flight test professionals who will shape and strengthen future Air Force capability.”

ARDU is an element of the Test and Evaluation Directorate within the Air Warfare Centre. Its mission is to provide an integrated test and evaluation capability for Air Command.