Aircraft Performance Engineer

How to Become an Aircraft Performance Engineer


To become an aircraft performance engineer, you must first explore whether or not this career suits your interests, personality traits, skills and ambitions.


If the following describes you, then this career might be right up your alley:


• You have an interest in a career that allows you make use of your natural aptitude in mathematics

• You have the capacity to comprehend advanced engineering principles

• You have a keen interest in the design and development of aircraft

• You have an interest in a well-paying, and relatively stable career

• You have the ability to plan, prioritize and manage projects effectively

• You want to feel like you’re making a significant contribution to an airline’s safety and efficiency


Did those attributes describe you? If so, let’s continue figuring out how you can break into this field!


You’ll need to know what type of education and skills you will need, and you’ll probably want an idea of what you’ll actually be doing, where you could be working, and what you could earn. All of that is provided below!



Educational Requirements

The most important aspect of getting started in this career, is setting the proper educational foundation.


Employers will likely want you to have a bachelor’s degree in engineering, a related curriculum, or equivalent combination of education and experience sufficient to successfully perform the essential functions of the job.


Some employers will want you to have a graduate degree in aerospace, electrical or mechanical engineering, depending on the complexity of the tasks you will be performing, and your level of responsibility within the aircraft performance team.





Aircraft Performance Engineer Job Description

As an aircraft performance engineer, you would be responsible for applying advanced engineering principles to the design and development of aircraft, in order to ensure that they operate at optimal levels, as safely and efficiently as possible.



General Job Duties of This Profession

The specific tasks that you may carry out as an aircraft performance engineer will vary from one job to the next. However, engineers in this field are generally responsible for performing the following duties:


• Determining technical objectives of assignment

• Selecting appropriate methods, techniques, and evaluation criteria to resolve complex aircraft engineering issues

• Using computer-based tools to analyze airplane performance in specific phases of flight

• Analyzing flight test data in support of airplane performance database development

• Developing and enhancing policies, procedures and processes, which deliver technical and operational support

• Developing operational data and provide operational and strategic engineering services to internal and external customers

• Providing oversight to the airplane’s weight and balance program

• Developing efficient flight profiles for the flight planning system

• Monitoring aircraft and engine performance for maintenance troubleshooting

• Conducting studies of optimal aircraft routings to assist in identifying new markets

• Ensuring all processes comply with industry regulations and legislation

• Maintaining knowledge of developments in the field



Skills Needed to Be Successful

On top of your education, you will need a certain set of hard and soft skills to excel in this field. These skills are typically acquired as a result of your education, combined with any work experience you’ve had in the field. They include:


Hard Skills


• A solid understanding of airplane flight characteristics, first-principles analyses and performance methods

• A thorough understanding of fixed wing aerodynamics, propulsion, and performance

• Familiarity with performance design of specific kinds of airplanes

• Able to use computer based tools to analyze airplane performance in specific phases of flight

• Able to effectively analyze flight test data in support of airplane performance database development

• Knowledge of database management programs, such as APEx (Aircraft Performance Explorer)

• Having skills in a second language may be helpful, particularly for working on joint international projects


Soft Skills


• The ability to plan, prioritize and manage projects effectively

• Able to work effectively with team members

• Excellent verbal and written communication skills

• Able to anticipate and resolve complex issues in creative and effective ways

• Able to select the appropriate methods, techniques and evaluation criteria to resolve complex issues





Characteristics & Traits Needed

To be successful as an aircraft performance engineer, you have to truly enjoy what you do; having the following traits and characteristics will go a long way towards ensuring that is the case:


• A natural aptitude in mathematics, statistics, engineering, and aviation

• Interest in work that involves details and precision

• Interest in a career that allows you to make a significant contribution to an airline’s safety and efficiency

• Interest in a well-paying, and relatively stable career

• The will to keeping up to date with new developments in the field

• Interest in a career that allows you to potentially work with airlines and airports from all over the world



Who Creates Jobs for Aircraft Performance Engineers?

If you want to become an aircraft engineer, it will be helpful to have an idea of where you can look for jobs. The following is a general list of the types of organizations that employ aircraft performance engineers on a permanent or contractual basis:


• Colleges and universities (in research and/or teaching capacities)

• Companies that design, manufacture and sell commercial and private airplanes

• Companies that develop flight operations software and tools 

• Consulting firms

• Domestic and international airports

• Government departments, such as the Department of Transportation

• The Air Force, and other national defense agencies


Average Salary Level in This Field

The salary level you could earn varies, typically based on the following factors:


• Your level of education

• Your level of experience and aptitude

• The specific responsibilities of their job

• The size and type of your employer

• The region in which you will work


Unfortunately, there is no salary information available from reliable sources for aircraft performance engineers. You can however, get a good idea of what you would earn by looking at the salary level of workers in closely related occupations.


Aircraft Performance Engineer Salary - Canada (Alberta figures only): According to the 2013 Alberta Wage and Salary Survey (latest figures available as of May 28, 2019), Albertans working in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group earn an average salary of $106,900 per year, and those working in the Mechanical Engineers group earn an average of $94,843 per year.


Aircraft Performance Engineer Salary United States: According to the United States Bureau of Labor Statistics, the median salary level of American workers in the Aerospace Engineers occupational group is $103,720 per year, while those working in the Mechanical Engineers occupational group earn a median of $80,580 per year. 



Job Opportunities - Open Positions

Our job board below has "Aircraft Performance Engineer" postings in Canada, the United States, the United Kingdom and Australia.



Typical Work Environment

Working Hours: As an aircraft performance engineer, you would likely work full-time hours during the week. You may be required to work overtime (which includes weekends, evenings, and holidays) to meet project deadlines and ensure design specifications are met.


Work Setting: Your work would primarily take place in an office setting. You may also be involved in supervising work performed at production sites or manufacturing facilities.


Working Conditions: As an aircraft performance engineer, you would spend a considerable amount of time working with a computer. You would be likely to experience a great deal of pressure to meet deadlines and design standards. It is possible that you would work without appreciable direction; the work of these engineers is often reviewed from a long-range perspective for desired results.



Similar Occupations in Our Database

Listed below are careers in our database that are similar in nature to aircraft performance engineer, as they may involve many of the same skills, competencies and responsibilities.


Aerospace Engineer

Airline Pilot 

Electrical Engineer

Mechanical Engineer

Reliability Engineer



References for This Guide

To find out more about what an aircraft performance engineer does, how much they earn, and other details of this career, please consult the following resources:


Alberta Learning and Information Service website - Aerospace Engineer:

National Careers Service website - Aerospace Engineer:

United States Bureau of Labor Statistics website - Aerospace Engineers:



Relevant Scholarships for Becoming an Aircraft Performance Engineer

Looking for Canadian or American scholarships to help you on your way to becoming an aircraft performance engineer? We’ve got you covered! Here's how to find the best-suited scholarships:


• On, our scholarship listings are sorted by major

• The “Relevant Fields of Study” section below shows what majors apply to this career

• Search scholarships by major on our Civil Engineering Scholarships, Electrical Engineering Scholarships and Mechanical Engineering Scholarships pages.


Success Tip: Be sure to apply for any scholarships that you even barely qualify for, as there are millions of dollars of scholarships that go unused every year due to a lack of applicants!



Relevant Fields of Study

Studying one of the university majors listed below is an excellent starting point for becoming an aircraft performance engineer. Click on the links to find out what else you can do with these majors!


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Aircraft Performance Engineer