Love of engineering fuels success

As a flight test engineer in the Royal Australian Air Force, Flight Lieutenant Steph Hume describes her job as bridging the gap between the operational world and the engineering world.

CAPTIONAircraft Research and Development Unit flight test engineer Flight Lieutenant Stephanie Hume with a PC-21 on the flight line at RAAF Base Edinburgh. Story by Flying Officer Jamie Wallace. Photo by Corporal Brenton Kwaterski.

Based at the Aircraft Research and Development Unit (ARDU) at RAAF Base Edinburgh, Flight Lieutenant Hume has played a crucial role in the testing and evaluation of a range of Royal Australian Air Force capabilities.

“We are responsible for the definition, planning and execution of flight tests, as well as the data analysis and presentation of results obtained during the test program,” Flight Lieutenant Hume said.

“During testing, as a flight test engineer I might be located on board the aircraft or in a control room, tracking the status of the flight test in real time.”

Originally from Forestdale in Queensland, Flight Lieutenant Hume joined the Royal Australian Air Force during her gap year, studying a Bachelor of Mechanical Engineering at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA), before working as an armament engineering officer in the Guided Weapons Branch.

She has since been involved in important projects including aircraft life-support equipment testing, MQ-28 Ghost Bat trials, as well as working with the University of Canberra on the development of a cockpit sensor.

Following a 12-month intensive course at the National Test Pilot School in Mojave, US, she commenced as a flight test engineer at ARDU in 2022.

“I have always loved aircraft, flying and engineering, so the next logical step was to undertake a job that put all these interests and disciplines together,” Flight Lieutenant Hume said.

Earlier this year, Flight Lieutenant Hume led a highly trained team during air-to-air refuelling trials in a combined operation with the Japanese Air Self Defense Force.

The trials had RAAF KC-30A tankers refuelling Japanese F-15 fighters while in flight – a significant strategic development in the compatibility of the two nations’ forces.

As the flight test lead, Flight Lieutenant Hume was responsible for the overall management of the operation, which included planning and executing the test along with organising and managing the integrated test team.

Flight Lieutenant Hume recommends being a flight test engineer to anyone considering a career in engineering.

“The variety and complexity of tasks that you can be involved with is extremely broad,” she said.

“I have the opportunity to put my technical knowledge into practice – and being an engineer that flies is pretty great.

“I think I have the coolest engineering role in air force.”


CONTACT believes RAAF is deliberately dropping ‘Royal Australian’ from its name – despite Defence assuring us it isn’t true. Campaigning against this name-change-by-stealth, CONTACT has appropriately ‘repaired’ this official story. See here for more details







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