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ATM System Test Engineer

ATM System Test Engineer

Interview with Claire Ballester, ATM System Test Engineer

First of all, please could you introduce yourself to us?

I’m Claire  and I have been working at Airbus Defence and Space for a short time so far. In fact, I am one of the ‘new recruits’.

After a six-month work placement at the end of my studies, I was offered a permanent contract. I am currently still working in the same department since joining on work experience. This shows real confidence on the part of the company and it allows me to work with peace of mind.

Can you tell us about your work? (Techniques, team, things you like, etc.)

I work in the ATM (Air Traffic Management) department as a System Test Engineer. My job is to develop a support system for air traffic controllers to assist them in their daily work. To do this, we have a team of ten people (project manager, engineers for system specifications, development engineers and validation engineers).

I am currently preparing tests (procedures and data) for the integration and validation of both software and system equipment. Once development has been completed, I will run these tests on the target platforms, which will highlight any bugs that will subsequently be corrected before deploying the system at the customer’s site.

What challenges do you face in your everyday work?

I work in a multicultural, multi-generational and multi-company environment (with co-contractors and subcontractors). So you have to adapt to each team, each point of contact.

In addition, the project scope has not yet been fixed and requirements change regularly. We must therefore keep up to date and make modifications to accommodate these changes.

What is your academic and professional background?

After obtaining my scientific Baccalaureate (with honours), I did a ‘PCSI/PC’ physics, chemistry and engineering sciences foundation course. I subsequently won a place at the aviation-oriented university ENAC, to specialise in computer science and air traffic. I was eventually recruited into the department where I had done my end-of-studies work placement.

What qualities do you believe this profession requires?

Good analysis skills and critical thinking. Carrying out any project successfully requires you to be able to take a step back. This means being attentive to your project partners and knowing how to accept setbacks.

It also requires motivation and a genuine interest in the field. Personally, I have always been attracted to the air traffic control sector. My job as ATM System Test Engineer is a role which matched up with this passion.

What has been your favourite Airbus Defence and Space product?

ERATO which is currently the only ATM product developed by Airbus Defence and Space for civil aviation.

To be honest I am more interested in aeronautics than space. Nevertheless, working in an environment where these two worlds meet is very rewarding from both a professional point of view – the analysis and working methods are similar to those of satellite ground segments – and on a personal level, since it opens your mind.

Quality Engineer

Interview with Isabelle Desenclos, Quality Engineer

First of all, please could you introduce yourself to us?

I have been working at Airbus Defence and Space for 25 years. When I joined the company, it was called Matra Espace. In fact, I have been passionate about space from a very young age, and I have always been fascinated by the conquest and study of space. Therefore it is a privilege to work for Airbus Defence and Space, a real flagship of the space industry.

You know, it is something exceptional when your passion becomes your work.

Can you tell us about your work?

I am working as a quality engineer for satellite control centres, mainly for export. My mission is to define, implement and apply the quality assurance programme to ground systems and software/hardware for internal and external customers.To do this, I have to constantly help teams define, adapt and implement the company’s processes.

I am also tasked with checking that these processes are applied. What I like about this job is the contact with the different stakeholders of a project (project managers, systems engineers, software developers, test managers, etc.). In fact, to make a process coherent and help improve it, I have to spend time with these teams to understand their working methods. So I carry out series of interviews, it is really fascinating.

What challenges do you face in your everyday work?

The biggest challenge is getting across the message ‘quality first’ and not ‘timetable first’. As with any business relationship, the customer sets a delivery date. We are obliged to adhere to it whilst ensuring the quality of our product. This is easier said than done, in fact a satellite and its ground system, due to their complexity and their operating environments, must above all be reliable and operational for at least 15 years in the case of a communications satellite.

In short, we have to work ‘quickly and thoroughly’ on an exceptional product, which is no mean feat…

Which project has fascinated you the most?

You have to understand that at Airbus Defence and Space we can easily work on new projects. It is important for the development of a company to be able to tap into the different qualities of all of its employees. Therefore, management encourages internal mobility in order to stimulate our activities by our differences. Thus I have been able to fulfil an Assembly Integration and Test (AIT) quality management role on numerous satellites.

The GAIA scientific satellite project in particular, which was a fabulous experience. Both on a professional level where we followed the production of the satellite step by step with the grand finale of the launch from Kourou, but also on a human level, where team spirit is omnipresent.

You know, we still enjoy getting together now. We participated in the advent of an exceptional space study project; it was a wonderful experience.

What is your academic and professional background?

A two-year university education, a degree in physical measurement, with a materials option. I then became an engineer thanks to in-house training provided by Airbus Defence and Space. In our jargon we use the term ‘home-grown engineer’. I started my career in Paris, in an analysis laboratory for electronic components in satellite electronic equipment. Then I became a components inspector. I produced component ‘formulas’ for manufacturers. Finally, I came to Toulouse where I held various AIT quality positions and currently I am working as a quality engineer for satellite control centres.

A career with a wide variety of experiences! But that is exactly what I was looking for; discovering new areas, participating in new challenges, working with different people, etc. It is all extremely rewarding.

What qualities and skills do you believe a quality engineer at Airbus Defence and Space requires?

Being organised, rigorous and versatile. Of course you have to be dynamic and responsive. But, if like me you are passionate about space, these qualities will come forth naturally.

To conclude, what is your favourite Airbus Defence and Space product?

A difficult question… I would say scientific satellites. The way they are made means that we really participate in projects which advance knowledge of the solar system and beyond. It is amazing to say that thanks to this type of satellite we will discover totally unknown stars and planets.

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