Tales of Women Engineers: Innovation as a Leitmotif

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Aircraft of the future: watch out for turbulence!

Charo, ALTEN Design Engineer for Airbus Commercial Aircraft

Charo, ALTEN Design Engineer for Airbus Commercial Aircraft

” The first time I stepped into a flight simulator is one of my best memories as an engineer. I felt like I belonged there and it made everything I worked for come true,” Charo recalls

A physics and aviation enthusiast, the daughter of an Air Force officer and a glider enthusiast, she quite naturally opted for aerospace engineering as her preferred path. After studying aerospace engineering for five years at the Polytechnic University of Madrid, she went to Beijing to study for a Master’s degree in Management

She now lives in the South of France, in Toulouse, where she works as an ALTEN Design Engineer for Airbus Commercial Aircraft, on a project for an aircraft of the future.

“As someone with a very inquisitive mind, as is the case with any engineer I assume, working on a daily basis on an innovative project that will come to life in the aircraft of the future is very gratifying and rewarding. Every day I learn something new and the intellectual stimulation is great.”

Single European Sky: innovation from the ground up

Charo and the Airbus teams she works with are studying the SESAR programme, which stands for Single European Sky Air Traffic Management Research. This technological component of the “Single European Sky” aims to modernise and harmonise the European air traffic management system. This programme brings together many industrialists and covers a cutting-edge technological environment.

In this respect, Charo is working on the development of a functionality in the aircraft that will allow pilots and crew to avoid turbulence, to secure the cabin in anticipation of this type of event and to benefit from a better trajectory of the aircraft. This feature developed in the aircraft will be able to generate turbulence-related information from the ground and communicate it back from the ground to other aircraft in flight.

“To achieve our goal, we are continuously engaged in literature reviews, requirements clarification and software design in the first phase.

Next, we carry out test campaigns, in the laboratory and on a simulator, during which we check that the developed software works properly,” explains Charo.

This rhythm is punctuated by collaboration with the international teams of the SESAR programme, as numerous as the thousand and one pieces of equipment that make up an aircraft.

« Designing tomorrow’s world must be carried out with a commitment to diversity »


When asked how she would define an engineer in one word, Charo likes to go back to her mother tongue, Spanish, and use the adjective resolutivo, i.e. always finding a solution to a given problem. She adds:

“Anyone who can relate to this description has a contribution to make to the building of engineering, because engineering needs them. Conceiving the world of tomorrow without diversity of gender, culture, personality and world view means denying ourselves an important part of our ability to do so.”.

On the issue of professional diversity, Charo welcomes the progress that has been made in recent years, particularly in the engineering sector:

The share of women is increasing and there is no reason to halt this progress, precisely because women account for one half of our collective ability to shape the engineering landscape of the future. We are all concerned by this subject – men and women alike – and it is essential that we continue to encourage those who want to join us to do so.”

Friendly advice

from Charo

“Everything has a purpose. Everything has an explanation, even the flight of a plane, an engineer can prove it with a formula.”

Rapid fire question:

Past or future?

“Present! It is the only moment that is lived, that is true, that exists: the past cannot be changed, the future has not yet happened. On the other hand, the future opens up the field of possibilities and it is necessary to prepare for it, the aeroplane of the future is the proof!”