Académie des technologies

Servane Motte

  • Flight line engineer
  • Dassault Aviation
  • 39 years old
  • Sponsored by Bruno Revellin-Falcoz in 2023

Why a career in tech?

I think I was inspired to enter the world of ‘tech’ thanks to great teachers in mathematics and physics in high school. It might also have been to follow some family path (without any pressure) as my two brothers had gone into tech couple of years ahead of me.

Your professional experience?

After a french baccalaureat in sciences, I studied physics engineering for two years (Institut Universitaire de Technologie). Then I went to London as an au pair for one year before joining an engineering school in Material Sciences (polytech’ Nantes). During this engineering degree I had two internships in Research and Development. I ended up with my engineering degree and I discovered I did not want to work in Research and Development.

Your first experience with technology?

This is when I started looking for a job that I decided to focus my search toward aeronautics (I had discovered this sector with an assistant job in an helicopter company during my studies). I found my first job in a small aircraft maintenance consulting company whose customers were African companies. I discovered planes and all the shadow work necessary to have them ready to fly (troubleshooting, maintenance, authorities surveillance and audits …). That is called continued airworthiness management.

What do you do today, and why?

Today I am a flight line engineer within the Flight Test Department for Dassault Aviation. Flight test are meant to validate a new type of aircraft in terms of safety and performance in all flight phases and under all climatic conditions and to test its maintenability. As a flight line engineer, I pair with a lead mechanic to organize all ground activities on a Development aircraft: troubleshooting, modifications and retrofit, ground tests, maintenance … the target is to optimize time on ground to have the aicraft ready to fly as often as possible. In the manner of a conductor who is directing musicians without necessarily knowing how to play every instruments, the flight engineer organizes aircraft activities leaning on highly skilled specialists : mechanics, systems engineers, powerplant engineers, production technicians, suppliers, logisticians … the Flight line engineer reports to flight test engineers and sometimes to design office engineers. What I like most about this job is that one person cannot master or control every aspect of the mission but as a team, we can have the aircraft performing « firsts » every day (first flight, first landing with crosswind, first braking on wet runaway, first simulation of an hydraulic system loss …)

Your strengths in this role?

My previous experiences taught me how the aircraft is operated once it is in a company (in terms of technics and regulations). I am glad to have this perspective on the aircraft we develop.

Past challenges, failures and disappointments?

It’s been 5 years that I have this position and at first it was a big step for me : I had no idea how Flight Tests were run and my previous job was not as close to the aircraft; I was comparing myself to all the talented specialists around me. I clearly got out of my comfort zone for a while. With a lot of help from my colleagues, I found my own way to perform and fully enjoy the job.

Best moments, successes you’re proud of?

The first flight of the aircraft I have been assigned to was definitely a memorable moment, it happened after months of assembly and ground tests; seeing our aircraft taking off and landing for the first time was really moving, I might have shed a tear … discretly. The first flight is also the ‘kick off’ for the Flight Test phase (which last around 18 months). Sometimes we travel with our development aircraft to reach specific climatic conditions. For my first flight in our aircraft, I headed to North Canada with a small team of 10 people to test the aircraft and its systems in a cold soak campaign (-40 degrees C). I can’t say I am proud for this but at least I feel lucky to be at the right place at the right time (we were even rewarded by magnificent northern lights on our flight back… magic !)

People who helped, influenced -or made your life difficult?

A lot of people have influenced me : my dad put me on the path of aeronautics, a previous boss showed me that work was better while having fun, my flight test colleagues helped me build up my confidence.

Your hopes and future challenges?

In the short term, I am scheduled to go to our US sister company for a couple of months where deliveries of our first new aircraft will take place. Overall, this job has no daily routine so in the long term I think I will continue to be a flight line engineer but on new aircraft types, hopefully full of energy innovations.

What do you do when you don’t work?

I never work from home, I don’t bring my laptop home and I don’t have access to emails on my phone. I read, travel, hike, run, take photograph, play guitar … enjoy life.

Your heroes -from History or fiction?

My hero, since I read her biography is Jacqueline Auriol: she was the daughter-in -law of former president Vincent Auriol, she decided to become a pilot at 30 years old and became one of the first flight test pilots on fighter jets. She went on to break several records. I am also inspired by Simone Veil because of what she and her family suffered during the war and how she came back stronger in politics.

A saying or proverb you like in particular?

As an optimist, I try to have both of these sentences in mind : « those who think it is impossible are asked not to bother people who are trying » and « if a problem has a solution, there is no need to worry; and if it does not, worrying won’t change a thing ».

A book to take with you on a desert island?

I would say « le petit prince » from Antoine de Saint Exupery. Maybe the only book I have read several times always finding new meaning.

A message to young female professionals

Choose a job that means something to you. Believe in yourself, the sky is the limit !


The questionnaire answered by the Women of Tech is a variant of the Proust questionnaire, named not because Marcel Proust got lost in the Paris metro, but in memory of Emilie du Chatelet, a woman of letters, mathematician and physicist, renowned for her translation of Newton's Principia Mathematica and the dissemination of Leibniz's physics work. She was a member of the Academy of Sciences of the Bologna Institute. Emilie du Chatelet led a free and fulfilled life during the era of the Enlightenment and published a speech on happiness.

Emilie Du Chatelet

Woman of letters, mathematician and physicist

1706 - 1749