Interview with Alexander Bauduin

Alexandre Bauduin, Test Automation Engineer at Consulteer Switzerland, shares in an interview a bit about his background and interests. Find out more in the interview.

Alexandre, can you tell us a bit about your professional journey and how you came to be a test automation engineer having been an airline pilot?

It is the other way around: Why after being into software and hardware development/testing I became an airline pilot?

My first job was in aerospace and it was a revelation. Started with specification, design, code, test, automate checks, integrate, deliver (some of my code is really “flying”)!. Then came project management to a point where to know more about the airborne systems I was working on, the only choice was to be an end-user: An airline. I opened the books, worked harder than before to be one of those guys flying the big jets. From a software and industry point of view, it is like “use the product as a real end-user” or “have the final user with your developers”.

Can you pinpoint one moment or person that was instrumental in your decision to pick this career path?

I could have stayed in cockpits like most of my colleagues but the golden era of aviation was gone. The good money, nice hotels, and long layovers are things of the past. I realized that I would bring more the industry by being “on the ground” rather than flying passengers A to B.

What’s the most challenging situation you’ve encountered as an airline pilot and as a test automation engineer so far?

As a pilot, the hardest situation was a total loss of hydraulic power during a flight: The primary and secondary hydraulic systems both died at the same time. No precise idea about the damages and overall airplane status but your brain works fast: Will the brakes still works, how much control do I have with no hydraulic power, what is the message we are going to deliver to the cabin and the passengers? What is the right sequence of actions so we are all alive at the end of that flight? No, you cannot fix the bug in Git, trigger a new build/test in Jenkins and try again, in aviation terms a bug could be “Game over”.

As an engineer, it was the day where I said “No” to a very (very) high ranked person asking for a dashboard about testing status. It ended up being the right answer to give. Or it could also be a two nanosecond glitch that I had to chase for weeks into an airborne computer (the joy to have found a way to reproduce that bug!).

Why is testing so important in aviation?

Testing alone cannot make aviation safer, but it contributes to measuring objectively and subjectively some dimensions of the system. What is really particular in testing and checking in aviation is the “And what if….” attitude shown by people from that industry. You cannot throw an exception and say that you will look later at the logs or the core dump to understand what happened.

What do you enjoy doing outside of the office?

Besides time with the family, I still enjoy developing some electronics for my flight simulator at home: A 3D printer, an oscilloscope, a soldering iron, a C++ cross compiler, some smooth jazz and I am all set.