Brandon Kunicki, Manager,
C-17 Nacelle Design Group
The Boeing Company
Long Beach, California

So what's your story?

I have a Bachelor's degree in Aerospace Engineering Technology from California State Polytechnic University, which I earned in 1985. Fresh out of college, I started at McDonnell Douglas (now Boeing) in the Structures Department during the initial design phase of the C-17 airlifter. I took a short hiatus to pursue other opportunities, but returned to the C-17 program in 1992 where I've been ever since.

What drew you to aerospace engineering?

My interest in aviation started while building models as a child and progressed as I read aviation history books and went to airshows with my dad. I had a dream to design, build, and fly my own aircraft someday. Engineering seemed to be a perfect fit to help me achieve that goal. In fact, for my senior project in college, I designed my own “flying wing” aircraft and tested it in a wind tunnel to predict its performance.

What do you do at work?

As manager of the C-17 Nacelle Design Group, my team supports the entire system from design through maintenance. This includes manufacture of the C-17's Engine Nacelle systems at our suppliers, installation onto the aircraft on the assembly line, and technical support to our depots and our USAF and foreign customers' maintenance teams. The days are diverse and challenging as we address issues to keep the production line moving when a system or component isn't performing as expected.

Tell us about a recent accomplishment.

Our customers were having operational challenges with an Engine Thrust Reverser. This led us to form a team consisting of engineering, quality, the Air Force, our primary supplier, and our repair depot. Together, we were able to develop a procedure that maximized functionality yet minimized aerodynamic drag.

The best part of your job?

Undoubtedly, the people I get to work with. The technical issues are challenging, but seeing a team of experts from various disciplines come together to solve a complex problem is especially rewarding. It can be very difficult to get strong willed engineers to reach agreement among competing priorities.

What keeps you busy outside of work?

I graduated from Airframe & Powerplant aircraft mechanics school in 1982, received my private pilot's license in 1985, and upgraded to the commercial pilot's license in 1992. I've owned a number of light aircraft over the years. The oldest was built in 1928 and the newest in 1946. My current restoration project is a 1943 U.S. Navy SNJ-4 “Texan” advanced training aircraft. I've also volunteered at the Planes of Fame Air Museum for the past 25 years. They have an amazing collection of flyable WWII aircraft and have begun to expand their collection of flyable Korean and Vietnam War era aircraft. My family keeps me busy too — I have a wife and a 2-year-old son who seems to like airplanes as well, never failing to point out every one he sees.

What's the best thing about living and working in Los Angeles?

Fantastic weather and the variety of activities available within a short drive. We get 300+ good days a year to fly light aircraft.