Aeronautical Engineers

“Aeronautics was neither an industry nor a science. It was a miracle.” -  Igor Sikorsky

Aeronautical Engineering is an engineering discipline that deals with the design, development, construction and maintenance of aircrafts that are found within the earth’s atmosphere. It mostly revolves around civil and military aircrafts and also includes study of missiles and weapon systems. Aeronautical Engineers are Engineers who create designs and work towards improving various aspects of aircrafts including flight safety, costs and efficiency. They are also involved in making aircrafts and flight travel more environmental friendly. Some specialize in particular fields within Aeronautical Engineering such as aerodynamics, propulsion systems or electronic control systems. Simply put, Aeronautical Engineers are vital to each stage in the production of an aircraft, from its design to testing, from the construction to operations and from the inspection to maintenance. It is their job to ensure that their designs are effective and help create safe, economical and reliable aircrafts.

Aeronautical Engineers work with a variety of aviation equipment and aircrafts such as passenger planes, fighter jets, helicopters, stealth jets etc. This can be a very successful career if you have the right aptitude. It is well paying and has great growth opportunities in the future as more and more airlines are coming up and the Defense Services are leaning more towards using aircrafts for warfare. Aeronautical Engineers are usually hired by Defense Services, Aircraft Component Manufacturers, Private Airline Companies and Engineering Service Firms. Some Aeronautical Engineers also work in companies who are involved in the manufacturing of navigation instruments and control systems.

What do Aeronautical Engineers do?

Aeronautical Engineers are responsible for creating aircrafts that are functional and effective. They are involved in creating designs for these aircrafts and then ensuring that the aircraft is built strictly as per that design. Some are also involved in the inspection and maintenance of manufactured aircrafts.

It is very important for Aeronautical Engineers to understand the objective that the aircraft is supposed to achieve before working on the design. This is vital as the design for a passenger plane might focus on space and safety, but a design for a fighter jet might focus more on speed and ammunition. Aeronautical Engineers discuss the requirements with clients and conduct research regarding the various technologies that are to be incorporated within the aircraft.

The main job of an Aeronautical Engineer is to create effective, safe and reliable designs for aircrafts. These designs are created using computer software keeping the objectives of the aircraft in mind. It is the job of an Aeronautical Engineer to focus on the details in the design and ensure that it is created to the best of his/her abilities and incorporates all the requirements of the client.

After creating a design, Aeronautical Engineers are involved in creating prototypes of the aircraft design. These prototypes are like samples of the aircraft and help them test the design as well as showcase the functioning of the design to the client. These prototypes are crucial to the manufacturing process of aircrafts.

Once the prototypes have been built, they are put through rigorous tests designed by Aeronautical Engineers themselves. These tests are meant to reveal the deficiencies and problems in the design, if any. Aeronautical Engineers conduct various tests and write detailed reports about these tests. They are also involved in making corrections to the design and the prototype if it does not function properly and fails in any of the tests.

Aeronautical Engineers are also responsible for deciding whether the design and the prototype are fit to be used for mass manufacturing or not. This is a very important decision as there are massive amounts of money and legal implications that are involved. Aeronautical Engineers carefully study the design and work on the prototype till it achieves perfection and clears all the necessary tests. They initiate the manufacturing process only when they are completely satisfied with the prototype and the design.

Once the manufacturing process starts, Aeronautical Engineers have to ensure that the aircrafts are manufactured strictly as per the blueprint of the design and the approved prototype. They supervise other engineers and mechanics that are involved in the process of manufacturing aircrafts and ensure that the correct materials are used and no laws or safety regulations are violated.

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Many Aeronautical Engineers are involved in the maintenance and repair of aircrafts. It is their job to conduct regular surveys and tests and ensure that the aircraft is in perfect working condition. If any problems are found, then it is their job to repair or replace the faulty parts. They are also involved in working on performance related aspects of aircrafts including top speed, safety etc. They are constantly finding ways to improve these aspects and repair aircrafts that are not performing at the desired level.

A very important task that Aeronautical Engineers perform is project management and budgeting. It is a part of their job to take the responsibility of the overall construction of the aircraft, from its conceptualization to its maintenance. They guide subordinates and ensure that the aircraft is designed, manufactured and maintained as per the required standards. They are also involved in creating budgets for the manufacturing process and ensuring that those budgets are adhered to.

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How to become an Aeronautical Engineer?

Becoming an Aeronautical Engineer is not an easy task as it involves years of study and hard work. It is a very technical field and requires a person to have the right aptitude and skills in order to become successful.

To become an Aeronautical Engineer, you should focus on Math, Science and English during school. You will have to choose the Science stream after your Class 10th and study subjects like Math, Physics and Chemistry in great detail.

Pursuing graduate degrees in Aeronautical Engineering is mandatory if you want to join this profession. Most colleges would only admit you into the course if you manage to qualify in their engineering entrance exam. It is to be kept in mind that these entrance exams are competitive and require a lot of preparation.

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Admission will be granted into the Aeronautical Engineering course once you qualify in the entrance examination. Graduate courses in this field will help you learn in detail about technical designs and drawings and the functioning of aircrafts. You can also choose to pursue a Post Graduate degree afterwards to get better jobs and bigger pay packages.

As this is a very technical field, it requires years of experience and industry knowledge for one to become successful. Working as an intern in companies related to manufacturing aircrafts or other aviation related equipment can be very helpful for aspiring Aeronautical Engineers. You will not only get vital experience, but will also learn about the functioning of the industry and the profession.

Proficiency in aircraft designing and related software is essential if you want to become an Aeronautical Engineer. Such software will help you create effective designs and also test them in simulated conditions.

An alternative route to join the Aeronautical Engineering field is through the Indian Air Force. You can join the technical branch of the Air Force and work towards ensuring the aircrafts are in optimum condition. You will be eligible to join the Air Force through the University Entry Scheme if you are male and in the pre – final year of your BE/B.Tech course. Men and Women can also join the technical branch of the Air Force if they are in their final year or have completed their engineering course provided that they meet the eligibility criteria. Your admissions will be based on a written test, a face to face interview and practical tests.

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India has a lot of institutions that offer great courses in Aeronautical Engineering and related fields. IIT Kharagpur and IIT Madras offer excellent undergraduate courses in Aerospace Engineering which is a slightly wider field than Aeronautical Engineering as it also includes the study of spacecrafts. You will be awarded with a B.Tech degree in Aerospace Engineering upon graduation. IIT Kharagpur also offers an M.Tech degree in Aerospace Engineering. IIT Bombay and IIT Kanpur are also famous for their courses in Aerospace Engineering. Manipal Institute of Technology, Karnataka also offers a great course in Aeronautical Engineering. You will be awarded with a B.Tech in Aeronautical Engineering upon graduation.

What are the skills required to become an Aeronautical Engineer?

Aeronautical Engineers are highly intelligent and skilled professionals who have a strong knowledge base in engineering, design and computer science. They are required to have excellent numerical and analytical ability. It is important for Aeronautical Engineers to be able to focus on minute details and prioritize safety. They should have exceptional managerial skills and should be comfortable in working in teams as well as alone. They need to be excellent communicators and should be able to lead a team and make quick decisions to solve problems. Aeronautical Engineers should be very good in technical drawing and drafting and should also be creative and innovative at the same time.

Is this the right career for me?

Aeronautical Engineers work for very long hours in front of their computers creating designs or at manufacturing sites. They have to constantly meet deadlines and work under a lot of pressure as the responsibility of the entire manufacturing project is on their shoulders. The job involves constant research but also provides professionals with the opportunity to grow in their careers and reap financial rewards.

If you’re not comfortable with technical subjects like Math and Physics, and if you’re looking for a job that provides you with fame, glamour and adventure, then this isn’t the right career for you. But if you’re fascinated by the world of aircrafts and airplanes, and if you’re looking for a career that offers job security and good pay packages, then this is an ideal profession for you.

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