What Is Aeronautical Engineering? Definition and Career Tips

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 27 July 2021

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Aeronautical engineering is a popular branch of engineering for those who are interested in the design and construction of flight machines and aircraft. However, there are several requirements in terms of skills, educational qualifications and certifications that you must meet in order to become an aeronautical engineer. Knowing more about those requirements may help you make an informed career decision. In this article, we define aeronautical engineering and discover what aeronautical engineers do, their career outlook, salary and skills.

What is aeronautical engineering?

Aeronautical engineering is the science of designing, manufacturing, testing and maintaining flight-capable machines. These machines can include satellites, jets, space shuttles, helicopters, military aircraft and missiles. Aeronautical engineers also are responsible for researching and developing new technologies that make flight machines and vehicles more efficient and function better.

What do aeronautical engineers do?

Aeronautical engineers might have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Planning aircraft project goals, budgets, timelines and work specifications

  • Assessing the technical and financial feasibility of project proposals

  • Designing, manufacturing and testing different kinds of aircraft

  • Developing aircraft defence technologies

  • Drafting and finalising new designs for flight machine parts

  • Testing and modifying existing aircraft and aircraft parts

  • Conducting design evaluations to ensure compliance with environmental and safety guidelines

  • Checking damaged or malfunctioning aircraft and finding possible solutions

  • Researching new technologies to develop and implement in existing and upcoming aircraft

  • Gathering, processing and analysing data to understand aircraft system failures

  • Applying processed data in-flight simulations to develop better functioning aircraft

  • Writing detailed manuals and protocols for aircraft

  • Working on existing and new space exploration and research technologies

  • Providing consultancy services for private and military manufacturers to develop and sell aircraft

What is the salary of an aeronautical engineer?

The salary of an aeronautical engineer can vary, depending on their educational qualifications, work experience, specialised skills, employer and location. The national average salary for aeronautical engineers is ₹2,77,920 per year.

Is aeronautical engineering a good career?

If you have a background in mathematics and a desire for discovering the science behind aircraft, then aeronautical engineering can be a good career for you. This profession can give you immense job satisfaction, knowing that you are helping people around the world fly safely. You may also get a chance to travel the world and test new, innovative tools and technologies. With increased focus on reducing noise and improving fuel efficiency of aeroplanes, there are plenty of job opportunities for skilled aeronautical engineers.

You can choose to specialise in the design, testing and maintenance of certain types of aircraft. For instance, some engineers may focus on commercial jets, helicopters or drones, while others may concentrate on military aircraft, rockets, space shuttles, satellites or missiles.

Related: Utilise Your Aptitude to Find the Right Career

How to become an aeronautical engineer

To become an aeronautical engineer, take the following steps:

1. Gain a diploma in aeronautical engineering

After passing your class 10 examination with maths and science subjects, you can enrol in an aeronautical engineer diploma course. Some course may select candidates based on their marks in the 10th class. Most diploma course require at least 50% marks. The duration of a diploma course is usually three years. You will study the different aspects of aircraft design, development, manufacture, maintenance and safe operation.

2. Earn a bachelor's degree in an aeronautical engineering

For gettong admission to a B.Tech college aeronautical engineer course, you need to complete your 10+2 in the science stream, with physics, chemistry and mathematics. You must also clear the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE) Main. If you want to get admission into the Indian Institutes of Information Technology (IITs) and the National Institute of Information Technology (NIIT), you must clear the JEE Advanced exam.

The four-year engineering course covers general engineering studies and specialised aeronautics topics like mechanical engineering fundamentals, thermodynamics, vibration, aircraft flight dynamics, flight software systems, avionics and aerospace propulsion.

3. Get an associate membership of the Aeronautical Society of India

The Aeronautical Society of India conducts the Associate Membership Examination twice a year. Recognised by the Central Government and the Ministry of Education, it is equivalent to a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering. The examination's eligibility criteria is 10+2 with physics, chemistry and maths and at least 50% marks in each. You are also eligible if you have a diploma in aeronautical engineering, a diploma in aircraft maintenance engineering or a Bachelor of Science degree.

4. Pursue a master's degree in aeronautical engineering

To get into a master's degree programme, you must have a bachelor's degree in aeronautical engineering or a related field. You must also clear the Graduate Aptitude Test in Engineering (GATE). You can be eligible for a master's program if you have a four-year engineering degree, a five-year architecture degree or a master's degree in mathematics, statistics, computer applications or science. Degrees in optical engineering, ceramic engineering, industrial engineering, biomedical engineering, oceanography, metallurgy and chemistry are also acceptable.

5. Obtain a PhD in aeronautical engineering

You must clear the University Grants Commission National Eligibility Test (UGC-NET) to be able to pursue a doctorate degree. A PhD degree can help you to get promoted in your company. It is also helpful if you want to work as a professor in aeronautical engineering colleges. Additionally, you can pursue alternative careers such as AI, robotics, data science and consulting.

6. Do an internship and send out job applications.

Doing an internship with aeronautical companies can provide you with sound, on-the-job training and help you grow your contacts in the industry. Many degree programmes offer internships as part of their aeronautical courses. Find out the availability of internships before applying to a college. When sending out job applications, customise your cover letter and resume as per employer requirements.

Related: Professional Resume Samples to Help You Land a Job

Useful skills for aeronautical engineers

Aeronautical engineers will benefit career-wise from developing the following skills:

  • Analytical skills: you must be able to analyse the information you collect or receive, understand why something worked fine or failed and amend your project plans accordingly.

  • Maths and physics skills: a strong understanding of mathematics and physics is essential to make the correct calculations when designing aircraft and understand the scientific flight principles.

  • Communication skills: aeronautical work is collaborative in nature and you will have to share and explain technical information.

  • Creative abilities: creative thinking and the ability to innovate are essential skills for working with cutting-edge technology and enhancing the existing ones.

  • Attention to detail: since small details can mean the between safety and disaster in this field, it is essential to be vigilant and pay attention to even seemingly minor aspects of a project.

Aeronautical engineering vs aerospace engineering

While many people think aeronautical engineering and aerospace engineering are the same things, they are different. Aerospace engineering is the principal field of study. Its two branches are aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering. People who work in aeronautical engineering are concerned with aircraft that fly in the earth's atmosphere, such as planes, helicopters and drones. The focus of aerospace engineering is on space machines that can go beyond the earth's atmosphere, such as rockets, satellites and space shuttles.

Where can aeronautical engineers find work?

Aeronautical engineers are in demand in a broad range of industries. As an aeronautical engineer, you can find work in many areas, such as:

  • Government aircraft manufacturing companies

  • Government airlines

  • Department of civil aviation

  • Armed forces

  • Defense research and development organisations

  • Private aircraft manufacturing firms

  • Private air services

  • Academia

  • Aeronautical laboratories

  • ISRO and other space research centres

  • Aviation consultancy firms

Aeronautical engineering jobs

The aeronautical engineering field encompasses a range of job options. With an aeronautical degree, you can work as:

1. Avionics engineer

National average salary: ₹3,09,649 per year

Primary duties: Avionics engineers design, develop and program avionics instrumentation for aircraft, spacecraft and satellites. They monitor and test electrical communication systems, navigation systems, flight safety systems and landing gear.

Related: What Is Electrical Engineering? Definition and Opportunities

2. Modeling engineer

National average salary: ₹12,06,429 per year

Primary duties: Modeling engineers are also known as simulation engineers. They use virtual environments to investigate how aircraft and other flying machines might perform. They will also test them for durability and functionality. It is safer and less expensive to use a virtual environment than to carry out performance tests in real life.

3. System engineer

National average salary: ₹5,60,673 per year

Primary duties: System engineers identify the technical, maintenance and operational problems related to aircraft and other machines. They devise the right solutions for malfunctions and carry out necessary repairs. They work on enhancing the safety, efficiency and reliability of aircraft systems.

4. Test engineer

National average salary: ₹4,29,601 per year

Primary duties: Test engineers conduct performance testing to ensure aircraft safety. They decide what they want to accomplish with a test, assist their team in preparing and rehearsing for the test and work with test pilots to plan and execute the flight test. They collect and analyse the results of the test and write detailed reports.

5. Propulsion engineer

National average salary: ₹3,34,123 per year

Primary duties: Propulsion engineers design, build and maintain propulsion systems for commercial aircraft, spacecraft and missiles. They will check the performance and productivity of propulsion systems, identify potential problems and fix these before carrying out system installations. They use various testing methods, including simulation testing.

Salary figures reflect data listed on Indeed Salaries at time of writing.

Please note that none of the companies mentioned in this article are affiliated with Indeed.

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