Aeronautical engineering is the aspect of aerospace engineering that concentrates on air travel within the earth's atmosphere, whereas astronautical engineering focuses on flight in the Earth's atmosphere and beyond. Overcoming the gravitational bonds of Earth is the main goal of aeronautical engineers, making it easier for people to travel far distances.
Aeronautical engineers work on different ways of launching machines into sustainable flight. Figuring out how to overcome gravity within the earth's atmosphere is at the heart of this endeavor. Depending on the requirements of an aeronautical project, engineers choose from a variety of solutions, such as propellers, jet engines and gases that are lighter than air. They determine the shape and materials of the aircraft, establishing an aerodynamic profile according to the purpose of the craft.
Aeronautical Engineer Duties
Military and commercial clients usually dictate projects created by aeronautical engineers. Engineers are responsible for the feasibility and safety of their designs. Designs must be both technologically feasible and fit within the budget of the client. This involves the application of aviation science and engineering and establishing that the aircraft works under the required environments and operating conditions. Aeronautical engineers monitor testing and manufacturing aspects for their aircraft. Engineers also work to repair damaged or malfunctioning machinery.
In addition to designing the shape, materials and method of propulsion for aircraft, aeronautical engineers must also take care of smaller but equally vital flight systems. They frequently specialize in specific aspects of aeronautical engineering. Control, guidance and navigation systems ensure that the craft travels to its appropriate destination. Communication systems and flight instrumentation provide pilots and ground support with vital data and telemetry. Aeronautical engineers may also choose to specialize in specific types of craft, such as missiles, helicopters or commuter planes.
Work Environment and Compensation
The majority of work performed by aeronautical engineers takes place in offices, using powerful computers to design and test their models with sophisticated software. They also work in hangars when necessary, inspecting aircraft to determine performance or solve issues that require repair. Working long hours may be required when meeting deadlines. Aeronautical engineers are compensated more than most engineers for their expertise. As of May 2010, they make an average of $97,480 per year, above the $83,340 yearly average of engineering occupations as a whole.
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