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Aeronautical and Aerospace Engineer
Aeronautical engineering can be regarded as another branch of mechanical engineering in aviation, dealing with internal combustion engines, fuel, air-conditioning and heating, strength of materials and hydraulics.

Aeronautical engineers design, plan, develop, manufacture and test aircraft, missiles, satellites and other relevant aeronautical products and systems. They usually work as part of a team with each team member representing a different area of specialization.

Aeronautical engineers may specialize in one of the following fields:

Structural analysis: the analysis of static and dynamic loads of the airframe and the choice of construction materials and production methods to be used.

Aerodynamics: the study of airflow over an aircraft to determine its configuration, stability, control and performance and power requirements. This is often done with the aid of scale models, which are tested in a wind tunnel.

Propulsion: this involves flow mechanics, thermo-dynamics, gas dynamics and strength of materials. It entails the choice of appropriate vehicle engines. Engineers in this field of study occupy themselves with the design, development, production, assembly and testing of aircraft engines that must meet certain power and performance requirements.

Systems: this involves the definition, simulation, integration and evaluation of all subsystems of an aircraft / missile to ensure that the system meets all requirements and functions well. A systems engineer or project manager is responsible for integrating all of these fields.

Manufacture and production: this field involves ensuring that the product is of a high quality, with the application of rigid standards and stringent control throughout the production process.

Avionics: this field involves aspects such as flight instrumentation, radar, computers, navigation equipment, communication systems and sensors (height and speed).

Servo- and power-systems: the use of hydraulic and electrical systems for the stability and control of aircraft and missiles.

Certification: this involves systematic flight tests to prove that an aircraft is airworthy and performs as required.

Aerospace engineers design and develop aircraft, spacecraft, missiles, aerospace systems and components, and develop and conduct tests and computer simulations of aerospace vehicles, systems and components, as well as prepare specifications for materials and processes to be used in aerospace manufacturing, maintenance, repair or modification. They also supervise and coordinate the manufacturing, assembly modification, repair and overhaul of aircraft and spacecraft. They coordinate ground and flight tests of air and spacecraft, and they develop operational specifications, maintenance schedules and manuals for operators.

They also develop the technical phases of logistical and operational support for aerospace vehicles and systems, and they investigate and report on structural or other component or system failures, accidents or incidents and prepare recommendations for corrective action.

Aeronautical engineers and aerospace engineers generally work indoors in offices or research laboratories. The actual work setting depends on the type, size, location and financial resources of the employer and the skill, experience and area of specialization of the engineer.

Engineering graduates usually begin work under the supervision of experienced engineers and are gradually given more responsibilities as they gain experience. Some engineers with experience and additional education move into administration or management. Many high-level executives in industry began their careers in engineering.   

Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering Technician
Aeronautical or aerospace engineering technicians work with engineers and scientists to design and produce aircraft, missiles and spacecraft. They help engineers to prepare layouts and models of structures, control systems and equipment installations by gathering information, making calculations and performing laboratory tests. They prepare or check drawings for technical accuracy, practicability and economy.

Some aeronautical engineering technicians work as representatives for manufacturers and serve as a link between the company and customers, which would entail some travelling. Others prepare technical information for manuals, bulletins, catalogues and other literature.

Aeronautical or Aerospace Engineering Technologist
Aeronautical or aerospace engineering technologists assist aeronautical and aerospace engineers in designing, manufacturing and testing aircraft and spacecraft. From the creation of a model to the creation of an actual life-size aircraft or spacecraft, the involvement of an aeronautical or aerospace engineering technologist is of vital importance, since the aerodynamics of the craft has to be tested thoroughly. The safety of the aircraft or spacecraft is thoroughly checked, after which the technologist recommends any changes and modifications considered necessary to the engineers.

Aeronautical and aerospace engineering technologists also upgrade and maintain the safety features of aircraft already in use. Before a rudder flight, a technologist ensures that all features, planned and prepared by the engineers, have in fact been implemented.

Thus, aeronautical and aerospace engineering technologists have to be generalists in this field while being experts in all aspects of aerodynamics and aircraft safety. They work both indoors in offices, using computers, with computer-aided design and other software programmes and computerized blue-prints, as well as in hangars and sometimes outdoors (aerodromes or test sites).

Satisfying Aspects
- challenges and variety of work
- opportunity to specialize in an area of one's interest
- the possibility of making advances that will help people in general
- solving difficult problems

Demanding aspects
- the long preparation necessary before you can be registered as a professional engineer
- frustration when not being able to solve a problem
- working long hours to complete a project
- having to continue your education throughout your career to keep up with the latest technological advances in your field

An aeronautical engineer should:
- be curious and creative;
- have above average ability in Mathematics and Physical Science;
- good communication skills, both verbal and written
- be able to work well with others and have leadership qualities;
- be responsible;
- perfectionist - errors can easily result in the loss of human lives

School Subjects
National Senior Certificate meeting degree requirements for a degree course
National Senior Certificate meeting diploma requirements for a diploma course

Each institution will have its own minimum entry requirements.

Compulsory Subjects: Mathematics, Physical Sciences
Recommended Subjects: Information Technology, Engineering Graphics and Design

Note: The Engineering Faculties of some universities offer a support programme to help students to become self-sufficient and capable of completing the very demanding engineering course. The programme is aimed at students from communities which lack proper education facilities. Only students with a matric exemption with a minimum of a D symbol (Higher Grade) in Mathematics and Physical Science will be considered.

Degree: Universities offering BSc (Eng) with aeronautical subjects - UP and Wits

The University of Pretoria offers a BSc degree with aeronautical subjects at undergraduate level. At the University of the Witwatersrand, students can follow a four-year course in Mechanical Engineering, specializing in Aeronautics.

A person who has obtained a recognized BSc (Eng) or BEng degree is eligible for registration as an Engineer in Training. After gaining at least 3 years of appropriate practical experience, an aeronautical engineer may register as a Professional Engineer under the auspices of the Engineering Council of South Africa.

- Department of Transport - Civil Aviation Division
- commercial and private airlines
- Denel Aviation
- South African Airways
- South African Air and Defence Forces
- large organization, such as Armscor, Kentron, CSIR
- self-employment - a qualified aeronautical engineer, with the necessary experience in this field, can work as a consultant for one or more of the above-mentioned companies

The Director
SA Institute for Aeronautical Engineers
P O Box 2335
Pretoria, 0002

South African Civil Aviation Authority (SACAA)   
Tel: (011) 545-1000 Fax: (011) 545-1465

Engineering Council of South Africa (ECSA)
Private Bag X 691
Bruma, 2026   
Tel: (011) 607-9500 Fax: (011) 622-9295

SA Air Force
Private Bag X 199
Pretoria, 0001
Tel: (012) 312-2911

South African National Defence Force (SANDF)    
Media Liaison Officer:
Department of Defence Information Centre
Tel: (012) 355-6372/3
Fax: (012) 355-6398
E-mail: or

The Chief of Defence Corporate Communication
Private Bag X 16
Pretoria, 0001