7 Major Differences Between Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

(Last Updated On: April 12, 2022)

Do you want to be an aerospace engineer?


Do you want to be an aeronautical engineer?

If you want to be in any of these engineering fields then you must know the difference between aerospace and aeronautical engineering.

These are

#1 Key Difference

The key difference between aerospace and aeronautical engineering is that aeronautical engineering deals with the vehicles that fly through the earth’s atmosphere such as airplanes, and helicopters missiles.

Aerospace engineering deals with vehicles that operate beyond the earth’s atmosphere such as rockets, and spacecraft.

#2 Field of Study

Aerospace engineering and Aeronautical engineering may appear different to a layman but their field of study seems merged in many sectors.

While designing a space probe or a rocket an aerospace engineer should go through the concept of aerodynamics which is extensively used by aeronautical engineers for the designing of aircraft.

Similarly, an aeronautical engineer designing a missile should apply the concept of rocket propulsion and soma avionics and programming models used in rocket design.

#3 Uses in Field

Aerospace engineers and Aeronautical engineers use aerodynamics to design aircraft and spacecraft. A rocket designed by an aerospace engineer is susceptible to aerodynamic forces in the earth’s atmosphere, in the same way, it is acting on an aircraft.

Lift, Weight, Thrush, and Drag are aerodynamic forces that act on an aircraft. Lift is the upward force that acts against gravity,

Weight is the downward force, thrust is the forward force which is generated by the engine and drag is the force opposite to thrust mostly caused due to air resistance.

In the rocket, most of the time lift and drag are the two main forces that act while it is moving through the atmosphere. When it reaches outside of the atmosphere these forces will not affect the rocket.

So an aerospace engineer designing a rocket should consider both atmospheric and space conditions, but the aeronautical engineer only needs to consider the effect of the atmosphere on the aircraft.

#4 Propulsion System

The engine is the heart of every vehicle. The aeronautical and aerospace engineers study the subject called propulsion but there is some difference in the application of this subject in the real life of aeronautical and aerospace engineers.

The propulsion system of the flying vehicles can be classified as airbreathing and non-airbreathing engines.

The Air-breathing engine is used in vehicles that fly through the atmosphere. It intakes atmospheric oxygen and burns fuel in the combustion chamber. Aeronautical engineers are usually dealing with this kind of engines

The engines used in space rockets are not able to intake atmospheric oxygen. So an oxidizer is carried along with the fuel.

Most multistage rockets use liquid fuel and oxidizers in their upper stage. So the engine designed by an aerospace engineer is different from the engine designed for an aircraft by an aeronautical engineer.

#5 Global Exposure

Aeronautical engineering and Astronautical engineering are the two fields of study derived from aerospace engineering. So there are a lot of similarities between these fields.

Aerospace engineering is given more global exposure than aeronautical engineering, which is one of the key differences between aerospace and aeronautical engineering.

In aerospace engineering, you will learn about aircraft and spacecraft but an aeronautical engineer is only needed to learn about aircraft and other flying vehicles that flew through the atmosphere.

#6 Job Opportunities

The aerospace and aeronautical engineering sector in India is underdevelopment stage in India.

So aerospace and aeronautical engineering professionals may not get opportunities as same as developed countries.

India’s public sector companies like HAL, DRDO, ADE, ISRO, and NAL are recruiting both aerospace and aeronautical engineers.

Private sector companies like Mahindra Aerospace, Taneja Aerospace, Tata Advanced Systems, and L&T are recruiting aerospace engineers.

In India, both aerospace and aeronautical engineering have equal job opportunities.

#7 Types of Jobs

There are comparatively better job opportunities available for aeronautical engineers in European countries and the united states because the aeronautical industries are well flourishing there.

Aerospace engineers also have a lot of opportunities to work in both government space agencies and private space companies.

Aerospace engineers are also eligible to work in aeronautical industries so the opportunities for aerospace engineers are slightly higher than for aeronautical engineers.

An aerospace and aeronautical engineer can do jobs in many similar fields and the tools they use are also the same in many areas.

For example, the design engineers in the aerospace and aeronautical field may use the same kind of designing software.

Design engineers, aircraft maintenance engineers, and Unmanned vehicles engineers are some of the jobs in aeronautical engineering.

Payload design engineer and mission specialist, design engineers are some of the aerospace engineering jobs.


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