View Full Version : what is the difference between aircraft engineering and aeronautical engineering

7th Feb 2008, 13:38
Hi folks

Can you please tell me what is the difference between aircraft engineering and aeronautical engineering.

My college are telling me that it is just the course name that has changed but im unsure.

Is there a particular difference between them as I suspect? Or infact are they not to dissimilar? What are the defferences if any?

Responses would be greatfully appreciated!

7th Feb 2008, 14:25
Quite a big difference actually. Go here to have a look at the syllabus for an MEng Aero eng degree and compare it to an Aircraft Eng course:


Hope this helps.

7th Feb 2008, 15:18
Many years ago - like a lifetime - at City University Aircraft Engineering course were about maintenance, performance, operation, structures, etc so biased towards airline jobs. Aeronautical Eng was about aerodynamics, stability & control, structures, etc so was more biased towards working for a manufacturer. I did aero eng and went to work for BAE at Warton. We had little contact with guys doing Air Eng who went to work for BA.
You could ask questions of your college like that - who could I work for with this qualification?

7th Feb 2008, 16:06
Aeronautical Eng is heavily theoretical ,stability, computational fluid dynamics, aerodynamics, finite element analysis etc.
Aircraft Eng is more practical based involving various licences which allow certification / repair of various systems eg avionics hydraulics etc in a real time on the line environment.
Or to put it another way Aero Eng is what Manufacturers want. Aircraft Eng is what the Airlines want.
They are definitely not the same. Hope this helps.

Mike Strutter
7th Feb 2008, 17:06
Dont know about Aircraft Engineering but i would guess its specific to aircraft.

Aeronautical Engineering is very broad in its coverage with much more emphasis on general engineering techniques.

Of my graduating class and the people that ended up working in engineering (some went off into Banking/Finance);

One works for Renault cars as an design engineer in their structures dept, one works for McLaren/Merc as an aerodynamacist with their F1 team .
Two work with Qinetiq on advanced military systems (not aircraft related).
Two work with a major developer of Guided Missile systems.
One works for Airbus.

hope that helps.

7th Feb 2008, 19:50
hey thanks for the info. I am very grateful. My interest lies with aeronautical engineering i think. Which leads me to my next question! Which of these two courses would be most beneficial with the prospect of doing commercial pilot training. With the appreciation of how rare pilot jobs appear to be at the moment, i want the best chance of getting a really good career to fall back on which is highly likely! I think what i am saying is i want a great career in aviation and to become a commercial pilot would be a bonus. Finally i apoligise for grammer etc as am writing this via my new mobile and cant even work it yet. Thanks for previous replies you have been very very helpful!

8th Feb 2008, 03:01
Have you thought about going to the US? Dollar is weak and there are plenty of opportunities in the US if you look for them. Kansas is flat, hot and windy but a great place if you like airplanes!


In Kansas you can find:
http://www.cessnaflyingclub.org/ (best rates in the world)

In 1914-1915, oil (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Petroleum) was discovered nearby and Wichita became a major oil center. The money derived from oil allowed local entrepreneurs to invest in a nascent airplane industry. In 1917, the first plane, the Cessna Comet, was manufactured in Wichita. Forty-three Swallows, the first airplanes made specifically for production, were built in Wichita between 1920 and 1923. This industry, coinciding with Wichita as a test center for new aviation, established Wichita as the "Air Capital." Lloyd Stearman and Walter Beech were employees of the Swallow company, but in January 1925 they left Swallow Aircraft and teamed up with Clyde Cessna to form Travel Air. Lloyd Stearman left the company in 1926 to start Stearman Aircraft in Venice, California. Cessna quit in January 1927 to start Cessna (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna). Stearman would only be gone from Wichita for a year before returning.
Travel Air with Walter Beech at the helm grew to the point of employing over 600 workers and working in a huge factory complex constructed from 1927 to 1929. Employing so many workers at such a large complex and being a few miles outside the city limits it was tagged "Travel Air City" by Wichita residents. The company merged with the huge Curtis Wright Corporation in the Roaring Twenties (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Roaring_Twenties)' heyday of company buyouts and takeovers just two months before the Stock Market crash in 1929. Workers were laid off by the hundreds during 1930 and more so in 1931. By the fall of 1932 all workers were let go in Wichita, equipment was sold and the entire Travel Air plant sat empty.
In March 1932 Walter quit Curtis Wright to form Beech Aircraft (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beech_Aircraft) with his wife Olive Ann and hired Ted Wells as his chief engineer. The first four or five "Beechcraft" were built in the vacant Cessna Aircraft plant which was also closed during the depression. Beech later leased and then bought the Travel Air plant from Curtis Wright and men, machinery, and an airplane or two were moved from the Cessna plant. The first aircraft was the Model 17, later dubbed the "Staggerwing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Staggerwing)" which was first flown on November 5, 1932. The aircraft that would propel the small company into a huge corporation was the Model 18 "Twin Beech," of which thousands were built from 1937 to 1969. The Staggerwing production ended in 1946 with approximately 750 built and a few more assembled from parts in 1947. The Staggerwing production was replaced by the Beechcraft Bonanza (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Beechcraft_Bonanza), although there are still nearly 100 Staggerwings in existence, most in usable condition.
The city experienced a population explosion during World War II (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/World_War_II) when it became a major manufacturing center for airplanes needed in the war effort. By 1945, 4.2 bombers were being produced daily in Wichita. Stearman (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Stearman) Aircraft, later purchased by the Boeing (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Boeing) Company, was founded in Wichita, as were Beech Aircraft (now called Hawker Beechcraft), Cessna (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Cessna) Aircraft, and LearJet (now Bombardier (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bombardier)). The city remains a major manufacturing center for the aircraft industry today, with all of these and Airbus (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Airbus) still having major centers there, hence its nickname: "The Air Capital."

8th Feb 2008, 03:08
Other sites that could be of interest:

8th Feb 2008, 03:13
Now if you really want to make connections in Wichita I suggest you figure out how to join the Ancient and Sacred Order of Quiet Birdmen :)

9th Feb 2008, 04:47
Or to put it another way Aero Eng is what Manufacturers want. Aircraft Eng is what the Airlines want.
They are definitely not the same. Hope this helps.

That is the best explanation that I have ever heard. And i have had this very question asked several times in the past.


9th Feb 2008, 21:56
One more thing. If you decide to attend Engineering School in the US make sure the program is accredited by ABET.


ABET, Inc., the recognized accreditor for college and university programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and technology, is a federation of 28 professional and technical societies representing these fields. Among the most respected accreditation organizations in the U.S., ABET has provided leadership and quality assurance in higher education for over 70 years.
ABET currently accredits some 2,700 programs at over 550 colleges and universities nationwide. Over 1,500 dedicated volunteers participate annually in ABET activities.
ABET also provides leadership internationally through workshops (http://www.abet.org/workint.shtml), consultancies, memoranda of understanding (http://www.abet.org/global.shtml), and mutual recognition agreements (http://www.abet.org/mut_reco.shtml), such as the Washington Accord (http://www.washingtonaccord.org/).
ABET is recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (http://www.chea.org/).

Pugilistic Animus
9th Feb 2008, 22:10
and also here in the US don't expect to spend too much time in your chosen field for about 2 years [maybe aerodynamics]
because you must cover physics, and mathematics first---:{

however, if you can prove equivalent competence in, for instance, differential equations or Error analysis, then you maybe skipped--- but US has great engineering opportunities---jobs well it depends on the market---