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What does an aeronautical engineer do?

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What does an aeronautical engineer do?

Old 6th Jun 2019, 01:30
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What does an aeronautical engineer do?

Forgive the silly question, but if you're employed to Boeing or Airbus as an aeronautical engineer, and the company's not working on a new design, what would your duties involve? Presumably, there's still lots of engineering to be done, but what exactly would that entail?
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 03:20
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WOW! It could be ANYTHING!

If not working on a new design (seldom!) there are always improvements to be made to current designs, and answers to be given to customers' questions. Analyze a failure mode. Improve an interface. Do a cost trade study on a proposed improvement. Ensure the simulations reflect the reality of the airplane...

You will be working in a specific shop (aerodynamics, structures, propulsion, interiors, flight controls, fuel, electrics, air systems...) at any given time. You may be re-assigned to a shop seemingly unrelated to your current specialty, depending on market forces.
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 16:29
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Makes sense. Thanks Intruder.
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 17:49
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What does an aeronautical engineer do?


post on PPRuNe!
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 18:22
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Originally Posted by Smythe View Post
post on PPRuNe!
Dangerously accurate (and validated by this post!)
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 18:34
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Bear in mind that there is a difference between an "engineer" (a term often misused to describe mechanics and technicians) and an Engineer.

In some countries, the use of the latter title is strictly controlled.
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Old 6th Jun 2019, 19:24
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Originally Posted by Intruder View Post
WOW! It could be ANYTHING!

Analyze a failure mode. Improve an interface. Do a cost trade study on a proposed improvement. Ensure the simulations reflect the reality of the airplane...
Maybe we should tell this to Boeing...

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Old 6th Jun 2019, 19:42
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Bear in mind that there is a difference between an "engineer" (a term often misused to describe mechanics and technicians) and an Engineer.

In some countries, the use of the latter title is strictly controlled.
At Boeing, an "Engineer" normally must have a degree from an ABET accredited engineering school (https://www.abet.org/accreditation/). In some states (e.g., TX, I believe), one must have a Professional Engineer (PE) license to advertise as an Engineer (https://www.nspe.org/resources/licensure/what-pe).
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Old 7th Jun 2019, 09:02
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In some states (e.g., TX, I believe), one must have a Professional Engineer (PE) license to advertise as an Engineer

Same thing applies in Queensland, Australia where an engineer must be, or work in association with, a Registered Professional Engineer of Queensland. More than a few hoops to jump through to get the ticket .. and, should one not have the ticket, be naughty and work as an engineer in Queensland, there is a range of sanctions which the relevant Board can initiate.

The Institution of Engineers, Australia is pushing for a similar accreditation requirement across the country. To what extent this push may be successful remains to be seen. At this stage it is expected that an engineer will hold the relevant national ticket.
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Old 7th Jun 2019, 14:55
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In Washington State, you must be licensed to use the word engineer in your title.
Internally, it is a grey area, because there are plenty of people doing engineering that are not licensed. However, if a business card or documents show the word Engineer, they must be licensed.
Designer is one way, engineering, is another way around this. ie Mechanical Designer, Mechanical Engineering....

There are some fields where there is no professional license, such as Quality Engineer, then they can be called an engineer, but that is stretching it with the Board of Licensing.
Only recently, was there a PG title, Professional Geologist, but people had been working for years as Geotechnical Engineers without issue.
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Old 8th Jun 2019, 00:31
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I spent roughly half of my career at Boeing 'between' major programs, but there was seldom a shortage of things for me to do. There was a seemingly endless list of proposed (and occasionally mandatory) changes from the engine manufactures that needed to be certified and implemented, along with customer issues/questions that needed to be addressed. One of the toughest things was when I was responsible for the 747-8 development, I was also prime for engine control related in-service difficulties for every single 747 and 767 ever built. Long work-weeks were the norm...
I'll always remember, in the early days of the 747-8, they'd called all the propulsion types involved in the 747-8 development in for a mandatory Saturday scheduling meeting. At the end of the meeting, they ask us if we could properly flesh out the schedule outline we'd developed during the Saturday meeting - and I spoke up and said something like 'can you promise we won't have any in-service emergencies for the next week?'
Everyone laughed, but I was being dead serious - and as chance would have it, almost to the minute when I made that comment, a 767/CF6 was experiencing a dual engine flameout while on decent in (IIRC) Mexico. I didn't meet the desired deadline for completing my 747-8 schedule...

BTW, while rare, I knew a guy that was working as an engineer at Boeing that didn't have a college engineering degree. He'd been working as a engineering tech for ages (he was a long timer when I hired in), and somewhere along the line he was granted an 'engineer equivalent' designation based on his years of experience and was considered an engineer from then on. The guy was super sharp - and I never heard anything negative about his being considered an engineer.
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Old 8th Jun 2019, 01:03
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Thanks tdracer

Always enjoy getting your unique input.
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Old 8th Jun 2019, 05:29
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I knew a guy that was working as an engineer at Boeing that didn't have a college engineering degree

Likewise, decades ago, we had a non-graduate tech officer type on the Nomad design program. Functionally, for quite a while, he was one of the senior structures gurus (because he knew his stuff real well) and oversaw many of us engineer folk but the system would only place and pay him as a tech officer because he didn't have an engineering degree. Pretty stupid, but that was the way things were ..
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Old 8th Jun 2019, 06:25
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I was promoted to a senior engineer without a degree, it was only years later that I completed my degree work as a ME. It was rather challenging to sort out problems while still learning the basics, but I did come up with some very unique solutions for the first time in the industry. The key to success was to seek help from others in return for my help to them.
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Old 8th Jun 2019, 09:18
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Originally Posted by DaveReidUK View Post
Bear in mind that there is a difference between an "engineer" (a term often misused to describe mechanics and technicians) and an Engineer.

In some countries, the use of the latter title is strictly controlled.
It says Aircraft Maintenance Engineer's Licence on the cover of my little maroon book. I wouldn't consider myself as such but who am I to argue with the CAA...
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Old 9th Jun 2019, 08:00
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Also, many licensed Engineers (MSc or BA) are employed in the certification profession, assesing the safety of an aircraft design against compliance with safety regulations. Mostly that is qualitative work.
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Old 9th Jun 2019, 13:32
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Originally Posted by Check Airman View Post
Forgive the silly question, but if you're employed to Boeing or Airbus as an aeronautical engineer, and the company's not working on a new design, what would your duties involve? Presumably, there's still lots of engineering to be done, but what exactly would that entail?
There has to be a team of engineeers filling the role of Design Authority. I'm presuming that means dedicating at least some time to maintaining knowledge of the aircraft, its systems, structure, propulsion, getting new people up to speed, etc.

The reallocation of engineers away from this role for Concorde to the A380 project (which was in sore need of manpower) was what made it impossible to keep it flying, no matter how dramatic one's beard is.

Retaining staff for the next project is vital - it's a big risk reduction. In Europe, especially in France, it's quite difficult to fire staff, so staff retention kind of comes as standard. In the US there's no such laws, so it must be very tempting to lay off people as soon as they don't look busy.
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Old 9th Jun 2019, 15:35
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Then there is that career for life job in Continued Airworthiness among the manufacturers and users in aviation, that's where we get to fix our mistakes
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