Understanding the Nature of the Aerospace Jobs of Aeronautical and Aerospace Technicians

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Aeronautical and aerospace technicians have been involved with aerospace jobs in their entire career. In their projects, they often work with engineers and scientists in the design, construction, testing, operation, and maintenance, of all kinds of aircraft and spacecraft, including propulsion systems, control systems, and basic structures.

Many aeronautical technicians assist engineers in preparing drawings, diagrams, blueprints, and scale models of such equipment. They collect information, make computations, and perform laboratory tests. Their work may include estimating weight factors and centers of gravity, evaluating stress factors, and working on various projects involving aerodynamics, structural design, flight-test evaluation, or propulsion problems. Other aeronautical technicians are involved in the estimating of the cost of materials and labor required to manufacture the product, in serving as manufacturer’s field service technicians, and in technical writing.

There are no generally accepted definitions of the terms “aeronautical technology,” and many employers use the terms interchangeably. This lack of a clear distinction is also found in education, so that many schools and institutes offer courses with similar content in aeronautical, aviations, or aerospace technology. In general, when people refer to the aerospace industry, they are referring to manufacturers of all kinds of flying vehicles, from piston and jet-powered aircraft that fly in the atmosphere to rockets, missiles, satellites, probes, and all kinds of manned and unmanned spacecraft that operate outside the earth’s atmosphere. Within the aerospace industry, the term “aeronautics” is often used to refer specifically to mechanical flight in the atmosphere and especially to the design and manufacture of commercial passenger and freight aircraft, private planes, and helicopters.

Both aeronautical engineering and the aerospace industry had their births in the early years of the twentieth century involving aerospace jobs. The very earliest powered heavier-than-air aircraft, such as the first one flown by Wilbur and Orville Wright in 1903, were crudely constructed and often the result of costly and dangerous trial-and-error experimentation. Aeronautical engineering and the aerospace industry have been radically transformed since those early days, mostly because of the demands of two world wars and the tremendous increases in scientific knowledge that have taken place during this century. The past three or four decades especially have brought dramatic developments: the jet engine, rocket propulsion, supersonic flight, and manned voyages outside the earth’s atmosphere.

During these same recent decades, aeronautical engineers found themselves taking on bigger and bigger projects on avionic jobs, and hence, more and more in need of trained and knowledgeable assistants to help them in their endeavors. Over the years, these assistants have been known variously as engineering aides, engineering associates, and most, recently, as aeronautical technicians. Their task today is to take on assignments that require technical skills but do not necessarily require the scientist’s or engineer’s special training and education. To meet this assignment, and unlike the aides and associates of some decades ago who usually trained on the job, often using only one type or piece of equipment, today’s technicians are educated in technical institutes and junior colleges where they are taught the fundamentals of science, technology, and mathematics, and how to apply these to scientific problems.

As to the aerospace employment, in light of the continuing shortage of professionally trained engineers and scientists, the work of aeronautical technicians has become especially crucial, as their work allows engineers and scientists to concentrate their efforts on problems and projects that only they can handle. Furthermore, aeronautical and aerospace technicians are principally employed by government agencies, commercial airlines, educational institutions, and aerospace manufacturing companies. The majority of those employed by manufacturing companies are engaged in research, development, and design activities. The remainder of these people works in production, installation, and maintenance, sales engineering, technical writing and illustrating, and in other related fields. Those employed by government and educational institutions are normally assigned research and specific problem-solving tasks. Airlines employ technicians to supervise maintenance operations and the development of procedures for new equipment.

In all of these settings, aeronautical technician’s aerospace careers involve work side by side with engineers and scientists in all major phases of the design, production, and operational aspects of aircraft and spacecraft technology. Typical jobs of the aeronautical technician include collecting and recording data, operating test equipment, such as wind tunnels and flight simulators, devising tests to ensure quality control, modifying mathematical procedures to fit specific problems, laying out experimental circuits to test scientific theories, and evaluating experimental data for practical applications. Note, that as part of their future aviation employment, these technicians must have the ability to learn basic engineering skills. They should like and be proficient with mathematics and the physical sciences and be able to visualize size, from, and function. In addition, they should have good manipulative skills that allow them to make, maintain, or assemble items large or small.

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