Questions Engineering

What is the difference between aerospace and aeronautical engineering?

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Kanika Tanu

I choose to be happy today

Although the terms Aerospace and Aeronautical sounds almost the same, they have differences between them.

Aerospace Engineering can be termed as the overall engineering branch to which Aeronautical Engineering is a part. 

Let us now discuss both the terms in detail.

Aerospace Engineering

Aerospace engineering is the branch of science dealing with the development of the aircraft and the spaceships. Aerospace Engineering has two sub-branches which are;

  • Aeronautical Engineering

  • Astronautical Engineering 

Aerospace Engineering involves designing and development of civil aircraft, their maintenance, building, and testing of missiles, rockets, space shuttles, space stations, and all other related units. It is the broader aspect comprising various smaller fields of engineering. 

Aerospace Engineering consists of several exciting topics such as;

  • Designing of Spacecraft, aircraft, missiles, space stations, etc

  • Introduction to the field of Aeronautics 

  • Fundamental Principles related to jet propulsion

  • Dynamics of spacecraft

  • Introduction to Orbital Mechanics

The opportunities provided by Aerospace Engineering is vast. The Aerospace Engineers can get jobs at both governments as well as private sectors with a handsome amount of package and added benefits. Few of the fields of work includes- 

  • Military Engineer (Specifically in the Air Force Wing)

  • Government Agencies

  • Aircrafts manufacturing companies

  • Defence Ministry

  • Corporate Research Sectors

  • Airlines

Aerospace Engineering attracts a larger section of the market. Few examples of such companies that hire Aerospace Engineers are:

  • Indian Space Research Organization (ISRO)

  • Defense Research and Development Laboratories (DRDO)

  • Indian Air Force

  • Air India

  • Tata Advanced Systems.

Aeronautical Engineering

It is a branch of Aerospace Engineering which focuses on the study related to the designing and development of aircrafts such as spaceships, airplanes, helicopters, missiles, etc.

Aeronautical Engineering is about specializing in the field of Aerospace Engineering. Or in other words, can be described as knowing more and more about the fundamental principles of aerospace engineering. Aeronautical Engineering also features different exciting topics such as:

  • Principles of Thermodynamics

  • Fluid Mechanics

  • Principles of Heat Transfer

  • Study about the structures of aircrafts

  • Mechanics of flights

  • Study about the control and stability of aircraft.

Aeronautical Engineering probably can be stated as the core of Aerospace Engineering. Since it is a core part of the engineering, aeronautical engineers get more job scope outside India. It is a preferable degree for those who are willing to pursue masters from foreign countries.

Some of the companies that provide Employment to Aeronautical Engineers Includes:

  • Aeronautical Development Agency (ADA)

  • Aeronautical Development Establishment (ADE)

  • Civil Aviation Department


Zara Pandya

Be scared and do it anyway

Having a degree either in aerospace engineering or degree in aeronautical engineering prepares the students and makes them capable of designing aircraft. The surprising fact is that aeronautical engineering itself is one of the important branches of aerospace engineering. It is true that both degree programs teach students a similar type of engineering principles; there is a slight difference between the two in respect to designing the space and air. It is important for us to understand this difference in case we want to choose between the two to complete our engineering degree.

Difference between Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering:

• Aeronautical engineering is the subject where students need to study about the various forces which act on an airborne vehicle is within the Earth’s atmosphere.  Aero-Space, on the other hand, is the subject which deals with the study of aeronautical first and after that on space. Space doesn’t have an atmosphere which is like earth having drag, density, viscosity, and several other things. 

• Aerospace engineering is a branch of engineering having 2 sub-branches. One is Aeronautical engineering, and another one is astronautical engineering. In short Aeronautical engineering is just a sub-branch of Aerospace engineering.

• Aerospace engineers can work both within an aircraft which functions within earth atmosphere, for example, Helicopter and Airplanes also on an aircraft which operates outside of the atmosphere of the earth like rockets, satellites, and spacecraft.  Aeronautical engineers are eligible to work within an aircraft which function within the earth’s atmosphere.

• Frequent subjects of aerospace engineering include Spacecraft Design, Fundamentals of Jet Propulsion, and Introduction to Astronautics, Spacecraft Dynamics and Orbital Mechanics. Regular subjects of Aeronautical Engineering includes Thermodynamics, Aircraft Structures, Heat Transfer, Flight Mechanics, and Aircraft Stability and Control.

Above are some of the common differences which you can find among these two branches of engineering.

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