There are no clear-cut definitions of aeronautical technology and aerospace technology; in fact, many employers use the terms interchangeably. This lack of a clear distinction also occurs in education, where many schools and institutes offer similar courses under a variety of titles: aeronautical, aviation, or aerospace technology. In general, however, the aerospace industry includes manufacturers of all kinds of flying vehicles: from piston- and jet-powered aircraft that fly inside the earth's atmosphere, to rockets, missiles, satellites, probes, and all kinds of manned and unmanned spacecraft that operate outside the earth's atmosphere. The term aeronautics is often used within the aerospace industry to refer specifically to mechanical flight inside the earth's atmosphere, especially to the design and manufacture of commercial passenger and freight aircraft, private planes, and helicopters.
The difference between technicians and technologists generally refers to their level of education. Technicians generally hold associate's degrees, while technologists hold bachelor's degrees in aeronautical technology.
Whether they work for a private company working on commercial aircraft or for the federal government, aerospace technicians work side by side with engineers and scientists in all major phases of the design, production, and operation of aircraft and spacecraft technology. The aerospace technician position includes 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.
The following paragraphs describe jobs held by aerospace technicians; some may be used in other industries as well. Fuller descriptions of the work of some of these titles are provided in separate articles.
Aerospace physiological technicians operate devices used to train pilots and astronauts. These devices include pressure suits, pressure chambers, and ejection seats that simulate flying conditions. These technicians also operate other kinds of flight-training equipment such as tow reels, radio equipment, and meteorological devices. They interview trainees about their medical histories, which helps detect evidence of conditions that would disqualify pilots or astronauts from further training.
Aircraft launch and recovery technicians work on aircraft carriers to operate, adjust, and repair launching and recovery equipment such as catapults, barricades, and arresting nets. They disassemble the launch and recovery equipment, replace defective parts, and keep track of all maintenance activities.
Avionics technicians repair, test, install, and maintain radar and radio equipment aboard aircraft and spacecraft.
Computer technicians assist mathematicians and subject specialists in checking and refining computations and systems, such as those required for predicting and determining orbits of spacecraft.
Drafting and design technicians convert the aeronautical engineer's specifications and rough sketches of aeronautical and aerospace equipment, such as electrical and mechanical devices, into accurate drawings that are used by skilled craft workers to make parts for aircraft and spacecraft. The engineer may also use computer-aided design and drafting software, or the technician may be tasked with using this software to create the designs.
Electronics technicians assist engineers in the design, development, and modification of electronic and electromechanical systems. They assist in the calibration and operation of radar and photographic equipment and also operate, install, troubleshoot, and repair electronic testing equipment.
Engineering technicians assist with review and analysis of postflight data, structural failure, and other factors that cause failure in flight vehicles.
Industrial engineering technicians assist engineers in preparing layouts of machinery and equipment, work-flow plans, time-and-motion studies, and statistical studies and analyses of production costs to produce the most efficient use of personnel, materials, and machines.
Instrumentation technicians test, install, and maintain electronic, hydraulic, pneumatic, and optical instruments. These are used in aircraft systems and components in manufacturing as well as research and development. One important responsibility is to maintain their assigned research instruments. As a part of this maintenance, they test the instruments, take readings and calibration curves, and calculate correction factors for the instruments.
Liaison technicians check on the production of aircraft and spacecraft as they are being built for conformance to specifications, keeping engineers informed as the manufacturing progresses, and they investigate any engineering production problems that arise.
Mathematical technicians assist mathematicians, engineers, and scientists by performing computations involving the use of advanced mathematics.
Mechanical technicians use metalworking machines to assist in the manufacture of one-of-a-kind parts. They also assist in rocket-fin alignment, payload mating, weight and center-of-gravity measurements, and launch-tower erection.
Target aircraft technicians repair and maintain pilotless target aircraft. They assemble, repair, or replace aircraft parts such as cowlings, wings, and propeller assemblies and test aircraft engine operation.
- Aerospace Engineers
- Agricultural Pilots
- Air Quality Engineers
- Air Traffic Controllers
- Aircraft Mechanics
- Airplane Dispatchers
- Airport Security Personnel
- Airport Service Workers
- Appliance Service Technicians
- Audio Recording Engineers
- Automotive Engineering Technicians
- Automotive Engineers
- Aviation Safety Inspectors
- Avionics Engineers and Technicians
- Biochemical Engineers
- Biomedical Engineers
- Broadcast Engineers
- Ceramics Engineers
- Chemical Engineers
- Chemical Technicians
- Civil Engineering Technicians
- Civil Engineers
- Computer Network Administrators
- Computer Programmers
- Computer Systems Programmer/Analysts
- Computer-Aided Design Drafters and Technicians
- Cryptographic Technicians
- Drone Engineers
- Drone Manufacturing Workers
- Drone Pilots
- Drone Repair Technicians
- Electrical and Electronics Engineers
- Electrical Engineering Technologists
- Electromechanical Engineering Technologists
- Electronics Engineering Technicians
- Electronics Service Technicians
- Embedded Systems Engineers
- Energy Efficiency Engineers
- Engineering Technicians
- Environmental Engineers
- Fiber Optics Technicians
- Flight Attendants
- Flight Instructors
- Fluid Power Technicians
- Forensic Engineers
- Fuel Cell Engineers
- Genetic Engineers
- Geographic Information Systems Specialists
- Geotechnical Engineers
- Ground Services Workers
- Hardware Engineers
- Industrial Engineering Technicians
- Industrial Engineers
- Instrumentation Technicians
- Intelligence Officers
- Internet Security Specialists
- Job and Die Setters
- Laboratory Testing Technicians
- Laser Technicians
- Manufacturing Engineering Technologists
- Manufacturing Engineers
- Manufacturing Production Technicians
- Manufacturing Supervisors
- Marine Engineers
- Materials Engineers
- Mechanical Engineering Technicians
- Mechanical Engineers
- Mechatronics Engineers
- Metallurgical Engineers
- Metallurgical Technicians
- Microelectronics Technicians
- Military Pilots
- Military Police
- Military Recruiters
- Military Workers, Enlisted
- Military Workers, Officers
- Mining Engineers
- Molecular and Cellular Biologists
- Nanosystems Engineers
- Non-Destructive Testing Specialists
- Nuclear Engineers
- Optical Engineers
- Packaging Engineers
- Petroleum Engineers
- Petroleum Technicians
- Plastics Engineers and Technicians
- Product Development Directors
- Product Management Directors
- Product Managers
- Quality Control Engineers and Technicians
- Radiation Protection Technicians
- Radio Frequency Identification Device Specialists
- Renewable Energy Engineers
- Reservation and Ticket Agents
- Robotics Engineers and Technicians
- Semiconductor Technicians
- Software Designers
- Software Engineers
- Solar Engineers
- Stationary Engineers
- Traffic Engineers
- Transportation Engineers
- Welders and Welding Technicians
- Wind Energy Engineers