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Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

Aircraft Manufacturing - Scientist - Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design

Scientists, engineers and technicians work primarily indoors at a desk or in a research department, laboratory or engineering department in a modern, clean and temperature-controlled factory building. The aerospace industry (of which aircraft manufacturing is one portion) is primarily engaged in the design, development and manufacture of aircraft, missiles, spacecraft, their propulsion, navigation and guidance systems, and other aeronautical and astronautical systems and their components.


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Position Description

The major divisions within the aircraft manufacturing industry are airframe, components, accessory and equipment, and engine.

The industry employs scientists, engineers, technicians, production workers, and administrative and support activities personnel.

Scientists and engineers include all persons engaged in scientific or engineering work which requires a knowledge of training equivalent at least to that acquired through completion of a four-year college course with a major in these areas. Scientific fields include aerodynamics, avionics, ceramics, chemistry, cryogenics, mathematics, meteorology, metallurgy, physics, physiology and psychology. Engineering fields include aerodynamics, avionics, design, engineering reliability, equipment, field service, flight test, instrumentation, manufacturing materials and weights and balance. College degree fields in engineering include aeronautical, aerospace, ceramic, chemical, civil, electronic, electrical, engineering mechanics, engineering physics, industrial, mechanical, metallurgical, and nuclear. One study showed that one out of five of the engineers in the aerospace industry has an aeronautical or aerospace engineering degree -- the others come from other disciplines.

More than half of the industry's scientists and engineers are in research and development work. (The aerospace industry is one of the nation's primary employers of scientists and engineers for research and development.) The remainder are in production planning, quality control, tool designing, technical purchasing, technical sales and service, technical writing and illustrating, and related fields. Typical technical areas of endeavor include: aircraft and flight equipment, chemical warfare equipment and materials, chemistry, communications, detection, electrical equipment, electronics and electronic equipment, fluid mechanics, fuels and combustion, ground transportation, equipment, installations and construction, materials (non-metallic), mathematics, metallurgy, military sciences and operations, navigation, nuclear propulsion, ordnance, personnel and training, physics, propulsion systems, and research and research equipment.

Working Conditions

Scientists, engineers and technicians work primarily indoors at a desk or in a research department, laboratory or engineering department in a modern, clean and temperature-controlled factory building. Some outdoor work may be necessary. The various departments are normally equipped with the latest electronic and mechanical instruments, laboratory apparatus, and drafting instruments.

Scientists in the aircraft manufacturing industry can specialize in many fields: aerodynamics, physics, mathematics, chemistry, physiology, metallurgy, meteorology, cryogenics (the study of physics that pertains to the production and effects of very low temperatures) and avionics (or aviation electronics). The uses of composites and ceramics comprise a relatively new field of scientific inquiry.

Scientists, Engineers and Technicians: Almost every branch of science and engineering is involved in the solutions of the great variety of problems associated with the design and production of faster and more efficient aircraft and the in-flight operation and ground servicing of planes, their passengers and cargo. Increasingly more complex mechanical and electrical equipment is necessary for our airlines. The challenge includes the search for aircraft with short takeoff and landing (V/STOL) capabilities and for the design of aircraft for specialized work use and for recreation purposes. All designs must stress improved safety factors.

These professional and semi-professional workers may be assigned to concentrate on tasks involving one of three major areas:

research, design or development, production, operation or control and installation, maintenance or sales engineering.

The emphasis is on thinking and on team work -- a coordinated effort of scientists, engineers and technicians. The scientists are chiefly concerned with basic and applied research: the search for scientific knowledge, new concepts, the extension of theory, and the practical applications of this knowledge and theory. The engineer normally has a definite goal in mind: the engineer's design for a specific piece of equipment to do a specific task. Technicians work closely with the scientists and engineers and concentrate more on the practical aspects of using and testing equipment than on the theory involved in building it. Technicians usually begin as trainees or in the more routine positions under the direct supervision of an experienced technician, scientist or engineer. More responsible assignments are undertaken as technicians gain experience. The team is concerned with all phases of the development of their assigned project -- from the initial planning and design to the final manufacture and testing.

Typical Requirements and/or Experience

In general terms, the aircraft manufacturing industry seeks individuals with self-discipline, a willingness to accept responsibility, a sound foundation in technology, and a team spirit. There are many employment opportunities for women in this industry. In one aircraft plant, women fill 70 different job classifications and comprise 16 percent of the total number of employees. Stanford University reported an increase in the number of freshmen women enrolling in engineering because of the especially good job prospects.

One may also become qualified for some technician jobs by completing an on-the.-job training program, through work experience, and part-time, formal post-secondary school level courses, or through training and experience obtained while on active duty with the military services.

Education

Scientists and Engineers: A college degree in one of the sciences or in engineering is the minimum requirement for scientific or engineering jobs. A few individuals with years of semi-professional experience and some college or college-equivalent training may be hired as professionals, but this is now so rare that perhaps it should not even be mentioned. An interdisciplinary approach is being used increasingly and this requires better training in, for example, the interrelated functions of mathematics, physics, and chemistry. A solid foundation in the fundamental concepts and basic general areas of science and engineering is recommended. There is a need for constant study to keep up with the technical fields - a need to constantly readjust to the rapidly changing technology. professionals with advanced degrees are common in this industry.

Marital Status

Married and unmarried men and women, with or without children are eligible. Persons who are widowed or divorced, also are eligible.

It is the policy of most aviation companies to provide equal employment opportunity to all individuals regardless of their race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status, or any other characteristic protected by state or federal law. Most aviation companies are strongly committed to this policy, and believe in the concept and spirit of the United States law.

Most aviation companies are committed to assuring that:

All recruiting, hiring, training, promotion, compensation, and other employment related programs are provided fairly to all persons on an equal opportunity basis without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law;

Employment decisions are based on the principles of equal opportunity and affirmative action;

All personnel actions such as compensation, benefits, transfers, training, and participation in social and recreational programs are administered without regard to race, creed, color, sex, age, national origin, disability, military and veteran status, sexual orientation, marital status or any other characteristic protected by law, and;

Employees and applicants will not be subjected to harassment, intimidation, threats, coercion or discrimination because they have exercised any right protected by law.

Most aviation companies believe in and practice equal opportunity and affirmative action. All employees are responsible for supporting the concept of equal opportunity and affirmative action and assisting the company in meeting its objectives.

Most aviation companies maintain Affirmative Action Plans for minorities, women, disabled persons and veterans.

EEOC has jurisdiction of the prohibitions against employment discrimination codified in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, Sections 501 and 505 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, Titles I and V of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990 and the Civil Rights Act of 1991. These laws prohibit discrimination based on race, color, sex, religion, national origin, age and disability.

The Office of Special Counsel (OSC) and the Merit Systems Protection Board (MSPB) enforce the prohibitions against federal employment discrimination codified in the CSRA. The OSC will defer those bases of discrimination under EEOC's jurisdiction to the respective federal agency and its EEO process. The CSRA also prohibits employment discrimination in the federal government based on marital status, political affiliation and conduct which does not adversely affect the performance of the employee, none of which are within EEOC's jurisdiction. Moreover, the law defines ten other prohibited personnel practices in the federal government, all of which fall under the jurisdiction of the OSC and the MSPB. See Prohibited Personnel Practices at http://www.osc.gov/ppp.htm.

Additional information may also be found on the the EEOC web site located at http://www.eeoc.gov/

Wages and Benefits

Salaries are generally higher than those for similar work in most other industries. Wages vary according to workers' skills and experience and they differ from plant to plant, depending upon the type of plant and the locality. The following fringe benefits are common and are comparable with those in other industries: two weeks of paid vacation after employment of one to two years, and three weeks, after ten or twelve years; six to eight paid holidays per year; one week of paid sick leave; insurance covering life, medical, surgical, hospital and accident and health; and retirement pensions.

Scientists and Engineers: Depending upon the demand for the specialty and on individual abilities, the entry level salary of a scientist or engineer is $25,000 to $26,000 per year. Scientists and engineers are normally on the day shift. Attendance at seminars and meetings of professional societies is often paid by the company. Some companies also pay the membership dues to professional societies.

Salaries and benefits can vary. For an updated look at salaries in the aviation industry, view the Avjobs.com Salary Report.

Where the jobs are and who hires

Aircraft manufacturing jobs exist in almost every state. The largest concentration is in California. Other states with large numbers of jobs include New York, Washington, Connecticut, Texas, Florida, Ohio, Missouri, Pennsylvania, Massachusetts, Kansas, Alabama, Maryland, New Jersey and Georgia. Aerospace employment is highest in the Pacific region, where more than 40 percent of all aerospace employees work. Another 14 percent live and work in New England, while ten percent are in the Middle Atlantic states. The remaining 36 percent are scattered throughout the central and southern United States.

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Opportunities for Advancement

Scientists and Engineers: Advancement in salary levels is available; i.e., Senior Scientist or Senior Engineer. However, the chief advancement possibilities involve supervision and management and executive positions. The "team" or "project" concept in attacking various goals has increased the need for management talent and thus the opportunities for scientists and engineers.

Science Technicians and Engineering Technicians: With further education, a technician can advance to a professional position. Technicians are also advanced by being assigned tasks normally performed by professionals and they may move into supervisory positions. Technicians who have a good working knowledge of the equipment produced by the company and who have good personalities may become company sales persons, technical representatives or trouble-shooters.

Outlook for the Future

Employment in the aerospace industry is expected to rise above recent levels in the next few years. Thousands of jobs will open each year because of the growth expected in the industry, and to replace workers who retire, or transfer to jobs in other industries. Job opportunities should be most favorable for highly trained workers such as scientists, engineers, and technicians. Less skilled and unskilled workers will also be needed to fill entry level production positions.

Growing demands for civilian aircraft products is an important element underlying the expected increase in aviation employment. The increasing mobility of the population should encourage expanded use of large wide-bodied commercial aircraft and development of rapid air taxi operations between major urban centers. Increased business flying, expanded use of helicopters for such tasks as medical evacuation and traffic reporting, and exports of aircraft to foreign nations are some of the other major factors influencing the growth of civilian aircraft manufacturing.

A portion of the production of the aviation industry is devoted to national defense. Therefore, the industry's future depends on the level of federal expenditures. Changes in these expenditures usually have been accompanied by sharp fluctuations in employment.

Sales in the aerospace industry reached $137 billion, up about $5 billion. Among the three major areas of aerospace activity, the largest increment of gain was in commercial sales, but sales to the Department of Defense also increased substantially. NASA sales remained relatively constant. Sales of commercial transports are expected to remain strong with an increase of more than $4 billion over the current year's level.

Aerospace industry employment climbed to 1,032,000. The projected dramatic increase in employment is primarily due to civil aircraft production, especially commercial transport aircraft. In this category alone, the employment level is expected to reach 81,000 -- an increase of 80 percent over the low employment levels 44,700.

Military aircraft manufacturing is expected to reverse recent trends and show a modest six percent gain in employment.

The category of "other related products" -- avionics, basic research, and non-aerospace products and services -- continues strong and reached an employment level of 263,000, an increase of about 42,000 employees. It is expected that an additional 22,000 people will be employed for such programs, reaching an estimated 285,000.

Training

Because workers who are highly trained and are aware of new developments are needed in the industry, the majority of aircraft plants support some kind of formal worker training program. Most of the plants conduct training classes themselves, others pay tuition and related costs for outside courses taken by their employees at vocational or technical or adult education programs offered by the local community, and some plants do both. Some classes are held during working hours, with the trainee being paid for class time. Other classes are held after working hours. Courses are available for practically every occupational group and cover many skills and areas of knowledge.

Many aircraft plants provide their employees with financial aid for college enrollment. This aid is furnished either as direct grants or in the form of scholarships and it is possible for an employee to work and to continue his or her education at the same time. These opportunities help workers advance more rapidly to higher skills and to better paid jobs.

The further one goes in school, the greater are the opportunities for employment. The best jobs go to those with the most education. At least a high school education is practically mandatory for any worker in the aircraft industry. Post-secondary school training is vitally important and such training may be obtained from: area vocational-technical schools, technical institutes, junior or community colleges, or four-year colleges or universities.

To locate educational facilities with programs related to this position, search Avjobs Aviation School Directory. The Avjobs Aviation School Directory makes researching and finding an aviation college, university, flight school or professional training facility simple.

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Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

Aeronautical and Astronautical Systems Design Career Overview

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