Aerospace Engineering vs Aeronautical Engineering

5 minute read

Are you someone who is fascinated with manufacturing and designing spaceships, rockets and aircraft? Students often get confused between Aerospace and Aeronautical engineering and with a lack of knowledge end up making the wrong choice. Both courses offer the study of the design of an aircraft. Aerospace Engineering focuses on both aircraft and spacecraft that fly within and outside the atmosphere of the earth. Whereas, Aeronautical Engineering focuses on the aircraft that fly within the atmosphere of the earth. If you are planning to pursue a career in this field, this blog will help you settle the aerospace engineering vs aeronautical engineering debate.

Difference between Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

What is Aerospace Engineering?

Aerospace engineering is the primary field of engineering. The subject is concerned with the design, development, testing, and production of aircraft, spacecraft, and related systems and equipment. The field is focused on atmospheric and space flight. It has two major branches: aeronautical engineering and astronautical engineering.

Students who pursue Aerospace engineering learn to design aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. When these students become professionals’ they design components and parts of an aircraft that include engines, airframes, wings, landing gear, control systems and instruments.

What is Aeronautical Engineering?

Students pursuing Aeronautical Engineering study the design, and manufacture along with the techniques of operating aircraft. This course trains the future engineer in designing, constructing, and testing commercial & military aircraft, spacecraft and missiles. Students will learn to be responsible for the research, design and production of aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. They will also learn to develop new technologies in commercial aviation, defence systems, and space exploration. Aeronautical Engineering students develop and enhance knowledge of aerodynamics, flight mechanics, and stability and control.

Reasons to Pursue Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

The major reason behind students studying Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering is the prestige to be called the “rocket scientist”. Students enrolled in Aerospace or Aeronautical study to design and creation of aircraft, spacecraft, satellites and missiles. Getting a degree in this field will enhance your resume and place your career path at the cutting edge of the engineering field.

Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering Syllabus

Students interested in the course get confused about which one to choose. Both Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering are interconnected and yet have some differences. Hence, they have a different syllabus that has separate focus areas for the students. Aerospace Engineering is a broader and more advanced field in comparison to Aeronautical Engineering. Aerospace graduates develop new technologies in aviation, defence systems, and spacecraft. Subjects covered in Aerospace Engineering are Spacecraft Design, Introduction to Astronautics, Fundamentals of Jet Propulsion, Spacecraft Dynamics, and Orbital Mechanics.

Similarly, Aeronautical Engineering is the study of aircraft that operates within the earth’s atmosphere. Aeronautical Engineering is a study that focuses on designing aircraft, helicopters, and aeroplanes. Aeronautical Engineering subjects will cover Thermodynamics, Heat Transfer, Aircraft Structures, Flight Mechanics, Aircraft Stability, and Control.

Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering Scope 

As you already know Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineers work in various areas in the field. The Engineers design aircraft and propulsion systems and also study the aerodynamic performance of aircraft with its construction materials within the Earth’s atmosphere. Countries like the United States of America, France, the UK, and Germany have various job opportunities in the field. There are a lot of opportunities available globally for aerospace engineers and aeronautical engineering.

Countries like the USA, France, the UK, Germany, and more are hiring many Indian aerospace engineers every year. You might be surprised but the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, NASA (US Federal Government Agency) has a good number of Indian engineers working with them.

The average salary for an Aerospace Engineer is Rs. 6,20,972 per year in India depending on academic qualification and experience. However, Aerospace Engineers working abroad get approximately $107,700 (INR 84L) per year.

Top Universities

S.No Name of the Institution Course Name Location
1 Teeside University BEng (Hons) Aerospace Engineering Middlesbrough, UK
2 Arizona State University Bachelor of Science in Engineering in Aerospace Engineering Tempe, USA
3 York University BEng in Space Engineering Toronto, Canda
4 The University of Melbourne Bachelor of Design in Mechanical Systems Melbourne, Australia
5 Coventry University Aerospace Systems Engineering BEng (Hons) Coventry, UK
6 University of Hertfordshire BEng (Hons) Aerospace Engineering with Pilot Studies Hatfield, UK
7 University of Waterloo Bachelor of Science in Honours Science and Aviation Waterloo, Canada
8 Texas A & M University BS in Aerospace Engineering College Station, USA
9 Seneca College of Applied Arts and Technology Honours Bachelor of Aviation Technology Toronto, Canada
10 University of Manchester MEng in Aerospace Engineering with Management Manchester, UK

Similarities in Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering

Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering deal with aircraft. Both areas study flight stability, aerodynamics and aircraft control. They both also deal with traditional engineering issues. On one hand, Aerospace engineering focuses on designing both aircraft and spacecraft. Aerospace is a study of all crafts flying within and out of the earth’s atmosphere. On the other hand, Aeronautical Engineering works on aircraft flying inside the earth’s atmosphere.

Aerospace vs Aeronautical Engineering – Which is Better?

Both Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering are better, in fact, the best for the students who want to study aircraft. Students interested to work in the aircraft building industry must go for aerospace engineering and for those who want to work in the space industry, must pursue aeronautical engineering. There is also an option to choose an aeronautical specialisation after pursuing B-Tech in Aerospace or Mechanical Engineering.

Both Aerospace and Aeronautical Engineering offer courses that relate to the study of the design of aircraft. Aerospace Engineering focuses on both aircraft and spacecraft within and outside the atmosphere as well. But the Aeronautical Engineering focuses on the aircraft within the atmosphere of the earth. Both are good courses however, career opportunities are broader in aerospace engineering.


Is Aeronautical Engineering hard or Aerospace Engineering?

No, neither Aeronautical Engineering nor Aerospace Engineering is difficult. If a student has a dream to build a career in aircraft engineering, then any of these is the best career opportunity.

Can an aeronautical engineer become an aerospace engineer?

You need to acquire an undergraduate degree in Aeronautical Engineering to become an Aerospace Engineer. Further, you need to build your expertise with a master’s degree in a specialisation in these fields.

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