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Aerospace engineers take the principles of mechanical and electrical engineering and apply them to aerospace technologies: helicopters, missiles, spacecraft, satellites, commercial aeroplanes and the guidance systems that control them. Aerospace engineers may be involved in the planning and design of aircraft and their components, the measurement of an aircraft's performance and airworthiness, or aircraft construction, maintenance and repair.
In Australia, aerospace engineers are often employed by the Defence Force, specialising in armament, aeronautics, or electronics. Additionally, the commercial aerospace industry is growing in Australia, although it remains international and export-oriented. Most commercial aerospace engineers work in aircraft modification or damage assessment roles; however, others find employment in aircraft design and manufacture. They require strong problem-solving skills, technical competence with machinery and the ability to work as part of a team. Typical work activities of aerospace engineers may include:
- Testing and evaluating the tensile strength and rigidity of materials used in aerospace technologies.
- Conducting in-flight testing, analysing results, and preparing reports.
- Supervising the construction and installation of aircraft structures and components.
- Investigating failed engines and components, including black boxes.
Entry-level positions typically require an undergraduate degree in Electrical, Mechanical or Mechatronics Engineering, and may require additional relevant industry experience. These positions are often advertised by:
- Design and manufacturing companies (including Boeing Australia and BAE Systems Australia);
- The Defence Force (including the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and Royal Australian Air Force);
- Airworthiness organisations (including the Civil Aviation Safety Authority and the Department of Defence); and
- Passenger transport airlines in Australia and internationally (including Qantas and Virgin Blue).