EDUCATION PLUS

Taking off with aeronautical engineering

Ready to fly: Technicians perform checks on an aircraft.

Ready to fly: Technicians perform checks on an aircraft.   | Photo Credit: Photo: A. Roy Chowdhury

GOPAKUMAR KARAKONAM

As the aviation sector grows, so does the value of a professional degree in aeronautical or aerospace engineering.

Aeronautical or aerospace engineering deals with the design, construction, development, testing and manufacturing of commercial and defence aircraft, spacecraft, missiles and so on.

Four-year B.Tech. and five-year M.Tech. dual degree courses are offered in the branch. Passing them make one eligible to work as a flight engineer. The minimum qualification required for admission is pass in Plus-Two or equivalent examinations with mathematics, physics and chemistry, biotechnology, computer science or biology. Cut-off percentages of marks are prescribed.

Aerospace and aeronautical engineers specialise in propulsion, aerodynamics, fluids, flight mechanics, heat transfer, operations research, aerospace management, maintenance of instruments, electrical and electronics equipment, navigation and radar and radio communication devices related to aviation.

The main duty of a flight engineer is pre-flight inspection and ensuring the smooth performance of aircraft. Maintenance and overhaul of aircraft is part of the job.

Study facilities

Only a few institutions and colleges in India offer the B.E., B.Tech. and M.Tech. courses. The Indian Institutes of Technology in Chennai, Mumbai, Kanpur and Kharagpur are premier centres offering B.Tech. courses in aerospace engineering. They offer the M.Tech. dual degree course too. Admission is through the Joint Entrance Examination (JEE). Those who have passed Plus-Two or equivalent examinations with at least 60 per cent marks or grade (55 per cent for students belonging to the Scheduled Castes and Scheduled Tribes and those with disabilities) can appear for the examination (http://jee.iitm.ac.in).

The B.Tech. programme includes basic and engineering sciences and electives, besides the principal areas such as thermodynamics, aerodynamics, aircraft structures, propulsion, flight mechanics and aircraft design.

The following colleges conduct B.Tech. or B.E. courses in south India.

• Hindustan College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore ( >www.hindustan.net).

• Hindustan College of Engineering, Chennai (www.hindustancollege. edu).

• Mohammed Sathak Engineering College, Kilakarai, Tamil Nadu – 623 806 ( >www.mohammedsathak.e ng.ac.in).

• Park College of Engineering and Technology, Coimbatore.

• Rajalakshmi Engineering College, Chennai ( >www.rajalakshmi.com).

• SRM University, Kattamkulathur, Kancheepuram district ( >www.srmuniv.ac.in).

• Noorul College of Engineering, Kumarakoil, Thuckalay, Tamil Nadu – 629 175 ( >www.niceindia.com).

IIST

The Indian Institute of Space Science and Technology (IIST), of the Indian Space Research Organisation, in Thiruvananthapuram ( >www.iist.ac.in) offers a B.Tech. course with specialisations in aerospace engineering and avionics relevant to space technology. Admission is through the JEE. The aerospace engineering specialisation has 50 seats and avionics 40.

Those who pass the course with first class will be absorbed as scientist/engineer in the pay scale of Rs. 8,000 - 13,500 (likely to be revised) in ISRO with a service condition of five years.

The Cochin University of Science and Technology and the Amrita School of Engineering at Coimbatore (Ettimadai) and Clappana in Kollam have proposed B.Tech. aerospace engineering courses.

While selecting a private college, look for approval from the All India Council for Technical Education, university affiliation, good infrastructure, placement track-record, quality of faculty, fee and so on.

A qualification equivalent to B.Tech. is the Associate Membership of the Aeronautical Society of India (AeSI), New Delhi. The membership makes one eligible to apply for any aeronautical job for which B.E. or B.Tech. is the minimum qualification required.The society conducts the associate membership examination (sections A and B) twice a year. Those who have passed Plus-Two with at least 50 per cent marks in physics, chemistry and mathematics are eligible to enrol for section A. Details may be had from the Aeronautical Society of India, 113 B, Indraprastha Estate, New Delhi - 110 002.

Job prospects

Those who have B.E. or B.Tech. degrees in aeronautical or aerospace engineering can find jobs in airlines, Hindustan Aeronautics Limited, the Defence Research and Development Organisation, the Aeronautical Development Establishment, the Civil Aviation Department, the Indian Air Force and so on.

Maintenance engineering

Aircraft maintenance engineering is not offered as a professional degree course, but only involves training for a licence. Hence, meritorious Plus-Two students prefer the B.E. or B.Tech. courses in aeronautical or aerospace engineering.

To become an aircraft maintenance engineer, one should obtain a licence from the Directorate-General of Civil Aviation (DGCA). Several institutes offer three-year DGCA-approved training courses. Details may be had from >www.dgca.nic.in

Those who have passed Plus-Two or equivalent examinations with physics, chemistry and mathematics scoring at least 50 per cent marks and those who have diplomas after three years of study in any branch of engineering are eligible for admission. The training is rigorous and very few institutes offer it on heavy aircraft and jet engines. Most institutes use small aircraft and piston engines. The fee is around Rs. 1.5 lakh.

The three-year training is sufficient for appearing for the aircraft maintenance licensing examination, covering mechanical engineering, aircraft maintenance and avionics. After getting the licence, one is required to obtain regulatory licence or approval on a type of aircraft. If it is an Airbus or Boeing aircraft, one has to obtain licences to service each type. Aircraft maintenance engineers are authorised to inspect aircraft and certify their airworthiness.

Aeronautical or aerospace engineering involves the application of engineering principles and technical know-how to the design, construction and operation of aircraft. Aircraft maintenance engineers are responsible for keeping the aircraft in perfect condition. They are involved in the construction, repair and maintenance of aircraft.

Those who successfully complete the training and obtain the licence can aim for jobs at airports and aircraft manufacturing and maintenance firms.





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