Systems Engineering: Aerospace

General Overview

Systems engineering is a generic term within the aerospace industry that refers to the design, manufacturing, maintenance and control of electrical wiring, electronic systems, heating, ventilation and air conditioning systems and plumbing systems.

 

Many of the responsibilities relating to systems engineers within aerospace relate to how a specific system integrate with the aircraft. This includes routing and manipulation from the source to the consumption device. It also includes a substantial amount of packaging work as the space for systems is often determined by the structure of the aircraft. It is also important to understand that many systems are high risk in an aircraft so a comprehensive knowledge of how to design and maintain these systems in a safe manner is required.

 

The ventilation systems routed throughout an Airbus A380 specifically for galley monuments. Source: www.youtube.com

As the aerospace industry progressed to what it is today, systes got more and more complex. It is now commonplace that all passengers will receive a monitor screen to watch films. This requires safe but not visible routing within the aircraft to connect with the output device. The galley monuments on aircraft have also developed to allow flight attendants to undertake more duties from these systems and prepare additional food. The system integration needs to provide safe ventilation, power sourcing and disposability of waste products when required. Additionally, the cockpit of a modern aircraft is far more reliant on complex electrical systems to assist the pilot in flight. This has improved safety, capacity and efficiency of the duties a pilot must undertake during flight. It is also important to note that strict Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) and European Aviation Safety Authority (EASA) regulations govern the design and development of aerospace systems, only allowing for engineers to simply utilise pre-commissioned products in their designs. It also defines the responsibilities that technicians and manufacturing engineers required during the manufacturing and maintenance phases of an aircraft.

Required Knowledge

Skills and Expertise

  • Knowledge of the fundamental subject of the overall system at a very detailed level.

  • Good ability to manage projects and changes that may be required due to structural engineering changes.

  • Strong knowledge of the particular system that the engineer is involved with. For example, an electronics systems engineer in aerospace will also need to comprehensively understand the theories and techniques of electronics engineer.

  • Understanding of the health and safety requirements involved in aerospace engineering.

  • Comprehensive knowledge of regulatory requirements (FAA, EASA) and how to design within their set parameters.

 

Software Understanding

  • CAD Packages (E.g. CATIA, Siemens NX, Solidworks, Autocad, Inventor, PTC Creo)

  • Word processing, spreadsheets and presentations (E.g. MS Word, MS Excel, MS Powerpoint; Google Docs, Sheets and Slides)

  • Finite Element Analysis (FEA) Software (E.g. Ansys, Abaqus, Nastran, HyperWorks)

Example Jobs
  • Electrical Harness Routing Design Engineer

  • Electronic Systems Maintenance Engineer

  • Avionics Engineer

  • Heating, Ventilation and Air Conditioning (HVAC) Design Engineer

  • Aircraft Maintenance Technician

Institutions

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