Aeronautical Engineers

Aeronautical engineers played a vital role in researching, developing and manufacturing flight vehicles during the 20th century. Many of these professionals were exposed to hazardous asbestos used in various aerospace applications. Aeronautical engineers may be at risk of developing mesothelioma decades after exposure.

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Aeronautical Engineers and Asbestos Exposure

Aeronautical engineers, also known as aerospace engineers, are highly trained professionals employed in building and maintaining all forms of air and spacecraft.

Ever since air travel began at the turn of the 20th century, aerospace engineers worked hands-on with highly technical machines and the products used to manufacture them. One of these primary products was asbestos.

Did You Know?

Asbestos was an important part of aircraft construction from the early 1900s when aeronautical engineers realized its exceptional aviation properties.

Manufacturers supplied tons of asbestos-containing products to the aircraft industry despite early indications of potential health risks.

These manufacturers continued to sell asbestos-containing aircraft products to aerospace engineers well into the 1970s and early 1980s.

How Aeronautical Engineers Were Exposed to Asbestos

Throughout the 20th century, almost every type of air and space vessel used asbestos to some degree.

Types of aircraft that exposed aeronautical engineers asbestos included:

  • Civilian personnel and commercial air transport vehicles
  • Helicopters and other rotary-wing aircraft
  • Military fighter and interceptor planes
  • Military light and heavy bombers
  • Military propeller and jet transport airplanes
  • Missiles and guidance systems
  • Spacecraft and exploratory craft

The following aeronautical engineers were at risk of asbestos exposure:

  • Design Engineers: These professionals faced a lower exposure risk than researchers who tested and operated aircraft.
  • Manufacturing Engineers: Designing and operating manufacturing systems put people at risk of a moderate amount of asbestos exposure during factory assembly.
  • Maintenance Aeronautical Engineers: People carrying out aircraft maintenance faced the highest risk of asbestos exposure when disassembling and repairing components containing asbestos.

Some engineers suffered from regular asbestos exposure by directly working on aircraft. Others suffered secondhand exposure when asbestos fibers polluted their work environment.

Asbestos Products Used in Aeronautical Engineering

Working with vessel parts, machines, and manufacturing products containing asbestos put all aeronautical engineers nearby at risk of exposure.

Asbestos was used in air and spacecraft construction because it is lightweight, durable, and has excellent insulation value. Some asbestos products were also highly fire-retardant, making them the perfect solution for protecting hot and fuel-laden machines.

Asbestos-containing products used in aeronautical engineering include:

  • Brake linings where friction creates high temperatures
  • Coatings for electrical lines and hydraulic hoses
  • Fireproofing insulation around engines and fuel tanks
  • Insulation for noise control surrounding cockpits and passenger compartments
  • Soundproofing in engine and transmission areas

Aeronautical engineers routinely specified asbestos as the best material for several temperature and noise-sensitive applications. They also prescribed asbestos for friction surfaces.

Aeronautical Engineer Careers

Aeronautical engineers develop all types of aviation craft and equipment, ranging from small personal aircraft up to large commercial jetliners. They work on various flight vehicles including sophisticated jet fighters and space shuttle systems as well as interstellar probes.

The aviation and aerospace industry still employs hundreds of thousands of professionals today.

While many hold engineering degrees, they don’t always work in safe office environments. Plenty of aeronautical engineers worked in the field daily and often inside the asbestos-laden craft.

There are four main aeronautical engineering fields:

  • Design engineers who planned new concepts based on research data
  • Maintenance engineers who were responsible for repairing and upkeeping craft
  • Manufacturing engineers involved in constructing air and spacecraft
  • Research aeronautical engineers who tested prototype equipment

Each field created varying degrees of asbestos-related health risks.

Aeronautical Engineers Health Risks

By the early 1980s, the health risks of asbestos exposure were well known. The facts could no longer remain hidden. Aeronautical engineers began looking for safer alternative materials. Today, few asbestos products are used in manufacturing or refitting aircraft.

Unfortunately, the years of direct and indirect asbestos exposure took its toll on many aviation industry workers. Just 30 to 40 years ago, engineers were regularly exposed to large quantities of asbestos while building and maintaining aircraft.

Did You Know?

Many professionals who have retired from the aerospace industry are now being diagnosed with mesothelioma.

Proper precautions for those working around asbestos products were neglected because the long-term dangers of exposure were still unknown.

Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases began to show up among aeronautical engineers decades after initial exposure, meaning those exposed could be at risk today.

No matter what field aeronautical engineers worked in, they could be at risk if they worked with or around asbestos-containing products.

Help for Mesothelioma Victims

If you’re one of the thousands of aeronautical engineers exposed to asbestos-based products in your work environment, you may be at risk of developing mesothelioma. You or someone you love may have already been diagnosed — or even died from — an asbestos-related illness.

Mesothelioma compensation may be available if if you or your family has been diagnosed with this awful cancer.

Financial awards can help you cover your medical expenses and may include punitive damages against the manufacturers who knowingly supplied hazardous asbestos products to the aviation industry.

Mesothelioma is widely understood by the medical community and the legal system. Many people have sought compensation for their illness and received the justice they deserve. Get a free case review today.

Mesothelioma Support Team
Stephanie KiddWritten by:


Stephanie Kidd grew up in a family of civil servants, blue-collar workers, and medical caregivers. Upon graduating Summa Cum Laude from Stetson University, she began her career specializing in worker safety regulations and communications. Now, a proud member of the American Medical Writers Association (AMWA) and Editor-in-Chief of the Mesothelioma Justice Network, Stephanie serves as a voice for mesothelioma victims and their families.

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