Aeronautical engineers are highly trained professionals employed in building and maintaining all forms of air and space craft. They’re also known as aerospace engineers. Since air flight began at the turn of the twentieth century, aero engineers were hands-on with their highly technical machines and the products used to manufacture them. One of these primary products was asbestos.
Aero Engineer Career
There are four main aeronautical engineering fields. Each had varying degrees of asbestos-related health risks.
These professional fields include:
- Research aeronautical engineers who tested prototype equipment
- Design engineers who planned new concepts based on research data
- Manufacturing aero engineers who actually constructed air and space craft
- Maintenance engineers who were involved in repairing and up-keeping craft
The aviation and aerospace industry still employs hundreds of thousands of professionals. Many hold engineering degrees, but that doesn’t mean they’re confined to an office and had no risks to exposure of asbestos. Plenty were in the field daily and worked right inside asbestos-laden craft.
Asbestos Exposure By Field Of Aero Engineering
Each aeronautical engineering field presented risks for asbestos exposure. Below, is a list of asbestos exposure by field of aero engineering.
- Design Engineers: Lower exposure risk than researchers who tested and operated aircraft.
- Manufacturing Engineers: Moderate amount of asbestos exposure contamination during factory assembly.
- Maintenance Aeronautical Engineers: Highest risk due to Disassembling and repairing components containing asbestos.
Aero Engineer Job Roles
Aeronautical engineers develop all types of aviation craft and equipment. They range from small personal aircraft all the way up to huge commercial jetliners. Planes include sophisticated jet fighters and space shuttle systems as well as interstellar probes. Over the years, almost every type of air and space vessel used asbestos to some degree.
These are some of the craft where aero engineers were exposed to dangerous levels of asbestos:
- Military propeller and jet transport airplanes
- Military fighter and interceptor planes
- Military light and heavy bombers
- Helicopters and other rotary wing aircraft
- Civilian personal and commercial air transport vehicles
- Missiles and guidance systems
- Spacecraft and exploratory craft
Asbestos Applications in Aero Engineering
Asbestos was used in air and space craft construction because it was lightweight and had excellent insulation value. Asbestos is also highly fire-retardant, making it the perfect solution for protecting hot and fuel-laden machines. Aeronautical engineers routinely specified asbestos as the best material for several temperature and noise sensitive applications. They also prescribed asbestos for friction surfaces.
Some aeronautical asbestos applications included:
- Brake linings where high heat from friction occurred
- Insulation for noise control surrounding cockpits and passenger compartments
- Coatings for electrical lines and hydraulic hoses
- Soundproofing in engine and transmission areas
- Insulation for fireproofing around engines and fuel tanks
Asbestos was a prime part of aircraft construction from the early 1900s when aeronautical engineers realized its exceptional aviation properties. Manufacturers supplied tons of asbestos products to the aircraft industry despite early indications of potential health risks. Regardless of many warnings, engineers continued to install asbestos materials into planes. This remained a standard manufacturing technique well into the space age of the 1970s and 1980s.
Aero Engineers and Asbestos Health Risks
By the early 1990s, health risks due to asbestos exposure were well known, and the facts couldn’t hide. Aeronautical engineers slowly began looking for 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. Proper precautions for working around asbestos products weren’t taken as the long-term danger simply wasn’t realized by frontline workers.
Mesothelioma and other asbestos-related diseases began to show up in aeronautical engineers years after initial exposure. Some affected people were directly exposed on a continual basis. Others suffered from second-hand exposure where airborne asbestos fibers polluted their work environment. No matter what field aeronautical engineers worked in, even moderate risk environments could prove disastrous.
Today, the health risks from asbestos exposure are fully documented and widely known. That wasn’t true two to three decades ago when aero industry workers were regularly exposed to large quantities of asbestos while building and maintaining aircraft. Now, many professionals who have retired from the aerospace industry are diagnosed with a form of mesothelioma.
Asbestos Compensation for Aero Engineers
If you’re one of the thousands of aeronautical engineers exposed to an asbestos environment, you may develop mesothelioma. Possibly you already have a positive diagnosis, or you may have a family member with the condition. Sadly, you might have lost a loved one due to asbestos exposure. If so, there are legal avenues open for you.
Mesothelioma is widely understood by the medical community and the courts. You may be eligible for personal injury or wrongful death compensation. This includes assisting with medical expenses as well as awarding punitive damages against the many manufacturers who knowingly supplied hazardous asbestos products to the aviation industry.