From the Director: A New Trajectory to Air Maintainer

Magazine Article / November 1, 2020 / Project number: RCAF-Excelsior-Fall-2020-1

The road to becoming an RCAF air maintainer is a long one, both by design and circumstance. RCAF maintainers are impeccably trained and they carry the weight of huge responsibility on their shoulders, and the length of their occupational training reflects both of those truths. Due to the impact of the COVID environment on the generation of RCAF personnel, circumstances have complicated the RCAF’s ability to move personnel awaiting training through that already lengthy training pipeline.

Yet, the RCAF Reserve still has an ongoing and pressing need to attract prospective air maintainers. One solution for prospective technicians is to join the RCAF Reserve as an Air Operations Support Technician (AOS Tech), a new occupation exclusive to the RCAF Reserve. While Force Protection is their primary duty, AOS Techs also are trained in basic air maintenance. They perform many tasks related to the first line maintenance of our aircraft, such as refueling and other general aircraft servicing tasks. This occupation has many benefits for those new members who are eager to get their hands on aircraft, yet perhaps don’t have the ability to make a significant time commitment, or for those who aren’t quite sure yet if the occupation is their true calling.

For example, an Avionics Systems Technician can spend 20-30 months in training before achieving their occupation’s Qualification Level 3 (QL3) and their Operational Functional Point (OFP – the point at which the member can work without close supervision). Rather, following 10 weeks of basic military training, AOS Techs undergo the five-day Force Protection Course to achieve their occupation’s Qualification Level 3 (QL3). AOS Techs who are employed on a wing with aircraft ─which is most of them─ will then receive approximately three weeks of on-the-job training (OJT) in air maintenance that includes both online and on-floor training. This OJT period covers about 40 percent of the AIR Tech Common Core training. Those AOS Techs who are co-located with Search and Rescue (SAR) units may be selected for further training and work with the SAR Tech section in a maintenance capacity.

This means these new reservists are on the job, touching aircraft much sooner. Less time in training means more time on the hangar floor, which can result in quicker promotion: once the member has reached OFP and after just two years in the RCAF Reserve they become eligible for promotion to corporal.

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