Aerospace Engineering Officer

Job description

Aerospace Engineering Officers are responsible for all aspects of the engineering, maintenance and management of military aircraft; and all of their support equipment and facilities during military operations.

The responsibilities of the Aerospace Engineering Officer are to:

  • Manage and supervise the personnel and resources required for the servicing, inspection and repair of aircraft
  • Oversee designing, developing and testing new systems and modifying existing ones or for conducting the life cycle management of aircraft and air weapon systems
  • Participate in the formulation of plans, policies, standards and specifications for present and future military aircraft and their support equipment and facilities
  • Provide technical advice on aircraft operation
Transcript

Aerospace Engineering Officer

CAPTAIN ANDRIY SZKWAREK: It takes leadership on the ground to make our Canadian Air Force a leader in the air -- that's how we make a difference every day.

CAPTAIN TARA WILLlS: We're Aerospace Engineering Officers - or AERE Officers for short - leading the teams of technicians and experts who keep our aircraft safe, in tune, and on mission.

SZKWAREK: l'm Captain Andriy Szkwarek from Winnipeg, Manitoba - l'm an Aerospace Engineering Officer, currently posted to 17 Wing in my hometown.

WILLlS: and l'm Captain Tara Willis from Hull, Quebec - l'm an Aerospace Engineering Officer, currently posted to Ottawa.

SZKWAREK: ln the Canadian Forces, every officer understands the importance of teamwork, efficiency, and devotion to duty. Whether it's on a Wing in Canada, or on the battlefield in a theatre of operations, as an officer, you're putting your skiIls, and the trust of your team, on the line every day.

WILLlS: We command the technicians who perform preventive and mission- critical maintenance on our planes and helicopters. And we also are deeply involved in designing, configuring and testing new aircraft and air weapons systems.

WILLlS: Ifs a really exciting time to be an AERE Officer - the Canadian Forces are currently undergoing the most significant acquisition of new airframes since World War II.

WILLlS: Aerospace Engineering Officers lead every phase of the aircraft life cycle.

WILLlS: And we do that in a number of ways: you can do that in my type of job, where you make sure that you buy the right equipment.

WILLlS: As a project manager on the Cyclone helicopter, 1work with industry and government officials to make sure that the aircraft and weapons systems we acquire will keep our Air Force one of the most technologically advanced in the world.

WILLlS: As a life-cycle manager, the role is a little bit different. What that would mean is to make sure that spares are available to be able to fly those missions. In the field, in the maintenance ops field, what that means is ensuring that you have accounted for and made provision for enough technicians with the right training at the right time.

SZKWAREK: On an operational level, l'm the link between the aircrew and the hangar - anything that's holding the aircraft back, I have to take care of.

SZKWAREK: Generally speaking, l'm a manager. So a manager of resources, manager of personnel, and a manager of risk. The resources are the airplanes you see behind me and all the parts that go on there; the personnel are the technicians, largely, and those are the people that fix the aircraft; and risk - that's me applying my technical know-how to resolve problems to determine whether the aircraft is airworthy.

SZKWAREK: The problems that I encounter on one day are usually something l've never encountered before, so 1have to be somebody who's willing to do research, talk to my people, trust what they have to say, and then come up with decisions that make sense.

SZKWAREK: Making aircraft serviceable is kind of Iike putting pieces of a puzzle together. So there are many different systems - avionics-based, airframe-based, and structures-based - my job is to put those pieces together to ensure that any repair that needs to be done on the aircraft is done in the most efficient, effective manner possible.

SZKWAREK: Our role in operations is to maintain the airworthiness of the aircraft that directly support front Iine operations. Troops, infanteers specifically, that are going to get carted around in Afghanistan depend on the aircraft that we maintain.

WILLlS: It's our role also to make sure that the equipment that they have is exactly what they need to meet their mission. So as the mission and the requirements evolve, as we're deployed to different areas of the world, very specific technical requirements get introduced - to purchase and procure equipment, or to maintain equipment and it's our job to make sure that all of that is in place, on time, when required.

SZKWAREK: That means staying on top of every detail - but most of all, it means providing smart, steady leadership to the men and women who work for you - you've got to be a 'people person' - committed to solving problems and staying focused.

SZKWAREK: Although it's incumbent upon me as an AERE Officer to make sure that 1put rubber on the ramp, the welfare of my people is the most important thing that 1have to worry about in a day.

WILLlS: If serving Canada as an Aerospace Engineering Officer sounds like a path you'd like to follow, there are two ways to do it.

SZKWAREK: The most common route is the one 1took - the Regular Officer Training Plan. 1completed four years at the Royal Military College in Kingston, Ontario, leading to a degree in electrical engineering.

WILLlS: If you already have a science or engineering degree, there is also a Direct Entry Option to a career as an Officer in the Canadian Forces.

SZKWAREK: Whichever path you take, you'lI complete your Basic Officer Training, then go on to aircraft operations orientation. That's where you'lIlearn the basics of how the air wing works on a daily basis - what kinds of planes we fly, what missions they support, and how AERE Officers lead the teams that keep them flying.

WILLlS: After the practical phase, you'lI complete an 8-month course at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. Then you'lI be assigned to a wing or squadron specializing in Search and Rescue, Air Transport, Maritime Patrol or Fast Air; or you could be assigned to a team working on a wide range of aerospace engineering projects.

SZKWAREK: AERE Officers serve at home and overseas - in peacetime and in combat situations. And AERE Officers also serve in the Canadian Forces Reserve.

SZKWAREK: Those are unbelievable opportunities for a young officer.

SZKWAREK: Let's put it this way: l'm 28 and l'm responsible for over 100 people. My boss is a few years older than me, and he's responsible for pretty much the entire maintenance organization. 50 from an early age, you're gonna be expected to have a lot of responsibility and a lot of accountability.

SZKWAREK: And because AERE is such a highly technical occupation, you'lI have great post-graduate education opportunities throughout your career.

SZKWAREK: If I had to sum it up in a single word, l'd say the role of an Aerospace Engineering Officer is ensuring 'airworthiness' - but you're also learning about your OWN worthiness - as a team player, as an engineer, and as a leader.

Overview

Working environment

Work will vary depending on the type of employment and environment. Initially, Aerospace Engineering Officers are employed at a flying unit as either an Aircraft Servicing Officer, an Aircraft Repair Officer, an Avionics Support Officer or an Engineering Support Officer.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Aerospace Engineering Officer is $51,000 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Regular promotions through the junior officer ranks take place based on the completion of required training and on the length of service as an officer. Once promoted to the rank of Captain, their salary is approximately $74,000 per year.

Related civilian occupations

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Engineering Project Manager

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Training

Basic military officer qualification

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 15 weeks. Topics covered include general military knowledge, the principles of leadership, regulations and customs of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF), basic weapons handling, and first aid. Opportunities will also be provided to apply such newly acquired military skills in training exercises involving force protection, field training, navigation and leadership. A rigorous physical fitness program is also a vital part of basic training. Basic officer training is provided in English or French and successful completion is a prerequisite for further training.

Following basic officer training, official second language training may be offered to you. Training could take from two to nine months to complete depending on your ability in your second language.

Professional training

The training program ensures that Aerospace Engineering Officers become familiar with the operations of an air wing and the duties of the position. This training also provides practical experience by working with aircraft maintenance technicians and supervisors, and allows them to become familiar with maintenance operations on individual aircraft types.

Initially, Aerospace Engineering Officers attend the one-week Orientation Course, which introduces them to the aircraft operations branch, the occupation and the fundamentals of safety when working around aircraft. Each summer, they attend one of three practical phases ranging from eight to 11 weeks in duration. Upon graduation, Aerospace Engineering Officers attend a six-month basic course conducted in English or French at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. This course combines theoretical and practical exercises and covers leadership, management and business skills on top of the core aeronautical fundamentals including operations, maintenance and safety.

Specialty training

Aerospace Engineering Officers may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Administrative and management skills
  • Graduate training in engineering

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Entry plans

Direct entry

If you already have a Bachelor of Engineering or a university degree in applied sciences, computer science, engineering management or space sciences, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military officer qualification training are required before being assigned.

Paid education

Regular Officer Training Plan

Because this position requires a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program at a Canadian university. They receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working with the CAF for a period of time.

Typically, candidates enter the Canadian Military College System as an Officer Cadet where they study subjects relevant to both their military and academic career. In some instances, the CAF is able to pay for Officer Cadets to attend other Canadian universities in a relevant degree program. Officer Cadets who attend other Canadian universities typically attend university during the regular academic year and participate in additional military training during the summer months. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the Canadian university of your choice. For more information, see Paid education.

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Part-time option

This occupation is available part-time within the following environment: Air Force

Serve with the Reserve Force

This position is available for part-time employment with the Primary Reserve at certain locations across Canada. Reserve Force members usually serve part time with an Air Force wing in their community, and may serve while going to school or working at a civilian job. They are paid during their training. They are not posted or required to do a military move. However, they can volunteer to move to another base. They may also volunteer for deployment on a military mission within or outside Canada.

Part-time employment

Aerospace Engineering Officers employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis usually serve at CAF bases and tactical units at locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

This occupation is only open to members of the Regular Force who have the Aerospace Engineering Officer qualification and wish to transfer to the Reserve Force, or former military members who have a current Aerospace Engineering Officer qualification.

Working environment

Air Reserve members are trained to the same level as their Regular Force counterparts and are employed in the same unit and perform the same job. Air Reserve members usually serve up to 12 days per month in a regular work day, with opportunities to serve full time for short durations as needed. Reserve Force members are paid 85 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.

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