Aircraft Structures Technician

Job description

Aircraft Structures Technicians are members of the air maintenance team who handle, service and maintain Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aircraft and associated equipment. They are responsible for the maintenance and repair of aviation life support equipment, aircraft structures and related components.

Aircraft Structures Technicians are skilled in metal and composite repair, refinishing, painting, machining and welding. They are integral members of the aircraft maintenance operation in the areas of aircraft servicing, supply, tool control and safety. Their primary responsibilities are to:

  • Inspect aircraft structures and related components
  • Restore or repair defects using unique aircraft fastening hardware, ferrous and non-ferrous materials, composite materials, chemicals, adhesives, paints and textiles
  • Manufacture and install aircraft structural components for prototype projects
  • Weld base metals, alloys and casting materials, using oxyacetylene, electrical arc, inert gas and resistance welding techniques and equipment
Transcript

AIRCRAFT STRUCTURES TECHNICIAN

MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade

TITLE:

AIRCRAFT STRUCTURES TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

CORPORAL ADAM BOTELHO:  I’m Corporal Adam Botelho from Mississauga, Ontario. I’m an Aircraft Structures Technician currently posted at 403 Squadron in Gagetown, New Brunswick.

CORPORAL WILLIAM JUBY: And I’m Corporal William Juby from Kentville, Nova Scotia.  I’m an Aircraft Structures Technician serving at 14 Wing Greenwood, Nova Scotia.

JUBY: If it’s part of an aircraft’s wings, fuselage, nose, tail or frame, it’s our job to keep it in mission-ready condition.

BOTELHO: We’re Aircraft Structures Technicians, or ACS Techs, responsible for the repair, maintenance, and reconstruction of all the outer surfaces and interior structural components that modern aviation depends on.

JUBY: We take stock material from scratch and we produce an aircraft part with it.  We also take damaged aircraft parts and bring them back to their original state. We have welding skills, advanced machining skills, sheet metal skills; we deal extensively with aircraft fasteners, we also partake in painting, there’s composite repair, media blasting.

BOTELHO: So one day we could be fixing upholstery, the seat belts, the safety equipment.  So any day, you could come in to work and be doing something that you weren’t doing the day before, which keeps you interested and it keeps things going well.

JUBY: We have several levels of maintenance: first line of maintenance being directly on the aircraft, in between flights and servicing checks.  Second level of maintenance being more in depth, where you’re actually taking that part and doing an extensive repair.  That’s where our real bread and butter is, as far as fixing the parts.

BOTELHO: We can work on F-18s, we can work on the Auroras, we can work on the Griffons, we have the new helicopters coming in, the Cyclones, so you have an opportunity to work on all kinds of aircraft. 

JUBY: It’s real rewarding in that aspect, because you actually get to see your part placed on the aircraft. You really feel a sense of accomplishment, especially when that sucker takes off.

BOTELHO: Aircraft Structures Technicians spend most of their careers in hangars and workshops on Air Force bases here in Canada, but we also serve aboard Canadian Navy ships with our maritime helicopters, and on deployments in the Arctic and overseas.

BOTELHO: It’s a great career for someone who likes to get his or her hands dirty – someone who wants to learn how to use fine-tolerance tools on a big-league scale – and, most of all, for anyone who dreams of spending every day on mission-critical challenges, inside and outside these amazing flying machines.

MODULE 2 – What’s cool about the job

BOTELHO: Here, we work on the most expensive toy there is. That’s as cool as it gets. 

JUBY: The coolest part of the job, by far, is the diversity.  You never get bored.  Working with the tooling that we have is state-of-the-art.  Working on these big lathes and big machines, plasma cutters for the welding, just creating all kinds of noise and sparks, there’s something about it.  It’s awesome. 

BOTELHO:  This is exactly why I chose this trade, so I could be involved in stuff like this.  At the end of the day, when this rolls out of here, I’m going to be so satisfied that the project went well, that everything is complete, and that it looks good.

MODULE 3 – Trade-Specific Training

BOTELHO:  There’s a huge range of skills that you’re going to need to master to become an ACS Tech, and the Forces have some of the best training courses in the world to help you learn them.

JUBY:  After your basic military training, you’ll head to Borden, Ontario and the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering.

BOTELHO: You’ll spend nearly a year at Borden, doing course work and hands-on training. You’ll learn the basics of machining, painting, aircrew life support equipment, sheet metal work, cutting and drilling – the core skills of the ACS trade.

JUBY:  You’ll learn how all of those crafts – and your classroom theory work in shop engineering, blueprinting, and metallurgy – relate in the real world to aircraft structure and flight performance.

BOTELHO: You know that the guys that are there, that are training you – these guys have been around, they know their stuff and if you have questions, they have answers.

BOTELHO: When you complete your course work at Borden, you’ll be ready for your first posting to a Royal Canadian Air Force Squadron.

MODULE 4 – Your First Posting

BOTELHO:  Your first assignment will be to a squadron on a Wing in Canada. You’ll continue with on-the-job training on specific airframes – it could be our CF-18 fighters, maritime or tactical helicopters, long-range patrol aircraft or transports.

JUBY: As your career progresses, you may be eligible for advanced training in specialties ranging from computerized machining operation and programming, advanced machining and welding, to rotor blade repair and electroplating.

BOTELHO: You know, you’re always trying to hone your skills, and we’re always improving so you always seem to be on the go with something.  If you’re not here working on something, then you are away training and mastering your skills.

MODULE 5 – Testimonials

BOTELHO: Knowing all the real-world skills you’re going to get – these skills, you’ll be able to apply in a civilian life very well.  I mean, how many people can say they can weld, paint, work metal, and sew.  And you know, all those things – they don’t really go together, but we can do it.

JUBY: Proudest moment of my career to date is definitely serving overseas and getting first-hand experience with people who are relying on you overseas. When you’re a part of that, I mean, it’s really something to be proud of.

TITLE:

AIRCRAFT STRUCTURES TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

  • Manufacture original aircraft equipment, components or replacement items from base metals using special cutting tools, engine lathe and milling machines
  • Fabricate and repair aircraft structures using composite, fibreglass, textiles, leather, plastic and synthetic components
  • Conduct corrosion control inspections of ferrous and non-ferrous materials
  • Maintain life support equipment, ejection seats, fire suppression and oxygen systems
  • Perform aircraft handling tasks, including parking, towing, marshalling, starting, refuelling, cleaning and de-icing.
  • Prepare and maintain aircraft documentation and statistical data

Overview

Working environment

Aircraft Structures Technicians provide aircraft structural maintenance during Navy, Army and Air Force  operations. Inspections and repairs are carried out on the aircraft; however, aircraft component maintenance is normally performed in a hangar or a shop. They are usually stationed at CAF wings and bases within Canada, including the Arctic, but may be deployed to locations throughout the world in response to NATO and UN commitments.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Aircraft Structures Technicians is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. At their first unit, Aircraft Structures Technicians candidates will receive training on the specific aircraft and equipment employed by their unit. Aircraft Structures Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression and advancement.

Related civilian occupations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Structures
  • Aircraft Structures Maintenance Technician

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Training

Basic military qualification

The first stage of training is the Basic Military Qualification course, or Basic Training, held at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec. This training provides the basic core skills and knowledge common to all trades. A goal of this course is to ensure that all recruits maintain the CAF physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Basic occupational qualification training

Aircraft Structures Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. Training takes approximately 65 weeks and includes:

  • Shop mathematics and the use of measuring tools
  • Interpretation of mechanical drawings and blueprints
  • Metallurgy and identification of base metals, alloys and composite materials
  • Fabrication of aircraft parts and aircraft sheet metal repair
  • Performing cutting and drilling operations
  • Machining external and internal surfaces using engine lathe and milling machines
  • Installation of non-permanent fasteners
  • Refinishing metal, synthetic and composite surfaces
  • Identification of types and use of paints, sealants, epoxies and mixing agents
  • Welding
  • Aircraft servicing
  • Maintenance of life-support equipment, ejection seats, fire suppression and oxygen systems

Specialty training

Aircraft Structures Technicians may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Quality Assurance – Special Metal Welding
  • Advanced Composite Repair
  • Technical Writing
  • Non-Destructive Testing
  • Life Cycle Material Management
  • Computer Numerical Control (CNC) Turning Centre
  • CNC Machining Centre – Operation
  • CNC Machining Centre – Programming
  • Helicopter Rotor Blade Repair
  • Advanced Selective Brush Electroplating
  • Aircraft-specific courses
  • Cryogenic Bulk Storage and Handling
  • Recovery and Salvage Team Member

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Aircraft Structures Technicians who demonstrate the required ability and potential will be offered advanced training. Available courses include:

  • Technical Administration
  • Leadership and management courses

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Entry plans

Required education

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec. Foreign education may be accepted.

Direct entry

If you already have a college diploma, the CAF will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the any required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

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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 at 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

Aircraft Structures Technicians serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When they are employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis it is usually at CAF bases and tactical units at locations within Canada.

Reserve Force training

Reserve Force members usually begin training with their home unit to ensure that they meet the required basic professional military standards. Following basic military training, occupational training for the Aircraft Structures Technician qualification takes about 38 weeks and is conducted at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario.

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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