Avionics Systems Technician

Job description

Avionics Systems Technicians are responsible for maintaining all electronic systems onboard Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aircraft. As part of the aircraft maintenance team, the Avionics Systems Technician is responsible for first line servicing operations in launching and recovering all types of aircraft.

The primary responsibilities of Avionics Systems Technicians are to:

  • Carry out performance tests, preventive/ corrective maintenance, and calibration of the following systems and their associated components:
    • Aircraft communication
    • Intercom
    • Search radar
    • Fire control radar
    • Acoustic sensing
    • Infra-red radar
    • Electronic warfare
    • Navigation
    • Compass
    • Flight control systems

Transcript

AVIONICS SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

TITLE:

AVIONICS SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

I’m Master Corporal Danielle Langley from Guelph, Ontario. I’m an Avionics Systems Technician posted to 12 Wing Shearwater.

And I’m Corporal Nathan Michalopoulos from Asham, Manitoba, an Avionics Systems Technician at ATESS, the Aerospace Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron, at CFB Trenton.

MICHALOPOULOS: In the Canadian Forces, if it flies, you can be sure it’s loaded with a complex array of state-of-the-art avionics. That’s the communications, computer, radar, electrical, and guidance systems that are the nerve centre of every jet fighter, long-range patrol aircraft or transport, and life-saving helicopter.

LANGLEY: You couldn’t go anywhere without your avionics. It’s your flight controls. That’s how you’re getting off the ground. It’s how you’re seeing with your radar, what the weather is going to be like. Especially when we’re talking about a military application, your tactical information all comes from avionics.

MICHALOPOULOS: We’re the technical experts who install, test and maintain everything from search radar to navigational transponders; from flight control to fire control. Even the famous “black box” flight recorders.

LANGLEY: A pilot can come to me with just a list of symptoms, and with that information, I can read a wiring diagram and find the problem area, and it amazes me every time I do it.

MICHALOPOULOS: The average person, you might be lucky to be familiar with a computer. Whereas people in my trade, we can actually deal with the circuit boards, we build the circuit boards, we do our own soldering, and it can be pretty in depth.

We’re posted to every Air Wing in Canada, of course. But you might be surprised to learn that you’ll also find AVS Techs aboard Canadian Navy ships, supporting our maritime helicopters. And we go with the Army, too, wherever they're deployed and they need tactical helicopter support.

LANGLEY: And we have responsibilities out on the flight line, too: including parking, de-icing, and re-fuelling the aircraft.

LANGLEY: The best experience I’ve ever had in the Canadian Forces was definitely going to Kandahar, Afghanistan. I could see daily how my job was affecting not only the local population around us, but the troops that were right on the ground, being shot at every day.

MICHALOPOULOS: The coolest part of my job is really getting to see all the little gadgets and top shelf technology that the average person will never see in their lifetime. It’s kind of taking a peek behind the curtain, and you get to see the best that the industry has to offer.

LANGLEY: The best thing about my job is that it’s never the same. I never know what I’m going to be doing day-to-day. I could be fixing a wiring snag; I could be upgrading an aircraft, actually applying modifications that engineers have come up with to better aircraft. The possibilities are endless.

MICHALOPOULOS: The latest generation of Hercs run totally off mission computers, so learning how those new systems tick is really exciting to me. Our fleet is getting more modern every year, and we’ll be right there for all those rollouts.

I love being on my toes, new surprise every day, keeps my interest in the job. It’s always something new. It’s always a new challenge, and it’s very rewarding.

MICHALOPOULOS: After you finish your Basic Military Training, you’ll dive into the technical aspects of the Avionics trade.

First, you’ll spend about seven months in Kingston, Ontario, on a course called “POET”: Performance-Oriented Electronics Training. That’s where you’ll study your basic circuitry and radio spectrum, power flow and computer networks.

LANGLEY: After that, you’ll move on to the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering at Borden, Ontario for another 24 weeks. In Borden, you’ll learn to adapt the basic electronics theory you learned on the POET course to specific aircraft systems.

MICHALOPOULOS: All in all, you’ll get about a full year of high-intensity technical training. You’ll learn how every electrical, mechanical, power and computer system on a fixed- and rotary-wing aircraft works – and how they’re linked to each other in some of the most modern flying machines in the world.

LANGLEY: And from there, you get posted. You can go anywhere in Canada, be working on anything from F-18s to Hercules, to Sea Kings, fixed wings, rotary wing… you name it.

LANGLEY: Your first posting will be to an Air Force Wing in Canada, where you’ll join the Avionics team for your on-the-job training followed by aircraft-specific training.

MICHALOPOULOS: It’s very challenging in the fact that you can’t really prepare for it. You kind of have to hit the ground running and accept any challenge you’re presented with.

LANGLEY: You’re never doing the same thing for two days in a row. You’re learning constantly.

MICHALOPOULOS: Another benefit of the trade is it’s not all on-aircraft work. You do get to go to different labs and that, and work on either components or… Right now, I’m at ATESS where we do modifications on aircraft so, we’ll build the projects from the ground up; we’ll test them, and once everything is ready, we’ll actually go and install it on the aircraft.

MICHALOPOULOS: I entered the trade with a pretty open mind, no real expectations, and I had no idea that I would be progressing so fast, and doing all these different kind of things. It was a very pleasant surprise and… Every day I grow to like the job more and more.

LANGLEY: Since I’ve been in the Forces, any expectations I had have been far exceeded. I have been posted to Cold Lake, Alberta where I worked on the F-18… currently, in Shearwater working with the Sea King and the Cyclone. I’ve been to Afghanistan. I have been all over Canada and all over the world within a short ten years. It’s… I can’t even explain how amazing it’s been.

TITLE:

AVIONICS SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

IN THE CANADIAN FORCES

  • Set up and operate test equipment to maintain the above systems
  • Operate and maintain computer-controlled automatic test stations
  • Serve as an instructor in field technical training units, training squadrons or basic training units
  • Prepare and maintain aircraft forms and statistical data
  • Operate aircraft support equipment
  • Perform first line servicing tasks such as marshalling, parking, towing, starting, refueling, cleaning and de-icing

Overview

Working environment

Avionics Systems Technicians are employed primarily at air bases in aircraft maintenance organizations, in maintenance hangers, in airborne aircraft, lab environments and on the flight line. In the course of their career, Avionics Systems Technicians will be required to work shifts and periods of overtime. In geographic terms, employment can vary from CAF bases and wings within Canada, including the Arctic, to overseas locations throughout the world in response to NATO and UN commitments.

Pay and career development

The starting salary for a fully trained Avionics Systems Technician is $49,400 per year; however, depending on previous experience and training the starting salary may be higher. Once all required training is complete, they are posted to a location within Canada where they complete on-the-job training on the equipment specific to their home unit. After field technical training and a period of time in the position, Avionics Systems Technicians may apply for training to become a Non-destructive Testing Technician. Avionics Systems Technicians who demonstrate the required ability, dedication and potential are selected for opportunities for career progression, promotion and advanced training.

Related civilian occupations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Avionics
  • Avionics 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

Avionics Systems Technicians attend the Performance- Oriented Electronics Training course at the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario. Training takes approximately 30 weeks and teaches the following basic skills:

  • DC circuits theory
  • AC circuits theory
  • Electro-mechanical devices
  • Solid state devices
  • Power sources
  • Amplifier circuits
  • Oscillator circuits
  • Multistage electronic circuits
  • Conductors and cables
  • AM/FM theory
  • Audio/video equipment
  • Digital circuits
  • Computers and peripherals

The second part of the training program takes place at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. Training takes approximately 24 weeks and includes:

  • Common mechanical training
  • Common aircraft servicing
  • Solid-state devices
  • Digital logic
  • Aircraft wiring
  • Magnetron, Klystron, Travelling Wave Tubes and Microwave theory
  • Computer techniques and architecture
  • Inspection and repair of indicator/display, pitot static, flight instrument, compass, aircraft flight recorder and locator, air data computer, automatic flight control, electronic warfare, navigation, radar communications, aircraft data processing, Avionics (AVS) and combined Avionic (AVS)/Aviation (AVN) multi-purpose display systems

Specialty training

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

  • Instructional techniques
  • Calibration technician
  • Quality assurance
  • Computerized fault diagnosis and analysis
  • High reliability soldering
  • Aircraft specific type courses

Advanced training

As they progress in their career, Avionics Systems 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 Forces will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the required on-the-job training program following basic training. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

Paid education

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Education Program.

Because this position requires specialty training, the CAF will pay successful recruits to attend the diploma program at an approved Canadian college. NCM SEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive a 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. If you choose to apply to this program, you must apply both to the CAF and the appropriate college.  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 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

Avionics Systems Technicians serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis, they usually serve at Forces 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, Avionics Systems Technician candidates will proceed to the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario to complete the Performance Orientated Electronics Training (POET), which is about 30 weeks in duration. On successful completion of the POET course, candidates will then proceed to the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering for their Common Core and Avionics Systems Technician course, which is about 47 weeks in duration. Potential Avionics Systems Technicians can expect to be under formal trade training for about 77 weeks.

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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