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Air Force

Aerospace Engineering Officer

OFFICER | Full Time, Part Time


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Overview

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

Work 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.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE:

Aerospace Engineering Officer

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: l'm Lieutenant Keisha Chin-Yet from Halifax, Nova Scotia – I’m an Aerospace Engineering Officer, currently posted to 450 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Petawawa, Ontario. 

Aerospace Engineering Officers – or AERE Officers for short – lead the technicians who perform preventive and mission-critical maintenance on RCAF planes and helicopters. 

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: Our main job here is to meet operations’ need for aircraft. So, the pilots want to fly the aircraft, we need to make sure that those aircraft are ready for every single mission that’s planned.

AERE Officers are also deeply involved in acquiring, configuring, fielding, and testing new aircraft and air weapons systems.

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: So there’s a lot of different jobs for an AERE Officer. What I do right now, in Maintenance Op, I’m at a unit, I manage a section of about 30 people so I do everything I can to help them. So when they run into problems they can’t solve at their level, I can engage with other organizations to get us approval to get things done.

Whether it's on a Wing in Canada, or on deployment in a theatre of operations, AERE Officers put their skills and the trust of their team on the line every day to support mission success.

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: The technicians know how to do their job – they don’t need me to tell them how to do it. What I can do, though, is look at it from the outside and find ways to make it more efficient.

Aerospace Engineering Officers lead every phase of the aircraft life cycle. And they do that in a number of ways. 

The first is making sure that the right equipment gets purchased. AERE Officers work with industry and government officials to make sure that the aircraft and weapons systems Canada acquires will keep the RCAF one of the most technologically advanced air forces in the world.

While in the maintenance operations field, AERE Officers are managers – managers of resources, managers of personnel, and managers of risk, using their technical know-how to resolve problems and to determine whether an aircraft is airworthy.

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: We have to manage snags – so that’s something breaks on the aircraft that is unforeseen – and then also the planned maintenance. Every 200 hours, for example, on this aircraft, we need to do an in-depth inspection – we need to schedule those so we don’t have all of our aircraft down at the same time for maintenance. 

That means staying on top of every detail – but most of all, it means providing smart, steady leadership to the personnel on their team. 

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: My favourite thing about the job is leadership – working with the troops, doing everything I can to make sure that they enjoy their jobs. Because they love working on the aircraft, it frustrates them when they have delays or external factors, and so I just try to mitigate all of that for them and keep them on the aircraft doing what they love to do.

On completion of their military and occupational training, AERE Officers will be assigned to a wing or squadron specializing in Search and Rescue, Air Transport, Long Range Patrol, Tactical Aviation, Maritime Helicopters, or Fighters; or they could be assigned to a team working on a wide range of aerospace engineering projects.

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: When you first arrive at a unit, you have a whole command team working with you, so I’ve got my Warrant Officer who has tons of experience, so he advises me on the parts of the job that I’m not familiar with, and then I assist him with the policy, engineering, the more management side of things. So you’re not really thrown to the wolves, you’ve got a lot of support – so, I’ve got my Warrant, I’ve got two Sergeants, I’ve got Master Corporals, so there’s a lot of leadership there to help me out in my job.

As their careers progress, AERE Officers may have the opportunity to work in a number of sub-specialties. There is an emerging role for AERE Officers in Space Operations; while positions at the Aerospace Engineering Test Establishment, as well as the Aerospace & Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron provide opportunities for those officers interested in hard engineering.

AERE Officers also serve in the Canadian Armed Forces Reserve.

And because AERE is such a highly technical occupation, officers have great post-graduate education opportunities throughout their careers.

LIEUTENANT KEISHA CHIN-YET: I love my job, I get to work with a lot of really smart people, be a part of a lot of really cool things – everything we do is so interesting, with the aircraft and the missions. It’s a lot of fun and it’s really cool to be part of it.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Aerospace Engineer
  • Engineering Project Manager

Training

After enrolment, you start basic officer training at the Canadian Forces Leadership and Recruit School in Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Quebec, for 12 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.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

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 an Orientation Course, which introduces them to the aircraft operations branch, the occupation and the fundamentals of safety when working around aircraft. Following this, they attend two practical phases that usually take place in the summer ranging from eight to 11 weeks in duration. Upon graduation, Aerospace Engineering Officers attend an eight-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.

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

Entry plans

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.

Regular Officer Training Plan

Due to the requirement for CAF officer to obtain a university degree, the CAF will pay successful recruits to complete a bachelor degree program in the Royal Military College System. Recruits will receive full-time salary including medical and dental care, as well as vacation time with full pay in exchange for working in 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 rare instances, based on the needs of the CAF, candidates may be approved attend another Canadian University. A determination will be made on a case by case basis. If you are applying for this program, you must apply to the CAF and it is recommended to apply to other Canadian universities of your choice should you not be accepted for ROTP.

Learn more about our Paid Education programs here.

Part time options

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.

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.

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.

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 92.8% of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.