MODULE 1 – Overview of the trade
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.
AIRCRAFT STRUCTURES TECHNICIAN
IN THE CANADIAN FORCES