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Air Force

Aircraft Structures Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

In Demand

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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
  • 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

Work 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.

Career Overview




CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: I’m Corporal Melissa Vautour originally from Dalhousie, New Brunswick, an Aircraft Structures Technician currently posted to 8 Wing Trenton, Ontario.

Aircraft Structures Technicians, or ACS Techs for short, are responsible for the repair, maintenance, and reconstruction of all the outer surfaces and interior structural components of Royal Canadian Air Force aircraft. If it’s part of an aircraft’s wings, fuselage, nose, tail or frame, it’s the job of ACS Techs to keep it in mission-ready condition. They also take care of the upholstery, seat belts, and safety equipment on board.

As part of the air maintenance team, ACS Techs work alongside Avionics Systems Technicians, Aviation Systems Technicians and Air Weapons Systems Technicians to make sure that every aircraft takes off with the ability to carry out its mission, and the firepower to back it up.

They work directly on the aircraft in between flights and servicing checks. They also work on more in-depth second-line maintenance where more extensive repairs are handled.  

CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: The front-line units, they have a bit of a different ACS feel to them, and they might be doing stuff hands-on the aircraft, such as servicing and inspections and changing configurations in the layouts of the plane, whereas you have other people within the trade that are shop-based, and they might be doing fabricating, they might be prototyping… So there’s so much versatility within this trade specifically, that each day is completely different and you’re not going to find yourself within this trade in a very monotonous, cookie-cutter kind of a work environment.

Aircraft Structures Technicians spend most of their careers in hangars and workshops on Air Force bases here in Canada, but they also serve aboard Royal Canadian Navy ships when they deploy with maritime helicopters. ACS Techs also deploy with the Air Force on missions overseas with Canada’s NATO allies.

CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: I’ve had the opportunity to work on some projects that aren’t your typical, normal projects. Within the past year or so, I had an opportunity to refurbish and repaint our unit plane. I had the time of my life! I had to come up with a design concept, and it’s something you don’t typically see every day. So I’m very proud of that work that I’ve done. This trade, specifically, allows you to be creative, right – you’re only limited by your imagination within this trade.

On completion of their military and occupational training, Aircraft Structures Technicians are assigned to a squadron on a Wing here in Canada, where they’ll continue with on-the-job training on specific airframes.

CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: If you’re on the flight line, you’re going to get training specific to the fleet that you’ll be working on, in addition to honing up on more of your ACS skills. If you go into more of a shop environment, usually what happens is you’re going to go on a rotational basis to the different shops for the key elements of the ACS trade.

ACS Techs have welding skills, advanced machining skills, sheet metal skills; they take care of painting, composite repair, and media blasting and they deal extensively with aircraft fasteners.

CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: Not every part of the trade appeals to everybody – that’s a given. But what you’ll find is you get the opportunity to try on many different hats and many different skillsets that you wouldn’t normally get to do. So in doing that, you can finesse and fine-tune the one that you’re most passionate about and make a good career of it. You can’t get that level of reward in a lot of the civilian trades out there. You have so many opportunities within the military to just kind of grow within your respective trade.

CORPORAL MELISSA VAUTOUR: When I was able to get into the ACS trade and I was able to kind of get my hands on some of those technician skills that weren’t available to me before, it was just mind-blowing. I was able to build, to fabricate, to do all of these types of things, and I wasn’t necessarily limited to sitting behind a computer screen in a more historical ‘female’ role. We’re seeing more women in the trade, and we’re seeing more women in non-traditional roles which is amazing and awesome.

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Structures
  • Aircraft Structures Maintenance Technician


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 Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) physical fitness standard; as a result, the training is physically demanding.

Learn more about Basic Training here.

Aircraft Structures Technicians attend the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario. Training takes approximately 26 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

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

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

Entry plans

The minimum required education to apply for this position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondary 4 in Quebec including Gr 10 General Math or Math 416 / CST 4 in Quebec.

The ideal candidate will 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.

Foreign education may be accepted.

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 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.

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.

Find a Recruiting Centre

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.

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.