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Air Force

Aviation Systems Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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As a member of the military, Aviation Systems Technicians handle, service, and maintain Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aircraft, ground equipment and associated support facilities.

Aviation Systems Technicians are responsible for the maintenance of aircraft aviation systems including propulsion, airframe, basic electrical, and their related components. They also perform the following duties:

  • Test, inspect and repair aviation systems
  • Perform quality assurance checks
  • Prepare and maintain aircraft forms and statistical data
  • Perform aircraft handling tasks which include:
    • Parking
    • Towing
    • Marshalling
    • Starting
    • Refueling
    • Cleaning
    • De-icing
  • Operate aircraft support equipment

Work environment

Aviation Systems Technicians work at air bases in aircraft maintenance organizations, in maintenance hangers, in airborne aircraft, and on the flight line. However, they may also work with tactical helicopter field units and on board ships. In the course of their career, Aviation Systems Technicians will be required to work shifts and periods of overtime. In geographic terms, employment can vary from CAF wings and bases within Canada, including the Arctic, to locations throughout the world in response to NATO and UN commitments.

If you chose a career in the Regular Force, upon completion of all required training, you will be assigned to your first base. While there is some flexibility with regards to postings (relocations), accommodations can’t always be made, and therefore, you can likely expect to move at some point in your career. However, if you decide to join the Primary Reserve Force, you will do so through a specific Reserve unit. Outside of training, your chosen Reserve unit will be your workplace on a part time basis, and you will not be obligated to relocate to a different base. As part of the Primary Reserve Force, you typically work one night per week and some weekends as a minimum with possibilities of full-time employment.

Career Overview




CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: I'm Corporal Tera Moussignac-Cimello from Dartmouth, Nova Scotia. I'm an Aviation Systems Technician at 12 Wing Shearwater.

The modern fighter jet, long-range transport, or ship-based helicopter is one of the most complex machines in the world. Keeping those aircraft in perfect flying condition – and keeping their flight crews safe and secure – is what Aviation Systems Technicians, or AVN Techs for short, are proud to do every day.

They are responsible for the maintenance of aircraft aviation systems including propulsion, airframe and all related components.

CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: Generally speaking, we work on all the mechanical components of an aircraft – wings and rotors, engines, transmissions.

In addition to their maintenance activities, AVN Techs also have responsibilities out on the flight line on servicing teams alongside their Avionics Systems, Aircraft Structures and Air Weapons colleagues marshalling, parking, towing, starting, refuelling, cleaning and de-icing the aircraft.

CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: I think you very much have to put your ego aside to be a good tech because whether you have mechanical background or not, you have to realize that you're accountable for people's lives who are going to be flying this. So you have to be willing to do everything by the book. Never be afraid to ask questions. I've been in this trade for seven years. I ask a million questions a day because there are people who know more than I do. So it's a fine line of confidence and being humble about your skills.

AVN Techs are posted to every RCAF squadron in Canada. But you’ll also find them aboard Royal Canadian Navy ships, supporting maritime helicopters. And they go with the Army wherever they're deployed and need tactical helicopter support. The missions are incredibly diverse. But for Aviation Systems Technicians, the thing that never changes is their commitment to safety.

CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: I am proud of what I do. From where I started to where I am now is pretty unbelievable to me, from slinging shoes 40 hours a week to fixing transmissions and engines for maritime helicopters. It's pretty crazy. I am learning new things every single day with this aircraft.

So we fly missions every day – jumping through all the hoops and getting over all the obstacles to actually get your aircraft ready to go on the back of the boat for its six-month sail is probably the coolest thing we do.

On completion of their military and occupation training, Aviation Systems Technicians get posted to an RCAF Wing in Canada where they’ll join the AVN team for a period of on-the-job training followed by aircraft-specific training, whether it’s fixed or rotary-wing, jet or turbo-prop.

CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: Coming to a new base and you see everybody just working and going about their day, you kind of think to yourself, how am I ever going to know as much as I need to know to work on this aircraft? But it's just about time and experience, and we're pretty good with taking our new technicians around with us at every single opportunity for them to see. And then over time, you just learn what you need to know.

Technicians can be assigned to first-line units that handle repairs and maintenance that can be completed with the equipment still on the aircraft. They can also be assigned to second-line units that handle more complicated repairs in a shop environment.

CORPORAL TERA MOUSSIGNAC-CIMELLO: I feel good. It still seems like a crazy decision to me, but at this point, seven, almost eight years later, it makes the most sense. I'm glad I did it. It's an interesting career. There's a lot of opportunities that come up for us, whether it's travel or even just opportunities to do a rarely seen maintenance on our aircraft. There's a lot of possibilities of where you can go as a tech. So I'd recommend it. I think it's a fun challenge

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer
  • Aircraft 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.

Aviation Systems Technicians attend training at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) in Borden, Ontario where they complete Common Core which includes common mechanical and aircraft servicing training over 8 weeks.  After some time at a Squadron they will return to CFSATE and take their Trade Training over 23 weeks and includes:

  • Theory of flight (fixed and rotary wing)
  • Basic electrical
  • Aircraft structures
  • Propulsion systems
  • Wiring and soldering
  • Aircraft servicing
  • Aircraft instrumentation
  • Aircraft publications
  • Aircraft safety
  • Flight controls
  • Hydraulic, fuel, brake and de-icing systems
  • Environment control systems

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

  • Instructional Technique
  • Aircraft Specific Type Courses
  • Aircraft Engine Type Courses
  • Life Cycle Materiel Management
  • Aircraft Fluid Handling
  • Corrosion Identification and Control
  • Technical Writing
  • Technical Inspection and Quality Assurance
  • Flight Safety Investigators Course

As they progress in their career, Aviation Systems 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 occupation 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.

The ideal candidate will already have a college diploma or Red Seal for a related civilian occupation, the CAF will assess your training and experience and optimize your progression following basic training.

Foreign education may be accepted.

Non-commissioned Member Subsidized Training and 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 STEP students attend basic training and on-the-job training during the summer months. They receive 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.

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 at an Air Force Wing in their community. 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.

Aviation Systems Technicians serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When employed on a part-time or term basis usually serve 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 Aviation Systems Technician qualification takes about 54 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. They are paid 92.8 percent of Regular Force rates of pay, receive a reasonable benefits package and may qualify to contribute to a pension plan.