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Air Force

Aviation Systems Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

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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.

Career Overview





I’m Master Corporal Ray Cowell from Winnipeg, Manitoba, an Aviation Systems Technician currently posted at 4 Wing Cold Lake.

And I’m Master Corporal Dan Héroux from Saint-Jean-sur-Richelieu, Québec. I’m an Aviation Systems Technician at 438 Tactical Helicopter Squadron in Saint-Hubert.

COWELL: 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 our flight crews safe and secure – is what Aviation Systems Techs are proud to do every day.

HÉROUX: We work on the engines, the propulsion systems, the airframes, landing gear, all the systems related to the mechanical side of the aircraft.

COWELL: Every job that I do on the aircraft, I have to make sure that I gather the appropriate paperwork, get the appropriate experts that I may need to assist me in that job, to make sure I put out an airworthy and safe aircraft.

HÉROUX:Wherever we go, we’re out on the ramps every day, towing, parking and re-fuelling the aircraft, and jumping on board to fix any last-second snags.

COWELL: You’ll find AVN Techs assigned to squadrons across Canada. But we also sail with the Navy in support of our maritime helicopters. And if the Army needs air support on overseas deployment, we’re there, too.

HÉROUX: Especially when – missions like in Afghanistan – when you know the guys are out there, or they’re waiting for the plane to come and pick them up, or… They’re counting on you a lot, and it makes you feel good, knowing that you fixed that plane to make sure they can make it up there.

COWELL: I think the coolest part of the job is actually sitting in the jet. I think sitting in the jet, doing functionals, working and… Working on the aircraft is like working on a NASCAR. You know, like a sports car or something like that, but it’s a fighter-jet. It’s not something that everybody gets to do.

HÉROUX: When I was on the Herc, the CC130-Herc, I was doing the engine run-ups on the plane, actually getting to start-up all four engines. You know, 20 000 pounds of torque each engine… it was a great feeling. And then, the other part is the missions. Going away on missions all around the world, and knowing that you’re actually making a difference somewhere.

COWELL: Being able to have hands-on time with the aircraft, to effectively communicate with the pilots and the ground crew, to make sure that the mission is carried out…

I’ve been to Afghanistan, Haiti… up north in Alert, or even for the Olympics year for Op Podium. It was a lot of good missions that we did there.

COWELL: Being right out there on the tarmac with the fighters and the big transports, and knowing that you helped get that plane ready to fly, that never stops being really cool to me.

COWELL: When you join the Air Force, you’re going to start with your Basic Military training, and then you’ll move on to your aviation systems course.

HÉROUX:You’ll spend a little more than a year at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering in Borden, Ontario.

COWELL: At Borden, they’ll take you through the nuts and bolts of an aircraft from nose to tail. Materials and metallurgy; propulsion, electricity and hydraulics. There’s a lot to learn and they’ve got some great instructors to teach it.

HÉROUX: Coming out of Borden, you’ll be assigned to an air squadron and a specific airframe, whether it’s fixed or rotary-wing, jet or turbo-prop.

But when you get to your first aircraft, you start learning right away and the experienced technicians really show you around. And then you make a name for yourself. They know you. They can start trusting you. So they let you actually do the job, and then they just look at it and sign for it. And after a couple years, then you actually get your qualifications, and you get to sign for your first job… Best feeling, just knowing that you actually fixed it and you’re signing for your own job. The confidence really builds up fast.

COWELL:Sailing with the Navy, fighting with the Army, on deployments for disaster relief and humanitarian assistance: the missions are incredibly diverse, but our commitment to safety never changes.

HÉROUX: For me, it’s more the challenge of getting the aircraft ready for the next day, or finding out what the problem is. When the aircrew come in and say “Is that working right?”. You want to make it work right, and seeing the results makes you feel great.

COWELL: I’m excited to come to work. I think my job is extremely rewarding in the fact that I’m helping protect Canada.

HÉROUX: You get to travel, see the world. You get to work on many different aircraft and all the new aircraft coming in now. You get to work on the newest technologies every day. It’s… it’s amazing.




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 in Borden, Ontario. This training takes approximately 38 weeks and includes the following topics:

  • Theory of flight (fixed and rotary wing)
  • Common mechanical training
  • 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 position is the completion of the provincial requirements for Grade 10 or Secondaire IV in Quebec including Gr 10 General Math or Math 416 / CST IV. Foreign education may be accepted.

If you 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. Basic training and military occupation training is required before being assigned.

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.

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.