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Air Force

Avionics Systems Technician

Non-Commissioned Member | Full Time, Part Time

In Demand

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Overview

Avionics Systems Technicians are responsible for maintaining all electronic systems onboard Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) aircraft. As part of the aircraft maintenance team, the Avionics Systems Technician is responsible for first line servicing operations in launching and recovering all types of aircraft.

The primary responsibilities of Avionics Systems Technicians are to:

  • Carry out performance tests, preventive/ corrective maintenance, and calibration of the following systems and their associated components:
    • Aircraft communication
    • Intercom
    • Search radar
    • Fire control radar
    • Acoustic sensing
    • Infra-red radar
    • Electronic warfare
    • Navigation
    • Compass
    • Flight control systems
    • Automatic flight control systems
    • Electrical wiring interconnection system
  • Set up and operate test equipment to maintain the above systems
  • Operate and maintain computer-controlled automatic test stations
  • Serve as an instructor in field technical training units, training squadrons or basic training units
  • Prepare and maintain aircraft forms and statistical data
  • Operate aircraft support equipment
  • Perform first line servicing tasks such as marshalling, parking, towing, starting, refueling, cleaning and de-icing

Work environment

Avionics Systems Technicians are employed primarily at air bases in aircraft maintenance organizations, in maintenance hangers, in airborne aircraft, lab environments and on the flight line. In the course of their career, Avionics Systems Technicians will be required to work shifts and periods of overtime. In geographic terms, employment can vary from CAF bases and wings within Canada, including the Arctic, to overseas locations throughout the world in response to NATO and UN commitments.

Career Overview

Transcript

TITLE:

AVIONICS SYSTEMS TECHNICIAN

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: I'm Samantha Schaus from Trenton, Ontario, an Avionics Systems Technician here at 424 Search and Rescue Squadron at Canadian Forces Base Trenton, Ontario.

In the Royal Canadian Air Force, if it flies, you can be sure it’s loaded with a complex array of state-of-the-art avionics. That’s the communications, computer, radar, electrical, and guidance systems that are the nerve centre of every jet fighter, long-range patrol aircraft or transport, and life-saving helicopter.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: Avionics Systems Technicians are the electricians of the aircraft. Essentially anything electronic, we are in charge of.  

Avionics Systems Technicians, or AVS Techs, are the technical experts who install, test and maintain everything from search radar to navigational transponders; from flight control to fire control, even the famous “black box” flight recorders on every Canadian military aircraft.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: Not only do I do the electrical maintenance on the aircraft, but I also do servicing. So that would include liquid oxygen on the aircraft for when we're flying, fuelling the aircraft. You'd also have to make sure that the plane is serviceable just by doing a general visual inspection to ensure that it is safe to fly.

The first time I walked into the C-130 Hercules cockpit, I was overwhelmed. I was overwhelmed by how many buttons, lights, switches, doodads, what have you inside the cockpit.

And the first time you go in, you're not going to know, and then the more and more you go through, you'll get to know that, oh yeah, this button turns on the heater. This one turns on the engine. This one will turn the spoolie. It can be overwhelming for sure, but it's great.

AVS Techs are posted to every RCAF squadron in Canada. But you’ll also find AVS Techs aboard Royal Canadian Navy ships, supporting maritime helicopters. And they go with the Army wherever they're deployed and need tactical helicopter support.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: As an Avionics Systems Technician, you're not assigned to just one aircraft. You could actually broaden your horizons on other aircraft platforms. So in my career, I could end up working on the F-18. I could end up working on the Snowbirds. I could end up working on the Chinook. The possibilities are endless.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: As an Avionics Systems Technician, sometimes we have to go on the road as either a servicing tech or for our trade. I actually had a great opportunity last month to go to Comox for a week. We were there to train some pilots that do a lot of mountain flying. It is super cool to fly through the mountains with this large aircraft. Actually, it's quite maneuverable and it's even cooler when you have the loadmasters allow you to walk out on the back of the platform and look out at the mountains.

On completion of their military and occupation training, Avionics Systems Technicians get posted to an RCAF Wing in Canada where they’ll join the Avionics team for a period of on-the-job training followed by aircraft-specific training.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: When you first get posted, one of the greater things that happens is you will be assigned a mentor or a sponsor. A lot of the time they will show you around: this is what your job is; this is what the expectations are; and it's OK to ask questions. Technicians here are very welcoming and are very knowledgeable. And a lot of times you can take that knowledge and they're more than happy to share it with you.

Technicians can be assigned to first-line units that handle repairs and maintenance that can be completed with the equipment still installed on the aircraft. They can also be assigned to second-line units that handle more complicated repairs in a shop environment. And there are postings available at other specialized units like ATESS, the Aerospace and Telecommunications Engineering Support Squadron, a one-stop shop capable of taking new projects from the idea stage through the drawing, prototyping, testing and production phases.

CORPORAL SAMANTHA SCHAUS: What I really enjoy about this career is the camaraderie, the teamwork, and I really, really thrive on a challenge. My previous job in an office was eight hours a day, 40 hours a week, sitting and clicking at a computer. I wanted a challenge and I wanted something that was not in my comfort zone, not within my wheelhouse.

I am very happy that I joined the military as an Avionics Systems Technician, and I almost wish I would have done it sooner

Related Civilian Occupations

  • Aircraft Maintenance Engineer – Avionics
  • Avionics Maintenance Technician

Training

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.

AVS Techs attend 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 36 weeks and includes:

  • Solid-state devices
  • Digital logic
  • Aircraft wiring
  • Magnetron, Klystron, Travelling Wave Tubes and Microwave theory
  • Computer techniques and architecture
  • Inspection and repair of:
  • Avionics (AVS) and combined Avionic (AVS)/Aviation (AVN) multi-purpose display systems
  • pitot static systems
  • flight instruments
  • compass
  • aircraft flight recorder and locator
  • air data computer
  • automatic flight control
  • electronic warfare systems
  • navigation systems
  • radar systems
  • communication systems
  • aircraft data processing

Avionics Systems Technicians

may be offered the opportunity to develop specialized skills through formal courses and on-the-job training, including:

  • Instructional techniques
  • Calibration technician
  • Computerized fault diagnosis and analysis
  • High reliability soldering
  • Aircraft specific type courses
  • Advance aircraft maintenance course
  • Instructional Technique
  • 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, Avionics 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 Applied Math or Math 416 / CST IV. Foreign education may be accepted.

If you already have a college diploma, the Forces will decide if your academic program matches the training criteria for this job and may place you directly into the 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 a 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, 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.

Avionics Systems Technicians serve with the Royal Canadian Air Force. When employed on a part-time or casual full-time basis, they usually serve at Forces 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, Avionics Systems Technician candidates will proceed to the Canadian Forces School of Communications and Electronics in Kingston, Ontario to complete the Performance Orientated Electronics Training (POET), which is about 30 weeks in duration. On successful completion of the POET course, candidates will then proceed to the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace Technology and Engineering for their Common Core and Avionics Systems Technician course, which is about 47 weeks in duration. Potential Avionics Systems Technicians can expect to be under formal trade training for about 77 weeks.

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.