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Aircraft Technician (Avionics)

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The facts

Job description

You’ll look after the full range of cockpit instrumentation from radar and navigation to flight controls.

Category

Airmen/Airwomen

Pay after training

£17,485

Joining age

16 - 29

Similar civilian jobs

  • Aircraft maintenance
  • Aircraft manufacturing

Usual service

9 years

Nationality

UK citizen or holder of dual UK/other nationality

Open to

male or female

Qualifications you need

3 GCSE/SCEs at Grade C/2 minimum or equivalent in English language, maths and an approved science/technology-based subject. This role requires a physics based science subject. Please check by reading this document (opens in a new window).

Qualifications you can gain

NVQ Level 3 in aeronautical engineering; Advanced Apprenticeship in aeronautical engineering

Residency

Whether or not you were born in the United Kingdom, you should have resided there for the five years immediately preceding your application.

The job

Aircraft Technicians (Avionics) are responsible for the complete range of cockpit instrumentation and electronic systems used on RAF aircraft, including equipment for radar, communication, navigation, weapon aiming and delivery, flight control, and image and data acquisition systems.

You will also maintain the electrical generation and distribution systems on the aircraft.

Initially, you will be trained and serve as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic, where you will gain valuable experience of working around aircraft and be part of a team preparing aircraft for take-off, as well as checking them for damage and wear after they return from a flight.

During this phase, you will be given the opportunity to assist with the replacement of both mechanical and avionic components, regardless of your future technician trade.

Following a period of further training, you’ll then be a qualified Aircraft Technician (Avionics) and able to carry out the full range of responsibilities of the job, including diagnosing and repairing more serious faults and carrying out complex maintenance tasks. 

The RAF’s technician training earns you a Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering at Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Following completion of an NVQ Level 3 in the workplace, you’ll be awarded an Advanced Apprenticeship in aeronautical engineering.

Whatever your skills when you join, you can be sure of getting valuable training in a specialist trade. 

I do this job

Aircraft Technician (Avionics)

James Dawkins
Aircraft Technician (Avionics)

'Fault diagnosis, maintenance procedures, and component replacement are just a few things I do.'

Senior Aircraftman James Dawkins left Sixth Form College with three A-Levels and an ambition to work in Aviation. An Air Cadet at school and interested in aircraft and engineering, he decided to pursue a Career with the RAF. James is currently based at RAF Lossiemouth in Scotland where he works on the Tornado GR4 as an Aircraft Technician (Avionics) and is qualified with an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering.

Raised in Warwickshire and always interested in aircraft, it was whilst at school and in the Air Cadets, that James visited nearby RAF Cosford and got an insight into Military life. The Career, Travel, and Sport opportunities of being in the Armed Forces particularly appealed to him, and the opportunity to learn more about aircraft. He explains:

"I enjoyed the Air Cadets and visiting working bases gave me a real insight into life in the RAF. I researched the trade and what it could offer me in terms of additional qualifications. The Apprenticeship in Engineering was something that appealed to me."

Like all new recruits, James started his career in the RAF with nine weeks of basic training at RAF Halton and recalls:

"Joining the RAF and moving to RAF Halton was a change from my previous environment, but I remained focused and looking forward to the technical training"

James then moved to RAF Cosford, near Wolverhampton, to begin his specialist trade training and Apprenticeship in Engineering. The highlight of his time at Cosford was a one week adventure training course in Scotland where he and his course went skiing, hill walking, climbing, and learnt mountain survival skills.

He explains:

"The technical course was very interesting and the Adventure Training in Scotland made a great break from the classroom. I currently belong to the RAF Sub Aqua Club and have been to some amazing places like Ascension Island, diving with wildlife such as Dolphins and Green Turtles. These are great experiences to be had in the RAF".

As part of his training and development towards the NVQ Level 3 qualification, James then spent two years at RAF Coningsby in Lincolnshire on the Typhoon aircraft. Working first line, James learnt a lot in his first post and travelled regularly to America on detachment.

"In America I was involved in flight line duties, and I learnt a lot about the aircraft from the Avionics team. During time off we visited Las Vegas, and went on expeditions skiing in California, hiking in Utah, and kayaking the Colorado River".

Jim then returned to RAF Cosford to complete the 15 months of trade training and prepare for his next posting to RAF Lossiemouth where he is currently based. Describing his role he says:

"I am now working on the Tornado GR4 with the Avionics trade desk which is a whole new challenge. Fault diagnosis, various maintenance procedures, and component replacement are just a few things I do. We work two different weekly shift patterns, days and nights. In my time off I enjoy playing tennis, hiking and using the gymnasium.

Looking to the future James is keen to further his qualifications. He would like to continue to work and progress within aircraft industry.

He concludes:

"I would like to gain more responsibilities, further my qualifications, and be promoted in the near future. One of the positive aspects of being in the RAF is that you are given the opportunity, both financially and with time off, to pursue your goals. Not all employers offer the same opportunities for career, experience, sport, and travel. This is the reason I made the decision to join the RAF to start my Aviation Career."

Training

Recruit training

Your career will start with a 10 week Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC) at RAF Halton in Buckinghamshire.

The course is designed to help you adjust to a military environment. As well as fitness and military training, you’ll also learn about the RAF lifestyle.

Specialist training

The next step is a specialist training course at DCAE Cosford, near Wolverhampton, which lasts about five months.

This course is designed to give you a basic understanding of your role, which includes aircraft handling and safety procedures.

You’ll complete this course as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic (AMM) and then get your first posting, where you’ll remain for about two years to gain the necessary experience needed for the technician training course.

You will also be enrolled on an Intermediate Apprenticeship during which you may achieve an NVQ Level 2, Technical Certificate Level 2 and functional skills level 2.

Your First Tour

For your first tour, you’ll be posted to a flying station, where you will handle, refuel and maintain aircraft. You’ll also check for damage and wear, and may be called on to make minor repairs. You could also work in hangars or workshops with more experienced technicians, where you’ll help with more complex maintenance tasks.

Ongoing development

After your first tour as an AMM and, providing you achieve the required specialist standards, you’ll return to DCAE Cosford for a year-long technician training course.

You’ll also be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship in Aeronautical Engineering – the Key Skills element of which will be completed during training.

On successful completion of this part of your specialist training, you’ll be qualified as an Aircraft Technician (Avionics). In addition, once you’ve demonstrated your ability as a technician, you may be eligible for an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering.

The award of this NVQ also signifies the completion of your Advanced Apprenticeship.

Your future

Career prospects

You’ll initially join the RAF for a period of nine years. After a year, you’ll be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if you pass a trade ability test.

Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection once you have successfully completed technician training.

There are two options for Aircraft Maintenance Mechanics who are not selected for, or who fail, technician training: you could either transfer to another job in the RAF for which you have the necessary aptitude, if there is a vacancy available, or you could leave the RAF.

Transferable skills

The NVQs and Apprenticeships you can earn are as valuable in the civilian world as they are in the RAF – which means that whenever you decide to leave the RAF, you’ll be well placed to find a job in engineering.

Apply now

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