1.0     Aircraft Technician (Avionics)

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at DCAE Cosford, near Wolverhampton, which lasts approximately 5-months. This course is designed to give trainees a basic understanding of their role, which includes aircraft handling and safety procedures. Trainees will complete this course as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic (AMM) and then get their first posting, where they will remain for about two years to gain the necessary experience needed for the technician training course. Trainees will also be enrolled on an Intermediate Apprenticeship during which they may achieve an NVQ Level 2, Technical Certificate Level 2 and functional skills level 2.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will be posted to a flying station, where they will handle, refuel and maintain aircraft, check for damage and wear, and make minor repairs. Individuals could also work in hangars or workshops with more experienced technicians, where they will help with more complex maintenance tasks.
  • Ongoing Development: After a first tour as an AMM and, providing achievement of the required specialist standards, individuals will return to DCAE Cosford for a year-long technician training course. They will 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 specialist training, individuals will be qualified as an Aircraft Technician (Avionics). In addition, individuals may be eligible for an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering. The award of this NVQ also signifies the completion of the Advanced Apprenticeship.
  • 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. They also maintain the electrical generation and distribution systems on the aircraft. Initially, they will be trained and serve as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic, where they 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, individuals will be given the opportunity to assist with the replacement of both mechanical and avionic components, regardless of their future technician trade. Following a period of further training, individuals will 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 a Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering at Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Following completion of an NVQ Level 3 in the workplace, individuals will be awarded an Advanced Apprenticeship in aeronautical engineering.
  • Career prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection once individuals have successfully completed technician training. There are two options for Aircraft Maintenance Mechanics who are not selected for, or who fail, technician training: either transfer to another job in the RAF for which they have the necessary aptitude, if there is a vacancy available, or leave the RAF.

2.0     Aircraft Technician (Mechanical)

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at DCAE Cosford, near Wolverhampton, which lasts approximately 5-months. This course is designed to give trainees a basic understanding of their role, which includes aircraft handling and safety procedures. Trainees will complete this course as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic (AMM) and then get their first posting, where they will remain for about two years to gain the necessary experience needed for the technician training course. Trainees will also be enrolled on an Intermediate Apprenticeship during which they may achieve an NVQ Level 2, Technical Certificate Level 2 and functional skills level 2.
  • Ongoing Development: After a first tour as an AMM and, providing they have achieved the required specialist standards, individuals will return to DCAE Cosford for a year-long technician training course and 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 specialist training trainees will be qualified as an Aircraft Technician (Mechanical). In addition, trainees may be eligible for an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering. The award of this NVQ also signifies the completion of the Advanced Apprenticeship.
  • Aircraft Technicians (Mechanical) are responsible for the complete range of mechanical components and structure of the aircraft including the engines, gearboxes, flying controls, landing gear, hydraulics, air conditioning, anti-icing and fuel systems. They examine, test and repair engines and propulsion equipment on everything from fast jets to multi-engined aircraft and helicopters. Initially, they will be trained and serve as an Aircraft Maintenance Mechanic, where they 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, individuals will be given the opportunity to assist with the replacement of both mechanical and avionic components, regardless of their future technician trade. Following a period of further training, individuals will then be a qualified Aircraft Technician (Mechanical) 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 a Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering at Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Following completion of an NVQ Level 3 in the workplace, trainees will be awarded an Advanced Apprenticeship in aeronautical engineering.
  • Career prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of nine years. After a year individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection once after successfully completion of the technician training course. There are two options for those who are not selected for, or fail, technician training: either transfer to another job in the RAF for which they have the necessary aptitude, if there is a vacancy available; or leave the RAF.

3.0     Electrician

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at RAF St Athan, near Cardiff, which lasts approximately 16-months. Trainees will be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship and a team of RAF and civilian instructors will teach electrical engineering principles. Trainees will then put the theory into practice when learning how to service and repair a vast range of equipment. On successful completion of the training course, trainees will be awarded a City & Guilds Level 3 Progression Award in Electrical Engineering and get their first posting. Specialist training, along with the experience gained on the job, will lead to the award of an NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Maintenance, and the Advanced Apprenticeship could be completed within three years of joining the RAF.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will probably be posted to an RAF base, where they will work on airfield-portable electrically operated equipment in an electrical maintenance bay. Individuals will also inspect and service all kinds of engine-driven equipment and the vehicles used to support aircraft, and could also assist experienced technicians in more complex repair tasks, using test apparatus to find electrical system faults.
  • Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills and development of fault diagnosis techniques. Individuals may be posted to a specialist area of employment such as medical and dental equipment, Air Defence Radar systems or photographic equipment. There are also opportunities for management and leadership training. In addition, the qualifications and experience gained may be used to meet the joining criteria for relevant civilian professional associations.
  • Electricians are engineering technicians who repair and maintain the electrical equipment the RAF use in support of aircraft, on airfields, in workshops and on operational deployments. Electricians work on anything from generators to air conditioning units, X-ray security machines to vehicle electrical systems. They may be employed in specialist engineering workshops, where they will carry out scheduled servicing, investigate faults and make repairs when they find them, using technically advanced test equipment. They could also be called upon to install temporary electrical installations into mobile operating bases.
  • Career Prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial trade training, individuals will be eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.

4.0     Engineer Officer

  • Specialist Training: After your Initial Officer Training, trainees will move to RAF Cosford and complete either the Aerosystems (AS) or the Communications/Electronics (CE) Engineer Officer Foundation Training course. These are 7n-month courses designed to prepare Officers further for their role as a leader, a technical manager and a professional engineer. Here Officers begin to learn about engineering for military technology – for example weapons engineering or defence network management, depending upon their AS or CE choice. Once specialist training is completed Officers receive their first posting.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will probably be posted to a flying station. Here individuals could be responsible for a team of technicians, making sure aircraft are fit to fly, ensuring equipment is fit to support them, or manage navigation aids, ground radars, communications systems and the entire base’s IT. As well as engineering responsibilities, Officers will manage a team of non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and technicians, directing their work and looking after their welfare.
  • Ongoing Development: As an Engineer Officer, individuals will have extensive opportunities for further professional development. As well as RAF training packages and courses linked to outside professional bodies, the RAF actively supports individual study programmes at every level. Individuals could have opportunities to take Masters’ degree courses either full-time or part-time. Many qualification-awarding bodies and professional institutes also recognise the RAFs in-house training and work experience. For example, Engineer Officer Foundation Training is accredited by the Institution of Engineering and Technology, the Institution of Mechanical Engineers and the Royal Aeronautical Society as a recognised training route for Chartered or Incorporated Engineer status.
  • Aerosystems: deals with the RAFs aircraft and missiles. Engineer Officers (AS) deal with the weapons, avionics and propulsion systems of all kinds of aircraft, their airborne communications and the ground support that goes with them.
  • Communications/Electronics: Engineer Officers (CE) maintain, and sometimes operate, every form of communications link – tasks that are vital to the effectiveness of air operations. Individuals could find themselves supervising the maintenance of ground radar systems, or looking after the complex ground-based communications networks of the UKs air defence system. There is also a role to play in networking all the RAFs information systems to make sure up-to-the-minute information is always available to RAF decision makers.

5.0     General Technician Workshops

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at RAF St Athan, near Cardiff, which lasts approximately 15-months. Trainees wi’ll be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship and a team of RAF and civilian instructors will teach production engineering principles. Trainees will then put the theory into practice when learning the three main disciplines of sheet metalwork, welding and machining. On successful completion of the training course, trainees will be awarded a City & Guilds Level 3 Progression Award in Engineering Fabrication and Welding before their first posting. Specialist training, along with the experience gained on the job, will lead to the award of an NVQ Level 3 in Engineering Production, and the Advanced Apprenticeship could be completed within three years of joining the RAF.
  • Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, individuals will develop their production engineering techniques and the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills. Individuals learn many processes and use a much wider range of equipment than they might come across outside the RAF. Advanced training in welding, turning, milling and sheet metalwork using computer numerical controlled applications is provided. There are also opportunities for management and leadership training. In addition, the qualifications and experience gained in a RAF career can be used to meet the joining criteria for relevant civilian professional associations.
  • General Technicians Workshops manufacture and repair aircraft components and parts for other equipment essential to the RAF. Individuals will learn how to carry out a wide range of tasks using a variety of engineering machinery, plant and processes. These could include milling machines, centre lathes, grinding and other machine tools; welding using oxyacetylene, electric and inert gas processes; and the manufacture of sheet metal parts involving heat treatment, bending, riveting and soldering. As skills and experience are gained, there may be the opportunity to work on more specialised equipment. The RAF’s technician training earns a National Engineering Certificate at Level 3 and an Advanced Apprenticeship, including an NVQ Level 3.
  • Career prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial specialist training, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.

6.0     Survival Equipment Specialist

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at DCAE Cosford, near Wolverhampton, which lasts approximately 7-months. The course will provide trainees with an understanding of survival equipment in a military environment, learning how to maintain parachutes, life rafts, aircrew survival equipment and flying clothing. Trainees will also be taught the basic skills of mechanical and electrical engineering. Trainees will be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship during which they will gain an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering (Component) Maintenance, be awarded a Tech Cert Diploma Level 3 and will have completed Functional Skills at Level 2.
  • First Tour: After initial recruit and trade training, individuals will be assigned to a UK unit where, under supervision, they will apply their newly gained skills in a live environment adding immediate value to the RAF. Once experience builds and individuals can demonstrate the required competence levels, supervision will be reduced and promotion to Senior Aircraftsman can be achieved.
  • Ongoing Development: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial specialist training, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.
  • RAF Survival Equipment Fitters (SE Fitt) are Specialists in the modification, maintenance, fitment, diagnostics and repair of Survival Equipment (SE) and Aircrew Equipment Assemblies (AEA). The role of the RAF SE Fitter is vital in supporting the RAF to operate all its Fast Jet, Air-to-Air Refuelling, Air Transport and Rotary Wing aircraft, as well as the Army Air Corps helicopters. This essential SE and AEA equipment ranges from high-tech electronic communication systems, to emergency-escape parachutes to specialist fire-retardant aircrew clothing, all of which are fundamental to preserving the life of Aircrew in an emergency. Depending on where an individual is based, they may be responsible for the specialist maintenance of cutting edge Night Vision Devices, Anti-G protective assemblies, protective aircrew flying helmets including oxygen masks, fire-retardant clothing or life preserver jackets and emergency pilot locator systems. At a Fast Jet aircraft unit individuals may be required to carry out maintenance of emergency-escape parachute and survival packs that are designed to preserve the life of aircrew following aircraft ejection or other accident scenarios. There are also opportunities to work within the Airborne Forces environment, providing parachute equipment and parachute delivery systems to assist UK Special Forces in their specialised training; this could involve working on an active parachute drop zone both in UK mainland or deployed overseas. Individuals may become a part of a specialist pool or sea-drill team, providing instruction and assistance to aircrew practicing their survival drills at a specialist pool or out at sea. For this reason, a SE Fitt will be tested and trained to pass the RAF Swimming Competency Test and possibly undertake further survival training courses. As individuals gain more experience they could be offered employment in other specialist niches such as Aviation Medicine, which includes the following areas:
    • Aircrew Equipment Integration Group: undertaking the development, trials, testing and aircraft integration of all new and technologically enhanced SE and AEA coming into Service.
    • Aircraft Accident Investigation Department: providing expert advice in support of aircraft accident investigations and determining causes of equipment failure.
  • Individuals could also undertake the role of an instructor, training either new recruits during basic trade training or providing specialist training to aircrew or other SE Fitt tradesmen. Throughout an RAF career, individuals could be stationed at various units within the UK or deployed overseas to locations such as the USA, Canada, Kenya, Brunei, the Middle East and Northern Ireland.
  • Career Prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial specialist training, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.

7.0     Vehicle & Mechanical Equipment Technician

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at RAF St Athan, near Cardiff, which lasts approximately 16-months. Trainees will be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship and a team of RAF and civilian instructors will teach mechanical engineering principles. Trainees will then put the theory into practice when learning how to service and repair mechanical equipment and vehicles. On successful completion of the training course, trainees will be awarded a City & Guilds Level 3 Progression Award in Mechanical Engineering and get their first posting. Specialist training, along with experience gained on the job, will lead to the award of an NVQ Level 3 Diploma in Engineering – Maintenance, Installation and Commissioning (2850-33), and the Advanced Apprenticeship could be completed within three years of joining the RAF.
  • First Tour: For a first tour, individuals will probably be posted to an RAF base, where they will work on the mechanical equipment and specialist vehicles in the RAF inventory. They will use and further develop the skills learnt during training as they carry out inspections and servicing; and they will also help experienced technicians carry out more complex tasks, such as engine changes and hydraulic system repairs.
  • Ongoing Development: As a career progresses, the RAF will continue to train individuals in new skills and the development of fault diagnosis techniques. Individuals may be posted to a specialist area of employment, such as Air Defence Radar, Tactical Communications, Tactical Supply, or the Expeditionary Airfield Squadron where they will build temporary engineering accommodation both in the UK and abroad. They could also have opportunities for management and leadership training. The qualifications and experience gained in a RAF career can be used to meet the joining criteria for relevant civilian professional associations.
  • The Vehicle & Mech Equip Technician Mechanical trade maintains a range of vehicles and ground-based equipment, much of which is used in support of aircraft. This can include power-generating equipment for starting aircraft operations, haulage and lifting gear, hydraulic power rigs, air compressors, mobile air-cooling and conditioning units, cars, fuel tankers, cranes, fire engines and more. The work ranges from required maintenance and overhaul to fault diagnosis and associated rectification, encompassing routine tasks right through to more taxing and complex areas. The RAFs technician training earns a National Engineering Certificate at Level 3 and Key Skills at Level 2. Following completion of an NVQ Level 3 in the workplace, the Advanced Apprenticeship in engineering maintenance is awarded. A further period of development training is provided, two years after completion of initial trade training.
  • Career Prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial specialist training, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.

8.0     Weapon Technician

  • Specialist Training: is delivered at DCAE Cosford, near Wolverhampton, which lasts approximately 12-months. Trainees will be enrolled on an Advanced Apprenticeship, the Technical Certificate element of which is a Level 3 Diploma in Engineering, delivered entirely in training – as is the Functional Skills level 2 element of the award. Specialist training, along with experience gained on the job, could lead to the award of an NVQ Level 3 in Aeronautical Engineering Maintenance – Weapons, which will signal the completion of the Advanced Apprenticeship.
  • Ongoing Development: As experience is gained, individuals may go on to work in an Armament Bay, servicing and repairing ejection seats, gun pods, bomb carriers and rocket launchers. Individuals may also work in an Explosive Storage Area, handling bombs and missiles or in Armouries, where they will service small arms and automatic weapons. Some Weapon Technicians also volunteer for training in bomb disposal – a job that calls for a cool head and steady hands.
  • As a Weapon Technician, the primary responsibilities are to arm the fighter and bomber aircraft with weapons and to make sure that all the weapons management and release systems are in full working order. Most Weapon Technicians spend their first tour of duty working on operational flying squadrons, helping with ground-handling tasks and preparing aircraft for their next flight. Like all engineering personnel working on a flying squadron, individuals may get the chance to work overseas. The RAFs technician training earns a National Engineering Certificate at Level 3 and an Advanced Apprenticeship, including an NVQ Level 3.
  • Career prospects: individuals initially join the RAF for a period of 9-years. After a year, and on completion of initial specialist training, individuals are eligible for promotion to Senior Aircraftman/woman if they pass a short trade ability test. Further promotion to the rank of Corporal and beyond is by competitive selection.
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