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This career is ideal if you like getting your hands dirty as well as using your head to solve technical problems. As a vital part of our ground crew, you’ll be trained to manufacture and repair a variety of equipment, using various metals and alloys.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Engineering and Technical Trades
  • Location
  • Starting Salary
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About the role

As an Aeronautical Structures Technician your career will begin as a member of the ground crew, jointly responsible for maintaining all aircraft mechanical systems and a limited number of simple electronics systems used on the Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) aircraft.

These systems include aircraft structures, flight controls, engines, propellers, helicopter rotors, hydraulics, pneumatics, landing gear and fuel. Your duties will range from day-to-day servicing of aircraft on the flight line to scheduled maintenance to maintaining the aircraft as it travels overseas.

On completion of your specialist aeronautical structures training, you will be involved in the fabrication and repair of aircraft repairs utilising the latest composites techniques, machining and welding of ferrous and non-ferrous metals.


Job on base

Squadron Duties

RNZAF flying squadrons are the focus of aircraft operations and, as part of a ground crew, you will be responsible for maintaining aircraft, conducting fault finding, and receiving and despatching aircraft for flying tasks. You will perform systems-based operational level maintenance, including the installation and removal of components, and conducting the operational checks to ensure that aircraft systems are fully serviceable.

Aeronautical Structures Duties

This includes the manufacture, modification and repair of aeronautical components such as aircraft structure, armament and mechanical components. You will conduct your tasks using a wide range of specialist composites, metalworking and welding applications. You can expect to be working with various materials including composites composite structure (think plastic, glass fibre and Kevlar), aluminium, stainless steel, cast-alloys, chrome-molly steels and titanium.

Job on deployment

When aircraft deploy overseas for routine flights, peacekeeping, disaster relief or military operations, they take Aeronautical Structures Technicians with them to service and repair the aircraft.

These personnel are required to operate without the broader support provided from their home base.

When selected to complete this role you can expect the unexpected. You will be living in an environment that is likely to be very different from home, interacting with supporting personnel that are likely to speak in a different language. You will also quickly grasp the way in which New Zealand contributes to a very wide range of international events. You will feel the exhilaration of having a direct impact on air operations, as you and your team will be pivotal to maintaining the aircraft in a state where it is capable of meeting all mission demands.



Career progression and training

Career Progression
Basic Training
Job Training
Ongoing Training
Specialist Training

As you gain experience and progress within your trade, you will be appointed to positions where you are responsible for the supervision of aeronautical structural repair and fabrication.

Personnel who have completed their trade training may also have the opportunity to apply for the specialist role of Non Destructive Testing (NDT). NDT is the ability to test aircraft structures for defects without dismantling the structure. This skill involves the employment of X-ray technology and specialist electronic test equipment to look ‘inside’ aircraft structure. NDT skills are becoming more and more important as aircraft structure involves greater use of composite structure (think plastic, glass fibre and Kevlar), rather than the traditional aluminium structure.

Upon successful enlistment into the Air Force you will be posted to RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim) for your Recruit Course. Here you will do 12 weeks of basic military training to find out if you’ve got what it takes to be in the Air Force, and learn various subjects including:

  • Organisation and Administration
  • RNZAF Customs and Protocol
  • Drill and Parades
  • Military Field Skills and Weapon Training
  • First Aid, and Search and Rescue Techniques
  • Physical Fitness
  • Teamwork and Self Discipline


Defence Aviation Rules (DAR) 66 Category A Course

After your Recruit Course you will complete a full-time 48 week DAR Part 66 Category A Course. This course covers:

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Electrical Fundamentals
  • Electronics Fundamentals
  • Digital Instrument Systems
  • Materials & Hardware
  • Maintenance Practices
  • Basic Aerodynamics
  • Human Factors
  • Aerodynamics, Structures and Systems
  • Essential Principles of Armament
  • Aviation Legislation

During this course you will receive theoretical and practical training on the principles of operation, as well as theory of construction and maintenance of fixed and rotary wing aircraft and their components and systems.

Subjects covered include the inspection, fitting and removal and maintenance of aircraft components, and an overview of aircraft structures, flight controls, undercarriages and brake systems, hydraulic systems, environmental control systems, fuel systems, gas turbine engines, propellers, ignition and lubrication systems, accessory gearboxes and transmissions. Instruction is also given in the use of maintenance documents and engineering publications.

On-the-job training

After graduating from the RNZAF DAR 66 Category A Course as a junior Aero Structures Technician, you will be posted to a technical unit for a period of approximately 24 months. During this time you will work towards gaining the DAR 66 Category A – Military Aircraft Maintenance Licence (MAML) becoming an AEROSTRUCT(A) as well as completing the majority of on-aircraft work-experience required to consolidate the skills and knowledge learned during the DAR 66 Category A course under the control of your Training Support Manager.

Your workbook will then be completed while working in a variety of maintenance bays where you will gain experience working on a variety of aeronautical components and structures.


Once you have completed your OJT, you will be posted to the Aeronautical Structures Section where you will complete a 6 month aeronautical structures training course which includes;

  • Aircraft skin repair
  • Aircraft rigid and flexible pipeline manufacture
  • Aircraft Composites (Carbon Fibre, Plastic, Kevlar)
  • Basic Gas and Metal Inert Gas (MIG) Welding
  • Basic Turning and Milling

On completion of this course you will be posted to one of the specialist aero-structures workshops for 12 months to consolidate your training. On completion of 12 months experience you will again be posted to a specific aero-structures work area where you will undertake additional post graduate training. After a period of approximately 24 months you’ll be eligible to apply for a National Certificate in Aircraft Servicing Level 2 (after around two years) and a National Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Aeronautical Structures) after around four years.

With the foundation laid during your primary and advanced trade training, a large variety of post-graduate training and experiential opportunities exist, providing a wide scope of professional development opportunities. This includes specialisation training in technologies or aircraft systems, and generalist training where you can advance your knowledge in other technical or non-technical areas.

Specialist technical training depends on where you go with your career, and can include aircraft replacement/upgrade project roles, design and development roles, specialist technology roles, instructor roles and technical management roles.

Non-technical training can include Defence Force management and leadership training and sponsored external training through NZ universities or polytechnics.

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Air Force are well-rewarded, diverse and exciting. As you become more experienced and move up through the ranks, gaining additional skills and qualifications, your salary will rise accordingly.




Starting Trade Training


Higher Rank

Benefits and allowances

There are many additional benefits to being in the Defence Force, that will make your money go further.

For example, on top of your basic salary you can expect ‘Military Factor’. This provides you with significant extra financial rewards because of the commitment you’ve made to serve your country.

Free medical and dental
Access to subsidised equipment on base
Subsidised food on base
Competitive superannuation, up to 4% with Kiwisaver
Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Entry requirements

Fitness and Medical
Period of Service
  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship and security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.

You must have achieved NCEA Level 1 with a minimum of 12 credits in Level 1 Science.

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.
  • There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the required CV security clearance for this trade.

There may be a return of service for this trade.

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