Safety & Surface Technician

Group: Airman/Airwoman
Job Availability: Full Time

The Role

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Whether it’s the last line of defence for pilots or the first line of defence for their aircraft, the work of the Safety & Surface Technician (S&S Tech) requires care and attention to detail.

S&S Techs have one of the most varied roles in the Defence Force. The ‘Safety’ part of the trade will see you ensuring all safety and survival equipment is properly maintained so that it works in emergency situations. ‘Surface’ means maintaining the painted exterior of all of our aircraft, protecting them from the variety of environments we operate in, to keep them in optimum condition and looking great.

The work of S&S Techs requires exceptional care and attention to detail.  Some of your work is on display every day, and the work hidden out of sight needs to be to the highest standard in order to save lives.

Job on Base

As an S&S Tech you will service, maintain and repair aeronautical fabric components, life jackets, life rafts, helmets, as well as all personnel and cargo parachutes.  As you progress through the trade you will apply, maintain and repair painted surfaces and markings on aircraft and components.  On Base and in a Squadron your team will work with a variety of equipment in specialist work areas to allow aircraft and crew to meet the demands of flying operations.

Job on deployment

When aircraft and their crew deploy overseas they require the same maintenance they need on base.  As a qualified S&S Tech you will have the opportunity to be part of the maintenance team supporting overseas operations and exercises.

Career progression

Throughout your career you will continually hone your trade skills. Once you are proficient, you will assist junior technicians in developing their skills and experience, and you will be responsible for maintaining the high standards of your team. Further courses will provide you with the skills to expand your responsibilities and allow you to participate in exercises and conferences with experts from around the world.  Later you will become a trade instructor, leading S&S through an ever-changing environment, as a member of a committed and capable Defence Force team.

Pay & Benefit Details

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

While undertaking initial Recruit Course you will be paid as a Recruit (see attached pay table). On completion of  your Recruit Course you will be paid as an Aircraftsman and your pay will continue to increase as your career progresses.

General Requirements

  • You must be 17 years or older.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.

Educational Requirements

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

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

Fitness Requirements

  • You must be medically fit for service.
  • Colour perception restrictions may apply.


Basic Training

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

Job Training

Aeronautical Engineering Fundamentals Course

(17 Weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne (near Blenheim)
Following Recruit Course you will attend the Aeronautical Engineering Fundamentals Course covering:

  • Personal Qualities and Attitudinal Expectations in the Aviation Workplace,
  • Aviation Workplace Safety,
  • Aeronautical Engineering Trade Science and Administration,
  • Aeronautical Engineering Tooling and Processes,
  • Aeronautical Components/Systems, and
  • Maintenance Practices.

This course is a requirement for all technical trades within the RNZAF and sets you up well for a successful career.


Primary Trade Training

(30 Weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Woodbourne
On completion of the Aeronautical Engineering Course you will begin the full-time primary trade training course. This will provide you with the basic skills to manufacture and maintain fabric equipment, parachutes and aeronautical safety and survival equipment.


Advanced Trade Training

(15 Weeks) Location: RNZAF Base Ohakea (near Palmerston North)
The advanced trade training course focuses on aircraft painting and its associated skills. On successful completion of this course you will become fully qualified and will rotate through the full range of S&S specialisations throughout your career.

Further formal courses and on-the-job-training, including attendance at conferences and exercises will keep you at the forefront of your chosen career.

Location Details

You can expect to rotate through postings at RNZAF Bases Auckland (Whenuapai) and Ohakea (near Palmerston North).