RNZAF Aircraft Technician

Do you think you could strip down an aircraft and rebuild it? With this job you’ll find out how – servicing, overhauling and maintaining all our aircraft systems and components.

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

As an Aircraft Systems Technician you’ll be 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.

Job on base

Aircraft Maintenance

It is your job to keep all our aircraft and associated components in optimum condition for the conduct of military operations. As the RNZAF fleet of aircraft and helicopters are upgraded or replaced, you will be required to work with the latest technology. Also, with the advancement of technology there is a greater integration with avionic trades, especially in the way aircraft systems are operated and maintained. Fault diagnosis and general maintenance activities involves a greater emphasis on the use of specialist electronic equipment and on-board computer systems.

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. The technology used in the aviation industry is ever changing, and as such you’ll be required to operate a wide range of test equipment, including computer applications software to assist with maintenance checks, ground running of aircraft engines and aircraft systems and also the rectification of faults. Squadron based Aircraft Systems Technicians also perform intermediate level maintenance when an aircraft reaches a prescribed number of flying hours. Before the aircraft can fly again it must be stripped down, inspected, repaired, rebuilt and tested.

Maintenance Bay Duties

Where aircraft component faults cannot be fixed during operational level maintenance on the squadrons, you will remove the components from the aircraft and send them to specialised maintenance bays for repair. These bays are staffed by your fellow Aircraft Systems Technicians who are responsible for the maintenance of all uninstalled aircraft components, ensuring all spares can be fitted immediately upon request. Within the bay maintenance area aircraft components are dismantled, tested, repaired and returned to service to meet flying squadron demands.

Job on deployment

When squadron aircraft deploy overseas for routine flights, peacekeeping, disaster relief or military operations they take Aircraft Systems 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.

I’ve been on a few deployments which include the Middle East, Canada, America and a major one I really liked was Antarctica.

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 squadron or bay level maintenance. Aircraft Systems Technicians are also required to work in technical administration sections to ensure that airworthiness standards are maintained on the squadrons and in the RNZAF as a whole.

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. This skill is 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.

The opportunity also exists for Aircraft Systems Technicians to deploy on Royal New Zealand Navy ships in support of seaborne helicopter operations.

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 Aircraft Systems 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) 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.


DAR 66 Category B1 Course

Once you have finished your OJT, you will be posted back to Woodbourne to complete a 12 month DAR 66 Category B1 (Mechanical) Course, which includes;

  • Mathematics
  • Physics
  • Electrical
  • Electronics
  • Digital Instrument Systems
  • Materials & Hardware
  • Maintenance Practices
  • Basic Aerodynamics
  • Human Factors
  • Aerodynamics, Structures and Systems
  • Aviation Legislation
  • Helicopter Aerodynamics, Structures and Systems
  • Propulsion

On completion of this course 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 B1 – Military Aircraft Maintenance Licence (MAML) becoming a licenced aircraft systems technician, 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 (Maintenance) 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, aircraft research, 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, 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.


Under Initial Training


Starting Trade Training


Future Potential Earnings

Figures updated on July 1st 2023

Benefits and allowances

Earn a competitive salary while training or learning your trade, along with additional allowances for time spent in the field, at sea, overseas, or deployed on operations.

In addition to salary and allowances, other benefits of joining the New Zealand Defence Force include:

Access to your Service marae or tūrangawaewae

Sponsored tertiary study programmes at all levels

Free access to gyms and swimming pools on camp and bases

Opportunities to travel

Free and subsidised medical and dental care

Subsidised food and accomodation on camps and bases

Free and subsidised insurance cover

Help to buy a home and save for retirement

Entry requirements



Fitness and Medical


Period of Service

  • You must be at least 17 years of age.
  • Meet the citizenship & security requirements to gain CV security clearance for this trade.

Minimum: NCEA Level 2 certificate.

To be competitive: NCEA Level 3.

Find out more about the NCEA levels and certificate requirements

  • 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.

Find out if you’re eligible here.

Your RNZAF training is some of the most thorough and advanced in the world.

On graduation as an Aircraft Technician, you’ll be obliged to spend another 24 months in the Air Force.

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