Restructure of Avionics Systems Technician Training a Win-Win for RCAF

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Magazine Article / June 1, 2020

An Op TALENT Update: Aircraft Maintenance Training Renewal

As one of the Op TALENT initiatives launched in July 2019, the RCAF has been working at improving the path to operational effectiveness in air occupations by maximizing productive time in the training system. Using the Avionics (AVS) Technician occupation to trial a proof of concept, the focus of effort was put on modernizing and streamlining the basic occupation training, while simultaneously enhancing the quality of life for aviators and their families.

Previously, apprentice aircraft technicians typically spent from 33 to 54 months in the training system before reaching a competency level considered suitable and safe to work on aircraft. This spectrum (as shown below) was characterized by unproductive time away from home, waiting for outdated training with often undue hardship on families.

Adjustments made to the sequence of training (as shown below) means that technicians now will start their occupational journey at the Canadian Forces School of Aerospace, Technology and Engineering (CFSATE) at 16 Wing in Borden, Ontario. There they will receive training that is common to all aircraft maintenance trades, after which they will be pre-positioned to the location and fleet where they will receive on-the-job (OJT) training and later return for employment upon qualification. Upon successful completion of their OJT, the students return to the school to receive the modernized and optimized version of their occupation-specific training.

Another revision in the training sequence is the removal of the up-front Performance Oriented Electronics Training (POET) training, as the complete curriculum is no longer relevant to the scope of maintenance being done today.  During the modernization effort, it was determined that abbreviating and integrating relevant POET content into the Qualification Level 3 (QL3) course would reduce training time, as well as the requirement for additional student travel.

All told, these changes have shortened the time to achieve aircraft-type qualification to an estimated 28-39 months, a potential reduction by as many as 15 months. Feedback to date indicates that field units are very happy with the new concept because they know the technicians that arrive for OJT will return to them upon completion of their occupation training in Borden. Student feedback also has been positive, as members now have a sense of belonging and are able to proudly wear their unit affiliations much earlier in their training continuum.

Overall, the new concept allows for more rapid force generation of AVS technicians making the RCAF more agile, efficient, and effective. In addition to being a force multiplier, members are more motivated and ready to tackle their occupation-specific training having developed an appreciation for the “real world” during their OJT phase. Members with families are better supported as a result of being afforded geographic stability and access to wing-level support services much earlier. That in turn allows for the development of a stronger support network, while members are away from home completing the balance of their training. It’s a win-win proposition for the RCAF and for its people.

“Using the Avionics occupation as a proof of concept, we have received very positive feedback,” said Colonel Andrew Wedgwood, Director A4 Maintenance at 1 Canadian Air Division Headquarters in Winnipeg and Occupation Advisor for the Air Maintenance occupations.  “Moving forward, the goal will be to expand the program to the balance of the aircraft maintenance occupations for consistency in delivery and benefits.”

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