A career as a Royal Navy Aircraft Technician

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David Millington is a technician apprentice in the Royal Navy. His job involves maintaining aircraft such as Harrier jets or helicopters on board carriers at sea.

What was it like joining the Navy?

It was my first time away from home. Although I am from Kenya, I felt a long way from my family – as did many who came from more local families - but we are kept so busy during initial training that you don't have time to be homesick.

Why choose to train as an aircraft technician?

I've always wanted to work with aircraft. I started as an air engineer mechanic working on Harrier jets. I was getting high grades and good reports so my boss recommended me for a technician apprenticeship. I had to submit some of my written work and attend an interview, at which senior officers tested me on my knowledge and motivation.

How long is the training?

Four years. Like everyone who joins the Navy I started with basic training – two months at HMS Raleigh. I'm part way through a Foundation degree in air engineering at HMS Sultan. A lot of it is in the classroom with some practical workshops.

What is the job you will be doing?

How2Become - Join the Navy

I can express a preference for the type of aircraft I want to work on. This could be Harriers which I already know about, or I could choose a specific type of helicopter. It also depends on what the Navy needs. I could be working on an aircraft carrier when working on Harrier jets. Either way, I will be part of a team of technicians and mechanics maintaining the aircraft and dealing with any faults.

What's the best thing about your job?

I never thought I'd be able to work on Harriers. And I get such a lot from my job – the pay's good and we get generous leave. I've travelled to places I never imagined I'd see – America and Poland.

What about taking responsibility?

It feels like a big responsibility that the safety of an aircraft and its crew depend on me. When they're flying at night off an aircraft carrier it can be very hectic. We are well trained in safety to minimise any risk of falling overboard.

What about sport?

I play cricket for my Station and for the Navy under 25's. I like climbing too. I've been to New Zealand and I'm very excited about taking part in an expedition to Kilimanjaro as it's so close to my own country.

And the future?

I want to learn to fly. I can do this at reduced cost through the Navy. Prospects are good as a technician. I may get accelerated promotion as long as I get good reports and pass a Board which tests me on my technical knowledge. Promotion often means being more office based, with more paper work.

David's Aircraft Technician tips

  • There are loads of opportunities – take them!
  • Prospects are good once you qualify.

Becoming a Royal Navy Aircraft Technician

  • Technicians work in three specialist areas- air engineering, marine engineering and weapon engineering. Marine and weapon technicians are known by their traditional naval title "Artificer ".
  • Air engineering technicians train in aircraft practices and engineering, academic and administrative skills at an advanced level.
  • The Royal Navy Awards a Foundation Degree to all technicians who complete their professional training.

Modified: 16 June 2013

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