As a Safety & Surface Technician you will be responsible for keeping our aircraft and equipment in peak operational condition.

  • Service
    Air Force
  • Specialisation
    Engineering and Technical Trades
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
AF Safety & Surface 2 (2022)
AF Safety & Surface (2022)

About the role

S&S Techs have one of the most varied roles in the Defence Force. The name Safety and Surface has proud historical roots reaching back to its origins with the Royal Air Force of Great Britain. However these days, Safety and Surface is essentially the banner for three aeronautical engineering specialisations carried out within our Air Force.

  1. Aerial Delivery Equipment: This includes parachute rigging (repair and maintenance) for all personnel and cargo parachute systems. This is essential work to allow insertion of specialist operators, equipment and supplies into operational theatres, or to provide humanitarian aid and disaster relief.
  2. Aeronautical Finishing: This includes removal and application of surface finishes as well as associated repair and manufacture of aeronautical fabric and upholstery components. This is necessary to protect our aircraft from the variety of environments we operate in and keep them looking great.
  3. Aeronautical Life Support Equipment: This includes maintenance of aircrew helmets, oxygen and smoke masks, life preservers, flying clothing, immersion suits, life rafts, and helicopter emergency floatation systems. This is required to enable aircrew to carry out flying operations and keep our aircrew safe.

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 a S&S Tech you will work in a variety of roles carrying out Aeronautical Finishing tasks, repair and maintenance of Aerial Delivery Equipment and Aeronautical Life Support Equipment to allow aircraft and aircrew to meet the demands of flying operations.

Job on deployment

When an 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 deployed maintenance team supporting overseas operations and exercises.

Last line of defence

Ensuring perfection - the role of the Safety & Surface Technician

The saying goes that you’re having a bad day if you need some of the gear the Royal New Zealand Air Force's Safety and Surface team looks after.


On any given day, we're doing a range of different things. From painting an aircraft to packing a parachute.

Career Progression and training

Career Progression

Basic Training

Job Training

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 conference with experts from around the world. Later you will have opportunities to become an instructor and be part of the management team leading S&S through the ever-changing environment, as a member of a committed and capable Defence Force team.

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


After completing Recruit Training, Safety and Surface Mechanics begin a 59 week training program at RNZAF Base Woodbourne. After completion of training, Safety and Surface Mechanics carry out a two year consolidation period at RNZAF Base Ohakea and RNZAF Base Auckland. This will take them through to the Safety and Surface Technicians course, which is held at RNZAF Base Ohakea.


15 week certificate in 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
  • Maintenance practices

38 week Safety and Surface Mechanics course covering:

  • Manufacture and repair of aeronautical fabric components (general trade practices, ropes, knots and splices, sewing machines, upholstery fabric work)
  • Maintenance and repair of Aerial Delivery Equipment (parachutes and associated equipment)
  • Maintenance of Aeronautical Life Support Equipment (aircrew helmets, flying clothing, life preservers, aircraft emergency packs)
  • Maintenance of Inflation Equipment (Life rafts and associated equipment, CO2 cylinder charging)

24 month on base consolidation training:

Safety and Surface Mechanics will complete a 24 month training consolidation period working in a variety of roles and locations including experience on bases Ohakea and Auckland. They will be guided through equipment type specific training by qualified personnel to ensure they are fully competent to work on aircraft and aeronautical equipment on operational units. This is likely to include operational experience in a variety of deployed environments and / or the following maintenance bay’s.

  • Cargo Aerial Delivery Equipment Bay (OH)
  • Personnel Aerial Delivery Equipment Bay (AK)
  • Aeronautical Life Support Equipment Bay (OH/AK)
  • Aeronautical Fabric Bay (OH/AK)
  • Operational Squadrons at Ohakea and Auckland, including, operational deployments and exercises at home and around the world.

14 week Safety and Surface Technician course covering:

  • Surface Finishing preparation (plastic media and chemical coating removal, pre-treating surfaces, corrosion control)
  • Application of Aeronautical coating systems (painting and refurbishing of aircraft, aeronautical components and equipment)
  • Application of non-aeronautical coating systems (painting and refurbishment of ground support equipment)
  • Application of aeronautical markings (computer generated designs, decals and stencils)


After completing the training progression you will be eligible to receive the following national certificates:

  •  New Zealand Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Specialist Support) Aircraft furnishings and equipment Level 4
  •  New Zealand Certificate in Aeronautical Engineering (Specialist Support) Aircraft Painting Level 4

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

AF Safety & Surface 3 (2022)

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

Minimum: 3 years secondary school. Note, qualifications may be used to assess trade suitability.

To be competitive: NCEA Level 2.

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.

There may be a return of service period for this trade.

Please contact our 0800 number or talk to your Candidate Experience Facilitator for more information.


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