As a Navy Helicopter Loadmaster (HLM), you are a key member of a Seasprite helicopter crew, within 6 Squadron, RNZN. Your office is an advanced and agile aircraft designed to operate in a range of extreme environments all over the world.

  • Service
  • Specialisation
  • Location
  • Starting Trade Training
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About the role

The Navy’s helicopters are crewed by Navy personnel and maintained by Air Force personnel. Navy Pilots, trained by the Air Force, fly and crew the Super Seasprite helicoptersNavy Observers, trained by the Australian Navy, manage the mission and Navy Helicopter Loadmaster's perform varied tasks on-board. These range from winching, photography, load lifting, in-flight refuelling and operating the Mag 58 machine gun.

The types of tasks your crew will be involved in are varied to say the least. You will work with the Pilot and Observer to ensure the mission is completed safely and effectively.

Some tasks are time critical in their execution, so you will be trained to quickly analyse the situation, determine a course of action and communicate it effectively to achieve the mission.

Job on base

6 Squadron is based at RNZAF Base Auckland in Whenuapai and is one of the force elements under the command of the Air Component Commander (ACC), Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. Whilst at sea, you will be under the command of the Maritime Component Commander (MCC), Headquarters Joint Forces New Zealand. 


The majority of your time will be spent on flying missions, but you will spend the remainder of your time on base preparing for missions or carrying out training activities to enhance your trade knowledge and your core military skills. These include physical training, equipment checks, weapon drills, first aid, survival escape and evasion techniques.


As a Helicopter Loadmaster, you are required to maintain your technical knowledge of the aircraft and the way it is operated. You will also work on projects, and conduct secondary duties required to keep the Squadron running effectively. There is also time for exercise and sports to maintain your fitness.

Job on deployment

The helicopters can be deployed from RNZAF Base Auckland to Navy ships TE KAHA, TE MANA, CANTERBURY, OTAGO, WELLINGTON and eventually AOTEAROA. When on-board frigates TE KAHA and TE MANA, the aircraft primarily fulfils a combat and surveillance role and some transport and resupply capability. When deployed on-board Multi Role Vessel CANTERBURY and Offshore Patrol Vessels OTAGO and WELLINGTON the aircraft is primarily tasked to provide transport and resupply capabilities with some reconnaissance and surveillance.


You and your crew will contribute towards the ship, Navy and overall NZDF mission, you may find yourself flying around the globe at 260kph and 50ft above the ground or sea, being the eyes and ears for the Pilot and Observer. This could be everything from search and rescue to locating submarines or providing overwatch for a boarding team. You could also find yourself looking along the tail section of the aircraft as it descends into a forest clearing, or down a winch cable as you lift someone out of the sea.

We operate with many different agencies like DOC, MPI, even international aid at times and disaster relief. Every single time... you know you're really helping people on the ground.

Career progression and training

Career progression

Basic training

Job training

Ongoing Training

You will be required to complete Basic Common Training at HMNZS PHILOMEL, Auckland, before moving onto aircrew training at RNZAF Bases Auckland and Ohakea. These training courses will teach you escape and evasion techniques in survival situations, aviation medicine, principles of flight, and mathematics – all crucial skills for your Helicopter Loadmaster role. On completion of this initial training you will progress to the Helicopter Basic Course run by 3 Squadron in RNZAF Ohakea to learn the basics on the A109 helicopter and earn your brevet, the half wing that symbolises your qualification.

After the Helicopter Basic Course you will be streamed into working as aircrew for Seasprite aircraft, and posted to 6 Squadron, RNZAF Auckland to undertake the Seasprite Aircraft Conversion Course and Operational Conversion Course. Once you have completed your training ashore you will be posted to a ship with an aircraft as part of a Flight with a Pilot, Observer and Helicopter Loadmaster Instructor to complete your training at sea. You will then remain posted to the ship to begin your career as an operational Navy Helicopter Loadmaster.

This will involve travel opportunities and rewarding flying off the back of a ship out at sea. Later in your career, you may have the opportunity to fulfil a non flying role to assist with projects or develop your leadership potential. Eventually, you could be selected as an instructor where you will be able to develop and train new Helicopter Loadmasters at 6 Squadron or go on exchange to 3 Squadron at RNZAF Ohakea to instruct Helicopter Loadmaster students on the Helicopter Basic Course.

Upon successful enlistment into the Navy you will be posted to Devonport, Auckland. Here you will do 16 weeks of basic military training to find out if you have what it takes to be in the Navy, and learn various subjects including:

  • Teamwork and support
  • Naval history and customs
  • Drill and parades
  • Core mariner skills and weapons training
  • First aid and firefighting
  • Physical fitness
  • Self-discipline

Survival and combined Non-Commissioned Officer Aircrew Course

You will complete a two week survival course at RNZAF Auckland which will see you test your limits in the sea, coastal and bush environments learning to live off the environment and be rescued. You will also complete the Combined Non-Commissioned Officer Aircrew Course at RNZAF Ohakea. This course gives you the foundation of aircrew training and includes topics such as aviation medicine, human factors, principles of flight, navigation and meteorology.

Helicopter Basic Course (RNZAF OHAKEA)

You will begin with the A109 ground school, with maintenance specialists to learn the technical aspects of the aircraft. Then the Helicopter Loadmaster instructors will take over and teach you ground theory, flying orders and operating procedures crucial to helicopter aircrew. Your flying phase will be intense and challenging. However, you will have the support of the Helicopter Loadmaster Instructors at 3 Squadron along with your course mates to help you get through. The course has mostly practical elements, with one on one instructor time working as part of a helicopter crew. You will be taught how to give directions to manoeuvre the aircraft within a forest clearing, operate the rescue hoist, operate Night Vision Goggles and lift underslung loads with the aircraft. Through hard work and determination you will be graduate and recognised as a Helicopter Loadmaster. You will then be posted to RNZAF Auckland to complete the SEASPRITE aircraft conversion course.

Seasprite Aircraft and Operational Conversion Course

The SEASPRITE Aircraft Conversion course will expand on your baseline Helicopter Loadmaster skills to become a SEASPRITE Helicopter Loadmaster. You complete SEASPRITE specific ground school and then learn the differences in the way the SEASPRITE operates.

During the Operational Conversion Course you will learn to support the crew in a tactical environment, locating and tracking submarines and warships in the simulator and in exercises with real assets. You will also be trained to operate the Mag 58 machine gun and learn how the helicopter is employed as missile or torpedo carrier when required. In addition to this, you will be taught how to move personnel and cargo from ship to shore and vice versa by winch, the aircraft cargo hook or inside the cabin.

To remain competent you will regularly conduct training in all aspects of the SEASPRITE’s capabilities and the aviation domain. Along with the Helicopter Loadmaster training, you will conduct specific training in advanced winching and load lifting techniques, warfare, meteorology, aircraft systems and leadership. You will continually be provided with the skills, mentoring and opportunities to be a successful serviceperson, both within your specialist trade and as a member of the NZDF.

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Salary and benefits

Careers in the Navy 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 accommodation 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

  • Be a minimum of 17 years of age upon entry.
  • Be free of any criminal conviction for the previous two years.

There are strict citizenship and security requirements to gain the TSV security clearance required 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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