It’s an Air Engineering first for Accelerated Apprentices

It was a momentous occasion at HMS Sultan recently when the first trainees on the Accelerated Apprentice Scheme (Air Engineering) successfully graduated from their Leading Air Engineering Technician Qualifying Course.

Having joined the Royal Navy in November 2017, as Probationary Leading Hands, the students spent the first 10 weeks at HMS Raleigh where they were 'transformed' into sailors. From there they joined the Royal Naval Air Engineering and Survival Equipment School (RNAESS) at HMS Sultan for completion of the first of their professional qualifying courses.

The first 14 weeks were spent at 764 Initial Training Squadron, where they learned the basics of aircraft maintenance in order to enable them to qualify as a technician. Following this intensive course, they proceeded to RNAS Yeovilton where they completed training on their aircraft type (Merlin Mk4 and Wildcat HMA Mk2). As well as learning how to safely maintain the aircraft, ensuring they can take off whenever they are needed, this six-month period was also an opportunity to shadow qualified Leading Air Engineering Technicians in order to help them understand their future roles and responsibilities as aircraft maintenance supervisors.

The AA trainees returned to RNAESS in January 2019 to commence their Leading Air Engineering Technician Qualifying Course. This course provides deeper academic and technical training as well as preparing future LAETs with the skills necessary to act as an aircraft maintenance supervisor.

Having graduated they will now undertake their Leading Rates’ Leadership Course (LRLC) at the Royal Navy Leadership Academy, before they rejoin their Air Stations for completion of their Certificate of Competency and their first complement role on a Naval Air Squadron.

I wanted to go to university but didn’t want to be sat in the classroom all the time. When I saw this come up, with a good career, offering good money, working in something I wanted to do, I knew it was for me.

LAET Sam Cresswell

Become an Apprentice

As part of their training all the apprentices have completed a Level 4 Certificate of Higher Education in Aeronautical Engineering. As they progress in their career, they will obtain further qualifications, including a Foundation Degree in Aeronautical Engineering when they are promoted to Petty Officer. These higher education qualifications are provided at no cost to the individuals.

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The end of the Air Engineering course now marks the successful completion of accelerated apprenticeships across all three Engineering Branch specialisations, with Marine Engineers also trained at HMS Sultan and Weapons Engineering from HMS Collingwood already serving in a variety of exciting roles at the heart of operations all over the globe.

LAET Sam Cresswell said: “I wanted to go to university but didn’t want to be sat in the classroom all the time. When I saw this come up, with a good career, offering good money, working in something I wanted to do, I knew it was for me. I’d done a BTEC level 3 in general engineering and didn’t really know aircraft, so it was quite scary to start with, but with the training pipeline and instructors we have it’s not been too difficult to learn everything needed to carry out my job, so I’m not that worried anymore.”

LAET Max Anning said: “I studied a BTEC Level 3 Diploma in Aeronautical Engineering at Farnborough College and then worked in the industry as an Engineering Technician. There are a lot of benefits to working with the RN, it’s a great environment to be in and you also get to travel the world. The training has been great and I’m really looking forward to getting out there and working with the Aircraft.”

The ceremony also saw the first full class of Air Engineering Technicians pass out of RNAESS to proceed directly to the Lightning Force at RAF Marham. These will be the first AETs who begin their careers on Lightning II; as to date the AETs employed on the force have come from other aircraft types. As such, these will be the first group to complete the full Phase 2B training package at RAF Marham, which takes approximately 6 months. Once qualified, these sailors will be at the forefront of the most modern defence aviation, maintaining the UK Fleet of F35 jets. As the Lightning Force grows, they will be involved in embarkations on the QEC class carriers.