Air Chief Marshal Goonetileke joined the Sri Lanka Air Force as an Officer Cadet in the General Duties Pilot Branch on 13 January 1978. On successful completion of flying training, he was commissioned in the rank of Pilot Officer on 24 August 1979.
During his illustrious career of 28 years, he has held a number of command, operational and administrative appointments. Having logged many flying hours both in fixed wing and rotary wing aircrafts, he served in the capacity of an operational pilot as the Commanding Officer of No 03 Maritime Squadron and the Commanding Officer of No. 04 Helicopter Wing. He took up senior operational command appointments as the Zonal Commander Northern Zone and Zonal Commander Eastern Zone.
He has commanded Air Force Base in Katunayake, Anuradhapura and China Bay. He served a very successful tenure as the Director of Operations / Deputy Chief of Staff Operations of the Air Force, before being appointed as the Chief of Staff. He took over office as the 12th Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force on 11 June 2006.
On 18 May 2009, with the successful conclusion of the Humanitarian Operations, he was promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal by His Excellency the President in appreciation of the valuable service rendered. His promotion was very significant as he was the only Air Force Commander to be promoted to the rank of Air Chief Marshal whilst on active service.
On 05 October 2009 he was appointed the Chairman of the Civil Aviation Authority of Sri Lanka by His Excellency the President, in addition to his duties as the Commander of the Sri Lanka Air Force. Further, he has also been additionally entrusted with the duties and responsibilities of over looking the office of the Chief of Defence Staff.
Air Chief Marshal Goonetileke graduated from the Air Command and Staff College, Air University, Alabama, USA in 1994 and had also attended the prestigious National Defence College in Pakistan in 2001.
In recognition of his distinguished service career he has been awarded the "Uttama Seva Padakkama". He has been decorated with the "Rana Wickrama Padakkama" on two occasions for bravery displayed in the face of the enemy. Air Chief Marshal Goonetileke is married to Nelun and they are blessed with son Rehan and daughter Ronali.
Air Chief Marshal WDRMJ Goonetileke, the 12th commander of the SLAF, relinquished Command on 27th February 2011.