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Air observer officer- what should i expect?



Thinking of joining the navy as an observer in the fleet air arms.

I understand the training is intense and selection is going to be tough.

Question is...
What working patterns and working hours are to be expected of this role? For example how often will I be at sea and for what periods of time?

Thank you, appreciate your replies as I cant find any info on this.
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Yes, had a good read of the document, I have made two choices in regards to job roles from all the info on the navy site and speaking to careers adviser at my local navy office. My two choices are Observer and AET. However having a degree I wanted to do myself justice and go for the officer role, it is something I really want to do and I would love to work with helicopters.

I have a young son and want to prepare myself and my partner in terms of separation periods in either role. I am 24 and was told I may only just be eligible to go for observer as I am getting too old, but if there is a chance I will grab it with both hands.


War Hero
I see.

You should still have time to squeeze in. When are you 26?

Top tip:

Officers are required to reach a minimum score in each individual section of the psychometric test - some candidates find the mechanical comprehension section tricky, by the way. Make sure that you are really at the top of your game when you take the test. Do lots of prep for it and pass it; waiting for a retake will cut it very fine indeed if you are looking at Observer.

There are various books and websites which will help.
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War Hero
By the way, I'm pretty sure that we have a resident Observer on Rum Ration. He/she tends to pop up in the early evenings, so he/she might have something to add which will help you when he/she is around tomorrow or later in the week.
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Lantern Swinger
Be prepared for some long detachments once training is complete, your deployment lengths will vary but could be up to 6 months or possibly longer.


War Hero
I would also think about your answer to the inevitable question you're going to get in the AIB regarding your statement that it's something you 'really want to do' and yet you're 24 before doing something about it. Doesn't sound a particularly burning desire to me and I'm sure their Lordships at the AIB might consider the same point. Of course, having satisfactorily answered that question in your own mind, it is important that you're able to demonstrate the steps you've taken to achieve your aim, even if it is a relatively recent epiphany. Observer or AET...pretty broad career choice!


Soleil : I am 26 on 14th of Jan 2014. Thank you for the advice on testing - I have been doing practice tests and I am getting around 85% plus in these Psychometric tests. What score will I need to achieve for observer,pilot, AET?

Pontius :

It is something I really want to do...I did not say it's 'always' something I have wanted to do which explains why at 24 I want to do it. Only recently have I become aware (through TV adverts and speaking to a member of the navy) of careers and prospects of the Navy and yes I do wish I had done it along time ago but I was unaware of what the Navy had to offer.

I was unsure on school leaving (like many people) what to do in terms of career, so I went to Uni and got a degree in building surveying, to which I had a short stint of temporary work and just like many people leaving uni struggled to get a permanent position in a surveying role. I was attracted by the money not because I have a passion for that role.

The thought of a career in the Navy, in the fleet air arms excites me and I feel passion towards the role (having a career/ promotion prospects/travel/ navy life and sports).

The reason for the somewhat broad career choices are as follows...

Through my own research and reading I want to be either a Pilot or an Observer, however I have a good friend in the navy based in Cornwall who is an AET and advised me to go for an AET as another choice, as he loves his job, and says it is enjoyable and rewarding, through research and watching videos & speaking to navy office recruitment I can see myself content and well suited to AET role. Also I was told I may be fast tracked due to having a degree and I really want to get going, as at the minute I own a car wash and valeting business....not where I want to be but bringing in the bacon.

As for a pilot.. I would love to be one but I feel I may have left it too late, and many of the younger candidates may be stronger candidates for the job.

Advice is greatly appreciated and you guys know what it takes as I am just embarking on the journey.
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I don't wear glasses and I am able to read small print at a fair distance but until I have the eye test I really couldn't give an accurate answer.


Thanks very useful. I have my test on 21st of this month, have been revising but need to be 100% confident on all areas. Thanks again.


War Hero
I, like Pontius am confused over the diverse career choices. AET - rating, starting at the bottom and facing an up hill climb. Having a degree will show you can learn but will being an AET stimulate enough to keep you interested and remain in the service. Or, will you switch mid career to officer and because of age be limited to specialisation!

As an Observer/Pilot, your entry level will be officer and all the 'perks' that includes. I will leave that for Talking Baggage, (site Obs) and Pontius, pilot extraordinaire to educate you on. That said, being an officer is not all flying, sunglasses and Pims on the flight deck. There is a mountain of paperwork, as well as being responsible for a handful of ratings, there admin, development and welfare.


23rd at 10am just checked my letter.

Waspie - Any idea of waiting times in terms of Observer/ Pilot providing I am successful in all testing? I gathered it was around 2 years, similar to AET. I have been in admin positions previously for the council and in terms of management of ratings I am currently managing my staff and workload schedules so have some experience of tasking and developing/training skills of employees.

Are you satisfied in your job role? and is Navy life all you expected and more?
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War Hero
Dude, I don't mean to sound like a dick but it's the Fleet Air Arm. Not arms. There's only one.

You've called it "arms" more than once now, and it's gripping my shit.
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