Pilot promotion prospects.



In the RAF, a lot of the most senior officers were pilots at some time in their career. I do want to be a pilot in the FAA (filling out an Officer Information Form right now) but I'm curious (not worried!) about promotion prospects for pilots in the FAA.
I was told by a Lieutenant Commander (works with the RNR) that he regards the FAA as the elite of the RN as they can pick and choose their candidates, whereas all the other branches are having difficulty recruiting.
So, as a pilot, am I ever likely to see a command/reach Commodore?

Thanks in advance.


War Hero
Book Reviewer
Hate to shatter any illusions here, but the last time I was in contact with the AIB (about 6 months ago) the pass score required by a Warfare Officer was higher than that needed for Aircrew. People were applying and being told that they had not made the grade for Warfare Officer, but did thay fancy being Aircrew. The knock on effect was that those Aircrew failing grading during their second phase at BRNC were chopped without the option to transfer. (v frustrating for the staff who had expended time an effort on people who would have made good officers in the round - in fact those who were worth this did a swift re sit of the AIB and re-appeared at the College a few months later!!).This may have changed but it serves as an example of how perceptions can change.


I thought aircrew were warfare officers?
I'll still go for aircrew anyway, and then warfare officer if I fail FATs/medical.
It depends on how your career pans out. If you do 1, may be 2 flying jobs, then get your Bridge Watchkeeping Ticket, become a PWO, pass your Command Exams, pass both XCAB and SASB, do well when you take your shiny ship to FOST and are lucky, then you'll have a fighting chance of promotion to 1* and beyond.

If you want to fly continually, get no experience outside of a NAS, generally slag off the fish-heads, you'll be lucky to push for 2 1/2, maybe 3 stripes if you pass your air Command Exams and broaden.

The long and short of it is that the Navy requires Ship and Boat drivers, and nearly all 2 - 4* officers have had 2 or 3 Sea Commands. If you want to reach high rank by flying then I'm afraid it's the RAF for you!

*edit for poor england


Agree totally with alfred. If you want to drive ships, then you need to go down the PWO route. There are a few Cdrs who get SASB'd and have never been a PWO, but nowadays, they are very few and far between.

If you want to have a great job and work with great people, join the FAA. If you want back stabbing and snobbery, book yourself on the PWO course.
I would suggest that how far you go up the promotion ladder is down to two factors, how able you are at the job. If you are a duffer you won't get that far, but if you are average or above it will depend very much on how promotion orientated you are. On the other hand every promotion has it's price and for may there comes a time when that price is too high. But then again life is about choices, and high rank does not always bring happines.

perhaps things have changed since i left,but to my knowledge all aircraft carriers and air station captains were pilots most of which ended up wth a flag rank.
Having had experience of all 3 CVS, and 5 COs, I can state none were pilots, and 2 were Submariners. Can't speak about Naval Air Stations, however I suspect these are WAFUs (but again, they're most likely to have had time as a Fishhead).


War Hero
The old man at RNAS Culdrose is a pilot (Lynx IIRC) and has had at least two sea commands, most recently HMS Bulwark.
higthepig said:
perhaps things have changed since i left,but to my knowledge all aircraft carriers and air station captains were pilots most of which ended up wth a flag rank.

In my day Pilots were mostly fixed wing and we had real flight decks

The pilots /observers that lived long enough as a Lt got Two and a half and a desk job!!

They used to have a Commander [Air] but the Captain was usually Exec Branch next step Commodore or Flag rank.
come now greenie.Captains of eagle 57 to 59 were captain m le fanu and captain j b frewen,both pilots,same eagle ten years later,captain j e pope. all flag officers of fleet air arm were pilots,commando carriers tended to have general service captains.