Pilot streams

Discussion in 'The Fleet Air Arm' started by SolidSnake100, Mar 5, 2015.

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  1. Hi,

    I recently passed my AIB for aircrew (pilot). One question I have which I didn't think about at the board (and they were shady on at the AFCO), is how much choice is there after grading to choose which stream (helicopter or fast jet) that you want to be in (if any), and assuming helicopter, can you influence whether it's anti-sub, S+R or marine drops?

    I also saw that the training pipeline has a lot of holdovers - how long are these? Does that affect the return of service?


    (sorry for the double post in the recruitment forum, saw this afterwards)
  2. This has been discussed before but there's not really a massive amount you can do apart from achieve the very highest standard you can in all that you do from BRNC, through groundschool and, of course, the flying part of the course. You will be given ample opportunity to express your desired choice of aircraft but you still have to be able to demonstrate the particular skills and personal attributes necessary for each job and this is why it starts on day one of joining the RN and not day one of flying training.
    Clearly, to go fast-jet you need to be able to think a good deal ahead of the aircraft. It's a forgone conclusion that you'll already have to have a pretty good 'pair of hands' but the physical flying is such a small part of picture that it's almost not worth mentioning. Your instrument and formation flying would have given the instructors a pretty good idea of your raw handling skills but it's things like the low level navigation etc that better demonstrate your abilities to think ahead of the aircraft. This in turn will later translate into how you can command and control a formation of aircraft in a multi-aircraft fight or how you succeed in getting all the bombs from your formation on target and on time, having avoided the aggressors. Being able to do the low level nav etc has to be second nature because at the end of the day you're there to destroy the target on time, not merely mince around the planet demonstrating an ability to map read.

    The reason I talk about BRNC and groundschool is because there's more than just the flying side of things. There's a lot of studying involved for both fixed and rotary wing but, believe me, they are not going to send you fast-jet if you can fly the aircraft like an ace but your groundschool is piss-poor. They want to see someone who they know is going to be able to hack the entire course and that involves a good deal of effort and self-discipline, as well as a reasonable degree of intelligence (ahem). Poor groundschool results are a good indicator that someone is either not putting in the effort or might not have the nouse to succeed on the course (probably the former). Likewise, self-discipline and standards need to be demonstrably high since you're going to be a single-seat pilot and there's only you in the cockpit to make sure things get done professionally, every time. To assess this your personal and officer-like abilities will be examined from the day you joined Dartmouth. This does not mean you have to be some inky swot who stays in every night polishing his shoes; in fact, quite the opposite but it does mean you need to be able to know when it's a good idea to go on a run ashore with your mates and when you really need to be putting in some book time ahead of the next phase of training.

    I'm not a rotary guru but I think I know enough to say that, again, it's different strokes for different folks. Someone who is good at low level nav and has decent flying skills is likely to be streamed towards Jungly or Marine drops as you call them). A bloke or blokess with good flying skills, maybe a bit older than their course mates and with possibly higher officer-like qualities than their peers would probably find themselves off to the Lynx where they could be 2IC of a ship's flight in short order. Search and rescue is not something the RN does straight from training (that's a Crab thing) but after at least one tour on any type it's a possibility. This, of course, leaves the Pingers and the fact that I've extolled the virtues of everyone else might give the impression that anti-submarine pilots are scraping the bottom of the barrel. Of course this is absolutely untrue and ASW jockeys will have demonstrated good piloting skills, or else they would never pass the course, but they'll also be seen as pilots that work well in a multi-crew environment and once they become aircraft commanders they'll have to do well to make sure the whole crew is an effective unit, which clearly has its own challenges and requires certain abilities. I will end my helicopter speech by end by saying that just because you end up flying egg whisks does not mean your fixed wing chances are ruled out. It may well be there are no fixed wing slots available when you finish EFT and, despite having demonstrated all the skills required, you'd have no choice but to go rotary. This has happened MANY times and it will continue to do so. You may have fallen a bit short on any of the skills I mentioned above but a tour on helicopters might have fixed that. This is especially true of the younger trainees because they might not have been judged mature enough to go on the fixed wing course but a helo tour would have helped them grow up a bit. Etc, etc, etc. At the end of the day I would estimate at my time on the jet, some 75-odd % of SHAR drivers were ex-helo drivers, so it's still a possibility if you don't get it first time round.

    It's probable that since my time things have changed a lot but it was certainly the case that the return of service started on conclusion of OFT so, yes, holdover times will affect the return of service since you'll have to be in the RN longer before you can complete it. Since the SHAR course used to be so much longer than the wobblehead course it did mean we also had a fair bit longer to serve but, then again, why on earth would you be even thinking of leaving when you haven't even joined yet? Your mindset should be getting in and succeeding as a Royal Navy pilot and all that that involves, not sorting out when you can leave and join an airline. If your mind does wander along those lines (and I'm not saying it does) then it will be picked up and will not be particularly well received in the 'attitude' tick box.

    Conclusion: work and play hard through EVERY stage of EVERY course and you'll find that more doors are opened to the wish list you are asked to provide (with an emphasis on 'wish').

    PS: You can delete the post in 'Joining up' now.
    • Informative Informative x 2
    • Like Like x 1
  3. Excellent response - a refreshing change from crushing stat's that inevitably rain down anyone brave enough to declare themselves currently applying to become a military pilot (or attempting to break into aviation in general actually).
  4. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    You caught Pontius on one of his good days. :cool:
    • Like Like x 1
  5. I noticed - Make hay while the sun shines and all that..
  6. He hasnt written it!! He got "Dave" his favourite Cabin (Crew) Boy to do it:)
  7. I'm very lucky where I am; only girly cabin crew and not a bloke in sight. It's a tough job but you know the rest :)
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  8. Some of the male trolley dollies are so effeminate they could pass as female:D
  9. I'm not sure if they give you your aircrew aptitude scores these days, but I did a study a few years back when working in the HQ Flying Training team which seemed to show a very close correlation between Observer aptitude score and success in FJ training. No at all surprising given the spare mental capacity needed to fly and fight a FJ.

    Yes it is true that holdovers are still with us (and when I left a couple of years back were projected to get longer before they got shorter) but spare a thought for the crabs. I had one young Flt Lt on holdover in my last squadron whose holdover between basic and advanced RW was 2.5 years - longer than my entire flying training from starting survival training to spitting out into the front line. His total training from joining Cranwell to full combat ready was looking like 9 years!
    • Informative Informative x 1
  10. I know at least 1 Obs who became a RW Pilot, and one who became a SHAR Pilot.
  11. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    I know of a killick stoker who became a SHAR pilot. I guess he had to be good at something.
  12. Not only that but he also even managed to pass the helo course on the way to the SHAR, so not a bad record at all. He's not altogether a bad bloke either (just in case he reads this) but he does support a particularly crap Ozzie rules footy team and can't hold his beer (again, just in case he reads this) :)

  13. But was he a real Killick Stoker?
    By this I mean did he take his Dhoby bucket to Dartmouth?:D
  14. I know lots of Chefs that became Lynx pilots, me included! :)
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  15. Was he the one who drop kicked his helmet over the side? Not having a good day? :(

    Or was that you Pontius? :)
  16. No not me and not the chap who sent his bonedome for a swim.......correct squadron though :)
    • Like Like x 1
  17. Ninja_Stoker

    Ninja_Stoker War Hero Moderator

    Just to update those aspiring to be Pilots...

    The upper age for Officer Aircrew (Pilots/Observers) has been reverted back to age 25 with immediate effect.

    That is to say you must commence Initial Officer Training at BRNC before your 26th birthday.

    Be aware if you apply online, the current parameters take yonks to sort out, so if over age 24, your application will probably be rejected. If it is, ring 03456 07 55 55 and haggle.
  18. Glasge Ned and very good Pilot? :) Bye the way Pontius. BZ on answering the OPs question without bringing down the wrath of the RR Polly Anna's...;)
    • Funny Funny x 1
  19. Is the change correlated to manning requirements and the Queen Elizabeth aircraft carriers?

    Has there been any talk about Aircrewman age limits changing? Seems odd that you can join up to 30 internally but have to be 26 joining externally. Is there a reason for this?
  20. Interesting, my understanding from a conversation with an AFCO CA2 only 2 months ago seemed to suggest that we were still only recruiting a handful of aircrew entrants per year compared to the 60 odd Ps and 28 Os that we were bringing in just 10 years ago. I appreciate that that we are looking to try to grow some more FJ Ps for F35 but unless the crabs give us more spaces on the FJ courses which they have always been reluctant to do, more in the front end doesn't man more gains to the trained strength, just longer holdovers, longer pipelines and disgruntled students. Have they sorted out the training pipelines to take the higher numbers that they think this might draw in or are we simply not getting the people through the front door to make even the low numbers we were recruiting?

    I must confess I'm not wholly convinced that it is the right approach though. It was a long battle about 6-7 years ago to try to bring it down to under 24 in line with the RAF (which I hasten to add I didn't win - it was changed after I left CNR). The failure rate in flying training for those over 24 on entering BRNC was exponential.
    Furthermore, we had people coming through just under 26 who if they did make it, by the time they made it to their first front line sqn and subsequent CofC were well into their 30s which didn't do much for their promotion prospects.
    The difference with Aircrewmen was twofold. 1, the failure rates were much less and didn't seem to be quite so age related and 2, the length of the training pipeline which meant that someone starting Aircrewman training at 30 could still end up crewed in OCP with a P or O of the same age who had joined at 25.
    • Informative Informative x 1

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