Army Air Corps

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The Army Air Corps (AAC) operates rotary aircraft in a variety of roles and tasks, both in front line and support operations. Whilst largely a rotary operation, fixed wing flying forms part of the training and operational reconnaissance and transport activities. The role of an AAC Officer demands both leadership and flying skills as one of the fastest moving Corps in the Army.

Army Air Corps Pilot requirements

Army life can be mentally and physically demanding. That’s why some medical conditions and on-going illnesses can stop you from joining. A full medical examination is part of the application process. In addition to the Regular Army medical requirements applicants for Army Air Corps pilot training have to meet the following further criteria in order to be considered before you start your application:

Health & Fitness requirements

Eyesight
Visual acuity without spectacles: 6/12
Visual acuity with spectacles: 6/6
Lens power: -0.75 to +1.75 dioptres
Astigmatism: Max of 0.75 dioptres
Colour perception: Ishihara test pass
Laser eye surgery is acceptable if done by PRK, LASEK or LASIK and the pre-surgery refraction did not exceed -5.00 to +2.00 diopters and is likely to be examined during the medical assessment.
Physical
Height
Minimum: 163cm (5’4″)
Maximum: 193cm (6’4″)
Weight:
Minimum: 60.4kg (9st 5lbs)
Maximum: 96.7kg (15st 3.18lbs)
In some circumstances, for applicants near these limits, a cockpit check will determine their suitability for training.

Medical

A definite history of migraine, asthma, alcohol or drug abuse and hay fever, unless free from the hay fever symptoms without medication for the previous four years, is normally a bar to pilot training.

Fitness Standards

Officer

Your fitness is tested during both stages of the Army Officer Selection Board process. Part of the assessment process is the beep test, which is used to measure your cardiovascular fitness. It involves running between two lines, 20 metres apart, within a fixed time determined by the beep. The interval between beeps steadily decreases, so you have to run faster. Your score is determined by the time at which you can no longer keep up. Other tests include sit-ups and press-ups. There are different fitness standards for male and female candidates. Have a look at the table below to find out how you’ll be tested. If you cannot achieve the required result you may be asked to leave the course.

TestMaleFemale
Beep testLevel 10.2Level 8.1
Sit-ups50 in two minutes50 in two minutes
Press-ups44 in two minutes21 in two minutes

Soldier

Your fitness is tested during the two-day selection process at an Army Development and Selection Centre. You will go through a range of strength and stamina tests, as well as a 1.5-mile run. The standards you need to meet in these tests depend on your choice of unit and job and staff at the centre will advise you on the specific requirements. The same fitness standards apply to both male and female soldiers. Your performance on each phase will be considered alongside all the other tests to give an overall score. If you are weak in one area you can make up for it on another test, so you should always give your best effort.

Becoming a Pilot

There are a number of ways of becoming a pilot in the Army, either as an officer or Non Commissioned Officer (NCO). The AAC accepts applications from both male and female applicants.

Officer: The AAC offers a number of twelve year Short Service Commissions each year to officer cadets, post commissioning from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). Ideally aircrew aptitude tests, aircrew medicals, and the Flying Grading Course should be completed before entering RMAS. If this is not possible officer cadets may be able to complete aircrew selection and medicals during their time at the Academy. Suitable candidates are interviewed by a Regimental Selection Board in week 26 of the course and successful applicants are commissioned into the AAC on their graduation.

Officer Assignment from another Regiment or Corps: There is also the opportunity for officers from any Regiment or Corps to volunteer for a tour with the AAC. You must have completed two years of commissioned service and be on the Army Pilots Course by the age of 30. Officers may apply for a transfer into the AAC during their flying tour. Those officers who do not wish to apply or are not accepted for transfer will return to their parent Unit or Corps.

Non-Commissioned Officer: Any soldier with the minimum rank of Lance Corporal, recommended and qualified for promotion to Corporal, with at least four years service, may apply for the Army Pilots Course. Selection procedures are the same as those for officers. Soldiers not already holding the rank of Acting Sergeant will be promoted to this rank and re-badged AAC on the award of their Army Flying Wings, following Conversion to Type training.

Nationality and Residency Requirements

Soldiers from across the Commonwealth and other countries have a long and proud tradition of service in the British Army. That tradition continues today. The Army welcomes applicants from certain countries and overseas territories, but you might need to have lived in the UK for a set period of time to be eligible for certain roles.

If you are a British Citizen, a British subject under the Nationality Act 1981, a British Protected Person or a Citizen of the Irish Republic (but not if you still live there), you can apply to the army for both officer and solider roles.

Citizen of a Commonwealth country or holding British Overseas Territories Citizenship –  You may require a period of residency in the UK for certain roles as a Soldier, but to be an Officer you should have resided in the UK for a period of five years before entering officer training. A waiver for this requirement may be granted in certain circumstances.

The role of the Pilot

Army aircrew are soldiers first and pilots second and this philosophy is reflected throughout the selection and training system.

As the fastest moving Corps in the Army, the AAC uses its fleet of helicopters to provide ground units with support, wherever and whenever they need it. From bringing in supplies to providing surveillance and destroying enemy positions, the Corps is one of the Army’s most flexible and potent weapons. As an Officer and pilot, you will have a unique dual role. You will use your leadership skills to get the best out of your team and you will also fly one of the Army’s combat helicopters.

It is a job that is continually challenging and offers tremendous satisfaction in return.

Age & Education

Age: 18 to 30, Male and Female.

Educational Qualifications for an Officer: 35 ALIS points (34 for SCEs) from 7 GCSE/SCE subjects, with a minimum grade C/2 in English language, maths and either a science or a foreign language; plus 180 UCAS Tariff points from at least two A level passes grades A-E or SCE Higher grades A-D.

Educational Qualifications for a Soldier: None.

You’ll also have to pass flying aptitude tests at RAFC Cranwell.

Personal Qualities

The role of Army Air Corps (AAC) Officer combines leadership and flying skills with the fastest moving Corps in the Army. The AAC uses its fleet of helicopters and fixed wing aircraft to provide ground units with support, wherever and whenever they need it. As an officer and pilot you will have a unique dual role. You will use your leadership skills to get the best out of your team, and you will also fly one of the Army’s combat helicopters or fixed wing reconnaissance aircraft.

The Army Air Corps requires its officers to have these essential qualities:

  • Selfless Commitment
  • Courage
  • Discipline
  • Integrity
  • Loyalty
  • Respect for others
  • A sense of responsibility
  • Leadership
  • Mental agility

An additional characteristic necessary within the AAC is a willingness to learn, along with an eagerness to put skills and training into practice.

Finance

There is no cost to learning to fly, unlike commercial aviation, you will be paid to learn how to fly from the outset.

See ‘What’s next?‘ for details of pay and conditions.

Management Training

The Commissioning Course at Sandhurst is accredited by the Chartered Management Institute. You will also receive a City and Guilds Certificate in Human Resource Management and credits that count towards courses offered by civilian providers, such as Bournemouth University’s Post Graduate Certificate in Human Resource Management and Edexcel/BTEC Certificate in Management Studies.

Pilot Selection Process

The selection process to attend the Army Pilots Course is exactly the same for both Officers and Soldiers and divided into two distinct phases:

Phase 1: Flying Aptitude Testing at RAFC Cranwell. Candidates complete a Medical Board to assess their fitness for aircrew duties. They will also undertake a series of tests confirming eye/hand/feet co-ordination and the ability to read instruments accurately. Successful candidates will be allocated a place on the Flying Grading course at the earliest convenient date.

Phase 2: Flying Grading. This is a three to four week practical assessment, held at Middle Wallop in Hampshire, which consists of 13 hours flying a fixed-wing aircraft with an Instructor. Successful candidates will subsequently be interviewed by the Pilot Selection Board at Headquarters Army Air Corps based at Middle Wallop. Civilians will progress to Officer training at the Royal Military Academy, Sandhurst (RMAS).

Applicants who fail Flying Grading may not reapply for pilot selection.

Professional Training

Officer Training

You must complete officer training at the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst (RMAS). The Commissioning Course at RMAS will teach you about being an Officer in the British Army and consists of a number of different elements. During the demanding 44-week course, you will be taught leadership in challenging situations, strategic analysis and battlefield discipline, the value of military doctrine, personnel administration/management and personal organisation. The course teaches you a wide range of skills that will develop your leadership ability and showing you how to apply it in a military context. At week 28 you will attend the Regimental Selection Board to compete for a commission into the AAC.

Flying Training

After completing Officer training you will complete the five phase Army Pilots Course, preceded by Ground School at RAFC Cranwell. The course comprises:

  • Elementary Flying Training
  • Basic Rotary Wing Training
  • Advanced Rotary Wing Training
  • Operational Training Phase and
  • Conversion to Type Training which are conducted in different locations throughout the UK.

Elementary Flying Training: This lasts for 13 weeks and is conducted at 674 Squadron AAC, RAF Barkston Heath. It consists of 45 hours flying in the Grob G120TO Prefect two seat training aircraft.

Basic Rotary Wing Training: This lasts for 13 weeks and is conducted at the Defence Helicopter Flying School (DHFS) on 660 Squadron AAC, RAF Shawbury. It comprises 35 hours flying in a Squirrel aircraft, covering instruction on basic helicopter handling and introduces cross country navigation.

Advanced Rotary Wing Training: This is also conducted at DHFS RAF Shawbury and lasts 11 weeks, providing a further 34 flying hours in the Squirrel aircraft. It introduces instrument, flying, night flying captaincy and low-level navigation.

Operational Training Phase: This course converts a trainee military pilot into an Army pilot by training the student to operate the aircraft within the Army tactical environment. It is conducted at the Army Aviation Centre, Middle Wallop, lasting 22 weeks comprising 91 flying hours and a tactical simulation course.

On successful completion of this phase students are awarded their Army pilots brevet (Wings) provisionally, which is confirmed on completion of a conversion to an operational Army helicopter type.

Conversion to Type Training: After provisionally gaining their wings, students will remain at Middle Wallop to convert to the type of aircraft they will fly once they reach their unit. The length of time at Middle Wallop varies according to the type of aircraft – as an example for Apache this is 26 weeks, consisting of 60 flying hours and 79 simulator hours. Pilots could fly the Apache, Gazelle, Bell 212, Squirrel, Defender and Wildcat during their flying career, depending upon AAC requirements.

Pay and conditions/Promotion

Army Pilot pay compares well with similar civilian jobs, you will be paid whilst you learn to fly and accrue a non-contributory pension as well.  The AAC offers a twelve year Short Service Commission to a number of Officer Cadets, post commissioning from the Royal Military Academy Sandhurst.  Upon entry you will earn a salary which will rise as your experience increases, up to £58,025 should you be promoted to the Rank of Major with the appropriate qualifying years of service experience.

A higher salary is attainable should you be promoted above the rank of Major. There is also an excellent non-contributory pension scheme, based around career average earnings.  The Army offers a wealth of healthcare support and services to soldiers and their dependents whether they are based in the UK or overseas, including mental healthcare for individuals, family healthcare, including GP services, hospital care, dental care, maternity services and vaccinations.

For further information, visit: http://www.army.mod.uk/careers

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