Naval Airman Aircraft Handler

Service:Fleet Air Arm
Airman directing an aircraft

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

As a Naval Airman (Aircraft Handler), you’re responsible for safety whenever there’s aircraft on the deck or the ground. That means working with flight crews at Royal Naval Air Stations (RNAS), on our state-of-the-art warships, or even the new Queen Elizabeth Aircraft Carrier. It’s a physical job where you’ll work outside in all conditions, but by making sure that our jets and helicopters are in the right place at the right time, you’ll be playing a key role in providing Royal Navy’s airborne capability.

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Your job is to ensure aircraft are in the right place at right time, so they are ready and prepared for all flying operations.
  • Onboard Queen Elizabeth class aircraft carriers, you’ll be an integral part of a dynamic Flight Deck team. Working with all military aircraft capable of operating from the sea, these include the Lightning II F-35B 5th generation fighter jet.
  • During training you will become a competent firefighter, with all the necessary skills to fight fuel, hangar and aircraft fires, both ashore and afloat. Putting you in positions where your actions can save lives.
  • Whatever the weather, you will need to be at the top of your game to ensure the safety of the crew and your teammates around you.

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • On completion of professional training you will start and complete an apprenticeship in Aviation Ground Operative Level 2
  • Study for Functional Skills in Maths, English and ICT
  • Gain GCSEs, A-Levels, NVQs or a degree
  • Gain specialist vocational qualifications as your career progresses including an apprenticeship 12 months after completion of training

Skills you'll develop

  • You will learn how to combat fuel, hangar and aircraft fires
  • You will develop your confidence and communication skills, using these to keep others safe
  • Handle 5th Generation Aircraft onboard the QE class Carriers
  • Direct multiple aircraft for launch and recovery
  • Become an essential part of a cohesive team

What you'll need


  • You need to be aged between 16 - 39
  • No qualifications are required for this role
  • A National of the United Kingdom, a Commonwealth citizen or Dual National
  • A minimum height of 151.5cm
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • A passion for working with state-of-the-art aircraft
  • Coordination and organisation
  • A high level of spatial awareness
  • Keen attention to detail
  • Willingness to learn new skills
Check Eligibility

Starting your career

Joining process

Once you’ve confirmed your eligibility, the joining process is as follows:

  • Submit an application

    Once you’ve registered your interest, we’ll be in touch to discuss your options

  • Defence Aptitude Assessment (DAA)

    You’ll be tested on: Verbal Reasoning, Numerical Reasoning, Work Rate, Spatial Reasoning, Electrical Comprehension and Mechanical Comprehension.
    To prepare, you can practise the DAA

  • Interview

    A formal interview to talk through your suitability for the role. This is normally conducted using your own device over the Shine video platform

  • Medical and eye tests

    These are quite comprehensive and must be completed by one of our Ministry of Defence-approved doctors

  • Pre-Joining Fitness Test (PJFT)

    This involves completing a 2.4km run on a treadmill within a certain time, at a fitness centre near you

  • Candidate Preparation Course (CPC)

    This four-day induction to life in the Royal Navy, including a Swimming Test and a fitness assessment, is a pass or fail course

  • Start training

    Once you’ve passed a Security Check, you’ll be offered a place at HMS Raleigh

Initial training

Your Royal Navy career begins with 10 weeks’ basic training at HMS Raleigh, a shore base in Torpoint, Cornwall. The discipline, teamwork, organisational, firefighting and weapon handling skills you learn here will stay with you right through your career.

Aim to get yourself as fit as possible before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in shape. There’s also a swimming test, so if you can’t swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

There's also a swimming test, so if you can't swim, make sure you learn by the time you join us.

Professional training

You’ll spend six months at the Royal Naval Air Station (RNAS) Culdrose in Cornwall, working in an aircraft hangar or a flight deck team. You’ll learn to use the lifts, mechanical handlers and chocks and lashings used on board ship. You’ll also learn to fight fuel, hangar and aircraft fires. When you’ve finished you’ll be posted to your first operational squadron.