Aircrew Officer Pilot

Service:Fleet Air Arm
Combat and security
Hands on
Air Crew Officer Pilot

High demand role

This is a highly competitive role with a potential long lead time to join.

You may wish to consider joining the Royal Navy as a Warfare Officer or a Warfare Officer (Submariner).

Warfare Officer Warfare Officer (Submariner)

The role at a glance

What you’ll do

Can you think on your feet while you’re in mid-air? You’ll need to as Pilot in the Royal Navy. At all times, and wherever you are in the world, whether you’re flying in pitch black, or carrying out a daytime search and rescue operation. This is a role that’s all about aptitude at altitude, and it goes without saying it takes a special kind of person to do it. Whether you’re flying a Wildcat helicopter or being one of the first to fly the new F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, you’ll become a master of mission-focused flying. 

If you have questions, talk to us

Your role

  • Extend our reach on global missions, pushing our cutting-edge aircraft to the limit. 
  • Specialise in fixed wing or rotary aircraft flying after general flying training, and have all the support and flight time you need to become a world-class pilot.
  • Become a key part of our most essential missions, from delivering Royal Marines behind enemy lines in a Merlin Mk3 or Mk4, to providing lifesaving humanitarian aid in the Med. 
  • Pass rigorous tests to master the skill of mission-focused flying. 

What you’ll get

Skills for life

Qualifications you'll gain

  • Study for GCSEs, A-Levels, NVQs or even a degree, with funding from us
  • Gain a free foundation degree in Aviation Systems Management at 'wing', and BSc of the same name when on the Front Line

Skills you'll develop

  • How to fly state-of-the-art aviation machines on global missions
  • The ability to use your quick reaction times and work under pressure

Career progression

What you'll need


  • You must be aged 18 to 26
  • You’ll need a minimum of 72 UCAS points. These can be accrued from either GCE A/AS levels (or equivalent) or National Diplomas (e.g., BTEC)
  • You’ll need at least 5 GCSEs at grades A*-C (9-4) (or Scottish equivalent), which must include English and Mathematics
  • A British and/or Dual British/USA only who has lived in the UK continuously for the 5 years prior to applying
  • A minimum height of 151.5cm
  • A Body Mass Index (BMI) between 18 and 28 (between 17 and 27 if under 18)
  • Must pass CBAT. Specialist Aviation Medical at OASC, RAF Cranwell post AIB.
  • Pass the Naval Swimming Test

Skills and interests

  • Able to thrive on responsibility
  • Calm under pressure
  • A love of aviation and flying
  • Able to learn new skills quickly


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

  • 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

  • Interview 

    You’ll have a short interview to assess your suitability for a career in the Royal Navy, and to ensure you’re ready for the Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

  • Admiralty Interview Board (AIB)

    This stage is unique to officers and takes place in two parts. A Pre Recorded Interview (PRI) is an online assessment which assesses your motivation to join the Royal Navy as an officer and your awareness of the Royal Navy. The Group Planning Exercise (GPE) is the second stage of the AIB and is an online competency based assessment which will take place on a separate day to the PRI. It will be conducted in a virtual group environment and you will be assessed on your contribution to the team based on your individual performance

Initial training

Before you begin your initial training, you’ll need to take Flying Aptitude Tests (FATs) at RAF Cranwell in Lincolnshire. These assess your ability to cope with the rigours of flying training. You’ll then progress to Britannia Royal Naval College (BRNC) in Dartmouth, where you’ll spend 30 weeks, focusing on: military skills, maritime skills and initial fleet time.

The military skills phase includes learning leadership and teamwork skills, and the principles of command and management. You will put this into practice during several exercises on Dartmoor.

Aim to get yourself as fit as you can before you arrive. You’ll be doing a lot of physical exercise, and you’ll find it much easier if you’re already in good shape.

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

Professional training

After you’ve passed out of BRNC, you will spend a further 15 weeks learning about our aircraft. At the end of this stage, you’ll go through grading. This is a set of tests that determines your suitability for life as a pilot.

Once you’ve completed grading, you’ll begin your 30-week Elementary Flight Training at RAF Barkston Heath. After that, you’ll find out whether you will be flying jets (fixed wing) or helicopters (rotary wing). If fixed wing, you’ll go to RAF Linton-on-Ouse for 49 weeks, before a further two years of fast jet training. If rotary wing, you’ll spend 30 weeks at RAF Shawbury, before a further 12 months specialising in flying your chosen helicopter.