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Graduate Job Aircrew Officer (Pilot and Observer)

Vacancy Type: Graduate Job
Employer: The Royal Navy
Reference: rnao
Salary: Starting salary from £15,000 to £22,000 (depending on experience).  

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EXPIRY NOTICE: This job has now expired and will not be accepting any more applications.


Job Description

As the Pilot or Observer of a Royal Navy aircraft, you will be right in the front line of operations, making vital tactical and operational decisions under pressure. Your role will be to get the Royal Navy's power in the air to the right place quickly and effectively, whether flying a fast jet armed with air-to-ground or air-to-air weapons, or transporting a troop of Royal Marines Commandos and their equipment by helicopter. The challenges of flying with the Royal Navy will meet your expectations - no matter how ambitious you are.


Basic training

You spend up to a year at Britannia Royal Naval College in Dartmouth, Devon. The training is extremely challenging but rewarding. From the moment you arrive, you will be part of a team as you learn naval and leadership skills, take part in exercises and have your first sea-going experience

We strongly recommend that you start to build on your fitness levels before you arrive for training - you will feel more confident and enjoy the training much more.

Professional training

Your basic training gives you the 'toolkit' for being a Royal Navy Officer. Professional training makes you an Aircrew Officer (see below). With all your training successfully completed, you are awarded your 'wings' and join your front-line squadron as an operational Pilot or Observer.

Job Basic training Professional training
Fast jet pilot 10 months Basic flying training 6 months Fixed-wing flying 9 months Fast jet training 9 months Air combat training 9 months Front-line squadron
Helicopter pilot 10 months Basic flying training 6 months Basic helicopter training 6 months Advanced/ operational up to 11 months   Front-line squadron
Observer 10 months Basic navigation training 7 months Advanced/ operational up to 11 months     Front-line squadron

Who Suits This?

You must be able to prioritise your workload, and always be willing to be flexible and adapt to new circumstances at short notice. You need to be completely reliable and able to perform at your very best at any time of day or night. You need to be able to think in three dimensions. As a Lynx or Merlin Observer, you should add the ability to visualise what is happening where you cannot see - under water. You also need leadership qualities and skills to deal with the management work your missions and aircraft demand, and the personnel responsibilities that are part of being an Officer in the Royal Navy.

Routes into the Royal Navy

If you are at school or a school leaver, you can apply for Naval College Entry and go straight to Britannia Royal Naval College to begin your officer training.

If you are a graduate, you can apply for Direct Graduate Entry.

Your future

Royal Navy Pilot training is accredited with the Civilian Aircraft Authority (CAA), so with the right experience and exam passes, you will be able to gain a commercial pilot's licence. Pilot and Observer training for those who join the Fleet Air Arm without a degree is credited towards an Open University degree and funding is available to help pay for this. You can add units for an honours degree after training.

All the skills and qualifications you can gain are recognised and valued by businesses outside the Royal Navy, and you will find they open up a wide range of opportunities for you if you decide to leave.

Whats Involved?


As a Pilot in the Fleet Air Arm, you will fly either fast jets or helicopters. As an Observer, you will always command or be second-in-command of a helicopter crew.

  • As a fast jet Pilot, you will be involved in:
    • ground attack
    • air reconnaissance
    • operating from aircraft carriers
    • projecting fire-power ashore in support of joint operations.
  • As a helicopter Pilot, your advanced flying skills in the Merlin, Lynx or Sea King aircraft, include:
    • landing on a moving ship's deck in heavy seas
    • airlifting casualties from the sea
    • detecting submarines and ship threats
    • low-level reconnaissance to check that the roads are safe for vehicles.
  • As a Observer in a Royal Navy Lynx, Sea King or Merlin, your role is to:
    • 'fight the aircraft', which means identifying threats or targets and directing the use of the weapons systems
    • make the navigational and tactical decisions that get the aircraft to the right place at the right time to achieve your mission
    • decide how best to deploy and use your aircraft's sensors and weapon systems to detect and prosecute your target
    • for those who operate the Sea King surveillance aircraft, detect threats to your forces and direct other units to neutralise them.


Whats the benefit?
  • Starting salary from £15,000 to £22,000 (depending on experience). Pay increases with experience and in line with inflation.
  • Free medical and dental treatment.
  • Job security.
  • Accommodation at sea or on operations is free, and accommodation on shore is heavily subsidised.
  • One of the most generous pensions available.


Location: Any Location

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