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Non-Commissioned Pilots in the RCAF Discussion

SupersonicMax

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Eye In The Sky said:
To produce more folks like Capt Paul Turpie, and Capt Mary Cameron-Kelly?

Both are amazing pilots, I've had them both for a Skipper at some point (MCK was my first deployment Skipper), professional officers and damn nice people.  Obviously, too, they are the exception, not the rule where they've managed to stay Junior Officers and continue to do what they love to do;  fly.

These mechanisms exist already.  It is easy to become a “Captain for life” and, if you are competent, keep flying.  Get yourself removed from the merit list or opt out of a PER.  I don’t think we need to create an entirely new rank structure, with less pay (don’t you think it would exacerbate the dis-satisfaction pilots have for compensation, increasing retention challenges?) something that can be managed within individual capabilities.

I really don!t understand.  I am advocating for equal pay and rank for people doing the same work but that’s somehow the unpopular view?
 

kev994

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SupersonicMax said:
I really don!t understand.  I am advocating for equal pay and rank for people doing the same work but that’s somehow the unpopular view?
I agree with you ;)
Besides, someone’s gotta keep all these Navs in check.
 

FJAG

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SupersonicMax said:
...
I really don!t understand.  I am advocating for equal pay and rank for people doing the same work but that’s somehow the unpopular view?

I've said this four times already: no one is saying that a flying warrant officer and a flying lieutenant (or WO2 and captain) should be paid any differently vis a vis flight pay. It's the career track that separates them. The WOs keep flying, the captains move on.

On top of that the idea that WOs get paid less than their officer counterparts in the US Army is simply false. In the US Army pay would be both basic pay and aviation incentive pay. This chart shows that at the WO1 to WO3 and O1 to O3 level starting basic pay is virtually identical and that at the 38 years of service point, the WO pay is actually higher than a "career captain's" would be. W4s and W5s start a bit lower but also end higher than their O4 and O5 counterparts. The end result is that a long service WO will do just as well, if not better than an O equivalent.

https://militarypay.defense.gov/Portals/3/Documents/ActiveDutyTables/2020%20Military%20Basic%20Pay%20Table.pdf

Aviation Incentive Pay in the US Army (flight pay, if you will) applies to everyone from the rank of WO1 to Col equally with one exception: for officers, aviation incentive pay is reduced after ten years service while for WOs it remains at the year 10 highpoint.

https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Aviation%20Incentive%20Pay%20and%20Aeromedical%20Waivers%20and%20Suspensions

So equal pay doesn't need to be the issue if we follow the US example which basically leaves you with the idea that every pilot needs the "status" of being an officer. Personally I think that's as much bull as every lawyer needing to be a major to be credible.

:cheers:
 

kev994

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FJAG said:
I've said this four times already: no one is saying that a flying warrant officer and a flying lieutenant (or WO2 and captain) should be paid any differently vis a vis flight pay. It's the career track that separates them. The WOs keep flying, the captains move on.

On top of that the idea that WOs get paid less than their officer counterparts in the US Army is simply false. In the US Army pay would be both basic pay and aviation incentive pay. This chart shows that at the WO1 to WO3 and O1 to O3 level starting basic pay is virtually identical and that at the 38 years of service point, the WO pay is actually higher than a "career captain's" would be. W4s and W5s start a bit lower but also end higher than their O4 and O5 counterparts. The end result is that a long service WO will do just as well, if not better than an O equivalent.

https://militarypay.defense.gov/Portals/3/Documents/ActiveDutyTables/2020%20Military%20Basic%20Pay%20Table.pdf

Aviation Incentive Pay in the US Army (flight pay, if you will) applies to everyone from the rank of WO1 to Col equally with one exception: for officers, aviation incentive pay is reduced after ten years service while for WOs it remains at the year 10 highpoint.

https://www.hrc.army.mil/content/Aviation%20Incentive%20Pay%20and%20Aeromedical%20Waivers%20and%20Suspensions

So equal pay doesn't need to be the issue if we follow the US example which basically leaves you with the idea that every pilot needs the "status" of being an officer. Personally I think that's as much bull as every lawyer needing to be a major to be credible.

:cheers:
I don’t see what you’re accomplishing. If it’s the degree we could just exempt pilots from having a degree and not have to make all these changes.
 

dimsum

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tomahawk6 said:
Pilot shortages might accelerate pilotless fighters.

Possibly, but that's definitely not going to be anytime soon.  I would guess that the next step in that direction is "Loyal Wingman" or RPAs accompanying manned aircraft, then maybe one person controlling multiple RPAs.  Completely pilotless fighters would be hard to justify at this time for legal reasons regarding weapons release, etc.
 

SupersonicMax

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FJAG said:
On top of that the idea that WOs get paid less than their officer counterparts in the US Army is simply false. In the US Army pay would be both basic pay and aviation incentive pay. This chart shows that at the WO1 to WO3 and O1 to O3 level starting basic pay is virtually identical and that at the 38 years of service point, the WO pay is actually higher than a "career captain's" would be. W4s and W5s start a bit lower but also end higher than their O4 and O5 counterparts. The end result is that a long service WO will do just as well, if not better than an O equivalent.

You assumed that W1 to W3 are equivalent to O1 to O3.  This is incorrect.  The Time in Service from W1 to W3 is at least 8 years.  The Time in Service from O1 to O3 is 4 years.  For a time in service of 4 years, a W2 will make $4,200 a month whereas the O3 will make $5,900 a month (and marginally more BAH). I excluded the Aviation incentive because it is the same for both. That is a gross difference of $20,400 a month, which is quite substantial.

For a new O4, promoted at the expected time (9 years of service), the equivalent would be a 2-year W3.  Salaries would be $7,000 (O4) and $5,100 (W3), excluding BAH and aviation incentives.  The gap is just getting bigger (And I used the shortest time to promotion for Warrant Officers - 6 years in grade).

Also, the Officer Aviation Incentive Pay does not get docked after 10 years.  It gets reduced after 22 years of service. Between 10 and 22 years of service, it remains at $1,000 a month. By that time, the officer pilot is a Colonel, making almost $36,000 more a year. A $300 a month difference ($3,600 a year) won't bridge that gap.

As far as the credibility piece goes, I agree that is should not be a factor, however, in reality, it is. I have observed it personally and I have lived it myself, being in positions (for extended periods of time) under-ranked on two occasions.  Interestingly enough, both times, when I was promoted, the same people that tended to ignore the advice I was providing started listening...  It is not the majority of people but still happened fairly regularly I would say (mostly with people that I never interacted before). Rank was never really a factor for people that knew me. 

Attached is a highlighted pay charts of the US Military for comparison.  The highlights is the expected promotion path (for officers) and the fastest promotion path (for Warrant Officers).

 

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tomahawk6

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Been gone for the weekend to sunny Arizona been unplugged and enjoyed the tack of the conversation. The US Army used to be acle to offer commissions to Warrants. During Vietnam it was a jump to Captain. After the war most were seperated via Reduction In Force because most lacked a college degree. I knew a Major who had lacked company command and was desperate he took a support company command.The odds were against him unless he went to the command and general staff college either in person or correspondence. He had been a chopper pilot but an aviation company command wasn't in the cards.The aftermath of war I guess.
 

FJAG

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This is going to be my absolutely last post on the subject.

You're leaving out the fact that most officers must spend the first four years of their post high school life as officer cadets going to university of some type before even reaching O-1 rank and pay while aviation candidates for can apply immediately after high school grade 12 after which they are sent on ten weeks BCT and  five weeks WOCS where, upon graduation they are appointed WO1s and sent for aviation training.

I stand corrected on the 10/22 year aviation incentive.

The point on a colonels pay is, however, my point and in fact it happens or should happen earlier because the whole point of "officer" development is to select and prepare the elite few for higher rank and the more complex management responsibilities for the force that come with senior rank.

Remember that in the RCAF you have: 1xLGen; 3xMGen; 6xBGen; and 36xCol senior leaders whose development is currently being fed by approximately 162xLCol; 671xMaj; 1,319xCapt; and 711xCapt/Lt. Leaving aside my facetious view that squadrons should be commanded by squadron commanders and not wing commanders and that 162 LCols is a bit generous for a fifty some odd squadron air force (which averages out to about 8 aircraft per squadron), we are nonetheless left with a very large base of folks to develop into the 46 above squadron level leaders. The "management" development branch of the RCAF officer corps could be significantly reduced and still ensure a quality end product. Convert 500 to 600 or so of those 2,700 lieutenants, captains and majors to various categories of WOs who would remain with the squadrons as highly skilled pilots (especially aviation) while the officers could move in and out of squadrons for career course, staff positions etc etc. The end result is that you would have a greater number of individuals who would go from high school to trained pilot in a shorter time frame and you would have more pilots actually flying aircraft on a day to day basis. A flying WO program opens up the pipeline to both generating and employing more people in flight positions. That and only that is my reason for suggesting that the WO program would be a benefit for the RCAF.

:cheers:
 

SupersonicMax

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FJAG said:
This is going to be my absolutely last post on the subject.

That is too bad, I enjoy reading your point of view!

FJAG said:
You're leaving out the fact that most officers must spend the first four years of their post high school life as officer cadets going to university of some type before even reaching O-1 rank and pay while aviation candidates for can apply immediately after high school grade 12 after which they are sent on ten weeks BCT and  five weeks WOCS where, upon graduation they are appointed WO1s and sent for aviation training.

I am not trying to compare earnings at a the same point in two different people's lives (there are too many variables, namely at what age a candidate joined) but rather, compare earnings to a specific skills levels.  The one assumption I made is that a WO with the a given number of years of service has the same skill-level as an Officer with the same number of years of service.  Some may see this as far-fetched (given that O-4s/O-5s typically spend one flying tour followed by a staff tour although that may happen within the CAG staff, still flying)  In any case, the WO's would win on the skill-level if we "reduce" the officers' skills-level compared to a WO of same time of service. This would exacerbate the pay differential.  Some will say that Officers have more "command-related" duties with more responsibilities however I would argue that many of the flying supervisory functions are be performed by the technical experts, the WO cadre. These functions are equally important to your force generation and force employment as your command functions: they ensure the unit maintains tactical credibility by making sure the aircrew cadre can operate effectively and, more importantly, safetly.

I am still favoring a single rank structure with expanded pay-incentives where a Pilot Captain PI 20 could make more than a Pilot Major PI 1 for example. I may put pen to paper and work a hypothetical pay scale that I think could work to incentivize tactical expertise AND promotion (effectively having two tracks: command and technical).

Cheers,
 

Eye In The Sky

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SupersonicMax said:
That is too bad, I enjoy reading your point of view!

I am not trying to compare earnings at a the same point in two different people's lives (there are too many variables, namely at what age a candidate joined) but rather, compare earnings to a specific skills levels.  The one assumption I made is that a WO with the a given number of years of service has the same skill-level as an Officer with the same number of years of service.  Some may see this as far-fetched (given that O-4s/O-5s typically spend one flying tour followed by a staff tour although that may happen within the CAG staff, still flying)  In any case, the WO's would win on the skill-level if we "reduce" the officers' skills-level compared to a WO of same time of service. This would exacerbate the pay differential.  Some will say that Officers have more "command-related" duties with more responsibilities however I would argue that many of the flying supervisory functions are be performed by the technical experts, the WO cadre. These functions are equally important to your force generation and force employment as your command functions: they ensure the unit maintains tactical credibility by making sure the aircrew cadre can operate effectively and, more importantly, safetly.

I am still favoring a single rank structure with expanded pay-incentives where a Pilot Captain PI 20 could make more than a Pilot Major PI 1 for example. I may put pen to paper and work a hypothetical pay scale that I think could work to incentivize tactical expertise AND promotion (effectively having two tracks: command and technical).

Cheers,

I'd buy that and expand it to include all aircrew trades, Officer and NCM.  I've always been a fan of the RAF Professional Aviator Spine concept.
 

PuckChaser

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kev994 said:
I don’t see what you’re accomplishing. If it’s the degree we could just exempt pilots from having a degree and not have to make all these changes.

You kind of have a point. I'm a fan of NCO Pilots as an idea, but I struggle with what problem that would solve.

Is the problem University ROTP takes too long where we could have someone flying a few years sooner, and longer? This is where NCO Pilots makes the most sense.
If its lack of pilots (which we have tons of applicants) than the issue is with the flight training pipeline not with the degree requirement.
Is it an issue with every CAF Officer is just a CDS in waiting and we are taking butts out of ejection seats for staff jobs? Then it seems like then the RCAF needs to make a linkage between Air Operations Officer and Pilot, where a Pilot that wants to progress and command Sqns/Wings requests to transfer to Air Operations at that point, with the default being Pilots will move slower and bottleneck at LCol unless they pick command, then they sacrifice flight time for career progression.

I'd argue pay would be an easy fix if the COA was to create NCO Pilots, as we'd be making foundational changes to the rank structure of the CAF anyways.
 

dimsum

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PuckChaser said:
Is it an issue with every CAF Officer is just a CDS in waiting and we are taking butts out of ejection seats for staff jobs? Then it seems like then the RCAF needs to make a linkage between Air Operations Officer and Pilot, where a Pilot that wants to progress and command Sqns/Wings requests to transfer to Air Operations at that point, with the default being Pilots will move slower and bottleneck at LCol unless they pick command, then they sacrifice flight time for career progression.

That's a good point and partially because we (as in you, I, and probably most people on this forum) don't know what the Air Ops Officer will be like and the scope of their duties. 

I have heard rumblings that the Aussies are doing just that - they are effectively de-linking staff and command positions from specific trades, as long as they are Air Operations (Pilot, ACSO, AEC, and Air Ops Officer equivalents).  This hasn't been implemented yet, but technically (pun intended) speaking, a fighter squadron could be commanded by an Air Operations Officer LCol, or a Maritime Helicopter squadron be commanded by an ATC LCol. 

I thought it sounded ridiculous, until I remembered that COs aren't really supposed to be "pointy-end stuff" anyway.  That's what the Flight Commanders and line crew are for.  Leadership isn't trade-specific. 
 

SeaKingTacco

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Dimsum said:
That's a good point and partially because we (as in you, I, and probably most people on this forum) don't know what the Air Ops Officer will be like and the scope of their duties. 

I have heard rumblings that the Aussies are doing just that - they are effectively de-linking staff and command positions from specific trades, as long as they are Air Operations (Pilot, ACSO, AEC, and Air Ops Officer equivalents).  This hasn't been implemented yet, but technically (pun intended) speaking, a fighter squadron could be commanded by an Air Operations Officer LCol, or a Maritime Helicopter squadron be commanded by an ATC LCol. 

I thought it sounded ridiculous, until I remembered that COs aren't really supposed to be "pointy-end stuff" anyway.  That's what the Flight Commanders and line crew are for.  Leadership isn't trade-specific.

This is a seriously bad idea.

We already have a problem with Sqn CWOs who have no idea what/how things should work on the shop floor. We have AM Supervisors that have no backgrounds in the fleets that they have been posted, so for the most part, they never venture very far from their offices, cannot provide much in the way of guidance when novel problems emerge and leave the day to day maintenance largely unsupervised.

Now we want to extend this to Sqn COs? How is a non-aviator supposed to effectively know what is happening on the flight line and in the aircraft if they do not fly? How will they, with any sense of authority or knowledge, approve a flying program? How can they truly assess risk, if they themselves have never been in the seat? How do they know if tactics and doctrine are appropriate or need changing? The knowledge levels in the aircraft are not awesome to begin with and we want to dilute supervision even more?

There is already, IMHO, too much “generic anybodies can manage anything” attitude in the RCAF. If you want CO’s to have credibility and not make a mockery of that position, too, we need to reinforce the role of CO’s. Not dilute it further.
 

dimsum

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SeaKingTacco said:
This is a seriously bad idea.

We already have a problem with Sqn CWOs who have no idea what/how things should work on the shop floor. We have AM Supervisors that have no backgrounds in the fleets that they have been posted, so for the most part, they never venture very far from their offices, cannot provide much in the way of guidance when novel problems emerge and leave the day to day maintenance largely unsupervised.

Now we want to extend this to Sqn COs? How is a non-aviator supposed to effectively know what is happening on the flight line and in the aircraft if they do not fly? How will they, with any sense of authority or knowledge, approve a flying program? How can they truly assess risk, if they themselves have never been in the seat? How do they know if tactics and doctrine are appropriate or need changing? The knowledge levels in the aircraft are not awesome to begin with and we want to dilute supervision even more?

There is already, IMHO, too much %u201Cgeneric anybodies can manage anything%u201D attitude in the RCAF. If you want CO%u2019s to have credibility and not make a mockery of that position, too, we need to reinforce the role of CO%u2019s. Not dilute it further.

Fair enough.  I had quickly run it through my head when I read it and didn't really sit down and digest it.  I'm not sure how they would deal with flight auth, MALA, etc. 

Anyways, back to the original discussion...
 

SupersonicMax

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Here's how I would structure the pilot pay in the CAF (attached file).  In order to understand why pilots think their compensation is deficient vis-a-vis the civilian sector, we need to look at their salaries.  The salaries I included, for Air Canada pilots, are the minimum guaranteed (pilots are guaranteed to be paid for 75 hours a month, they get a 50% bonification of their hourly wage past 85 hours and training pilots (aircraft captains with experience) get a 12% bonus on their pay. Those numbers do not reflect any flying above and beyond the minimum 75 hours a month.  Another thing to note is that their payscales are different for each aircraft however the biggest factor is the size of the aircraft.  Widebody pilots make more than narrowbody pilots.  It is important to note that pilots are not expected to do anything else than flying really (flight planning is taken care of by dispatchers).  They are paid from the time they release the parking brake at origin to the time they set it at destination.  Pay rates are determined by the aircraft type, the position a pilot holds (first officer or aircraft captain) and their number of years within the company (not the number of years in a position).

Currently, there is very little financial incentive to stay past the restricted release period (10 years post-wings, approximately 8 years after OFP).  The pay jump at that incentive level is less than $100 a month.  The Capt pay tops up $100 on top of PI8.  We need to incentivize people staying by providing a substantial pay increase at that level. Furthermore, we need to close the gap between military pay and civilian pay (at the 20-year post OFP mark - for all ranks) to match what a person would make if they left after their restricted release period.  If someone left the CAF at the 8-year post OFP mark and became a Narrow Body Captain within normal timelines, they would be making ~15,500/month at the 20-year post OFP mark, ~14,000/month as a Wide Body First Officer and ~22,000/month as a Wide Body Aircraft Captain.  The most likely scenario for someone would be someone becoming a Aircraft Captain on a Narrow Body (it takes longer for Widebody).  Given that the provided pay scales do not include overtime, I put the number at $16,000 for a Captain with 20 years of experience in rank.  The other aspect is incentivizing promotions. There needs to be a significant increase in salary when going from Captain to Major, and from Major to Lieutenant-Colonel.  Furthermore, while an individual is in the promotion window, the increases in pay need to flatten out.

What can be deduct from my proposed payscales:

1- Someone that leaves at the end of the restricted release period would cost slightly less than they do now;
2- The incremental cost over a 25-year period would be between $817K (Captain for life scenario) to $1.4M (Someone that promotes really fast). Note that the cost of training a new pilot is between $1.5M and $2.5M - it is cheaper to pay our pilots more to keep them than to replace them (of course, this is assuming that paying them more will keep them, but release interviews have shown that salaries of that level would have kept many in).
3- Over a 25-year period, a RCAF pilot would make a comparable salary than if they left the military after their restricted release and became Narrow Body Aircraft Captain, the most likely scenario.

*ducking for spears*

 

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dapaterson

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Except the majority of commercial pilots in Canada are not flying Air Canada - they're Jazz or Porter or WestJet Encore or Link, or one of the short haul small northern airlines.  And grossing well south of $100K.

Benchmark against all peers, not merely the highest paid... and include things like paid flight training (Air Canada won't hire you off the street without hundreds of hours), other compensation elements (retire at age 42 with a 50% pension) and the CAF pay solution.

Frankly, when a current Capt 10 makes more than the entire cockpit of a Porter Q400, it's pretty clear that money alone will not solve CAF pilot problems.
 

SupersonicMax

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dapaterson said:
Except the majority of commercial pilots in Canada are not flying Air Canada - they're Jazz or Porter or WestJet Encore or Link, or one of the short haul small northern airlines.  And grossing well south of $100K.

Most RCAF pilots that go to the airlines either go to Air Canada or Westjet (mainline). 

dapaterson said:
Benchmark against all peers, not merely the highest paid... and include things like paid flight training (Air Canada won't hire you off the street without hundreds of hours), other compensation elements (retire at age 42 with a 50% pension) and the CAF pay solution.

Pension is clearly not working at keeping people.  After 11 to 16 years of service, the extra 9 to 14 years is too much for many.

That is why I started the comparison at the OFP level.  It is irrelevant that the CAF is paying for your training in how someone looks at their options. After 8 years post OFP, a pilot should have well North of the minimum required for Air Canada (1,000 hours) and Westjet (1,500 hours).  The RCAF experience has a positive influence in hiring decisions within the major airlines.

dapaterson said:
Frankly, when a current Capt 10 makes more than the entire cockpit of a Porter Q400, it's pretty clear that money alone will not solve CAF pilot problems.

Except that it is not the jobs people are after.
 

Eye In The Sky

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PuckChaser said:
I'd argue pay would be an easy fix if the COA was to create NCO Pilots, as we'd be making foundational changes to the rank structure of the CAF anyways.

Keep the same ranks;  adapt the NCM pay (either via implementing Spec 3 and 4 groups), or have a separate table for NCO/WO Pilots like the Commissioned pay tables.  :2c:
 

Mick

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For reference:

(I assume these to be pre-covid numbers)

Air Canada: Fleet 166 / 4500+ pilots
WestJet: Fleet 125 / 1500+ pilots

Jazz: Fleet 108 / 1500+ pilots
Encore: Fleet 47 / 500+ pilots
Porter: Fleet 29 / ~300 pilots

Of the former RCAF pilots that I know, the vast majority have been hired directly into AC, AC Rouge, and WJ mainline.

Airlines like Porter were encouraging applicants with as low as 200 hours to apply - again, pre-covid.

Pay is not stellar for the first few years at a major airline, but improves at year 5.
 

Halifax Tar

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I have a close friend who is private pilot for a local Mr. Moneybags.  He seems to make good money. 
 
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