• Thanks for stopping by. Logging in to a registered account will remove all generic ads. Please reach out with any questions or concerns.

Non-Commissioned Pilots in the RCAF Discussion

SeaKingTacco

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
4,606
Points
1,010
I have seen Maritime Helicopter Pilots hired away by the mainline airlines, despite having very little fixed wing time in their logbook.

Apparently, that twin turbine time is valuable on civvy street.
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
Sometimes it just depends on how the company’s insurance policy is written.
 

SupersonicMax

Army.ca Veteran
Mentor
Reaction score
1,309
Points
1,110
The minima for pilots differ from company to company.

Here's what you need at AC (Flying time/Licensing):
  • 2000 hours of fixed wing flying time
  • Canadian Airline Transport Pilot Licence (ATPL), current Group 1 (Multi-engine) Instrument Rating
Here's what you need at Westjet (as a FO):
  • 1500 hours total time
  • 250 hours fixed-wing pilot-in-command time
  • Transport Canada Airline Transport Pilot’s license (ATPL), current Group 1 (Multi-engine) Instrument Rating
Here's what you need at Westjet Encore (as a FO):
  • 1000 hours total time
  • 150 hours fixed wing pilot-in-command time
  • Transport Canada Commercial Pilot’s license (CPL), current Group 1 (Multi-engine) Instrument Rating
So, someone who has flown helicopters for their entire career would not meet the minimum requirements for Air Canada.

There are minimum flying time requirements for each license. For example, to get a CPL, you need 200 hours in an aeroplane with a minimum of 100 hours of Pilot In Command time, and 20 hours of cross-country time. Commercial Pilot License - Helicopter holder may credit 100 of the 200 hours required in an aeroplane provided they completed the required 65 hours of dual instruction (which should be done on Phase IIA).

The ATPL requirements are a little more complex but you can find them here.
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
Morningstar (They have the FedEx contract in Canada) uses Total Time, but you’d still need a fixed wing commercial license with the requirements that Max pointed out. But a Caravan pilot doesn’t get paid very well and I can’t imagine anyone with minimal fixed wing hours being competitive on one of their bigger machines.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
4,734
Points
1,040
I think that's important to state, FJAG. If we're talking about NCM pilots for the CAF are we talking about all airframes, or certain airframes? Does that mean we move TACHEL to CA and Martime Hel to RCN as there's less requirement for that shiny Big Red contracts?
I've stopped following how flight training works in Canada so am far from an expert in this field but when we first started this portion of the thread, I took my position from the viewpoint that:

  1. we have far more commissioned officers in the Air Force than are needed to fill the above-squadron leadership needs of the force and therefore could do with less officers;
  2. the skill for flying aircraft is not related to rank and can be taught to anyone with the requisite skills;
  3. helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are different beasts requiring different flying skills and should (if not already) be taught in separate streams from day one of the course if for no other reason than efficiency;
  4. these days being an officer requires a university degree. Flying aircraft does not. We can streamline the recruiting and "time into cockpit" cycle if we have a separate flying warrant officer stream but we do need a separate career path that can move a flight student directly to a warrant officer rank after completing training (either our current NCM structure or a revised one like in the US);
  5. a move to such a system ought to dramatically speed up the production of new pilots to replace attrition;
  6. with a significant number of WO pilots, we can keep people more within the cockpit and in squadrons and not cycling through unnecessary leadership development courses, staff positions etc;
  7. I'm pay neutral on this. If we think we need to pay pilots significantly more, than we can do it through specialist allowances. There is no need to make pay rank dependent.
For me the proof in the pudding is that the system works successfully for the US Army Aviation. I'll hold back my opinion as to whether or not it also works with fast air or multi-engine in hard Air Force and Navy squadrons. although at first blush I see no reason why it couldn't so that some positions in the squadron are commissioned and others are not. (I note for example that the US Coast Guard aviators are commissioned, but do not need a degree to join - having achieved appropriate marks on five key College Level Examination Program tests is sufficient.)

For me the key factor is that IMHO the commissioned officer system is designed to provide a) leadership and b) a development system for senior management. Only some pilots need to be leaders and even fewer need to be senior managers. A separate stream that puts a large number of folks into the cockpit quickly and keeps them working full-time in the squadrons regardless of air frame and regardless how long their career is seems to me a positive thing.


🍻
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
I've stopped following how flight training works in Canada so am far from an expert in this field but when we first started this portion of the thread, I took my position from the viewpoint that:

  1. we have far more commissioned officers in the Air Force than are needed to fill the above-squadron leadership needs of the force and therefore could do with less officers;
  2. the skill for flying aircraft is not related to rank and can be taught to anyone with the requisite skills;
  3. helicopters and fixed wing aircraft are different beasts requiring different flying skills and should (if not already) be taught in separate streams from day one of the course if for no other reason than efficiency;
  4. these days being an officer requires a university degree. Flying aircraft does not. We can streamline the recruiting and "time into cockpit" cycle if we have a separate flying warrant officer stream but we do need a separate career path that can move a flight student directly to a warrant officer rank after completing training (either our current NCM structure or a revised one like in the US);
  5. a move to such a system ought to dramatically speed up the production of new pilots to replace attrition;
  6. with a significant number of WO pilots, we can keep people more within the cockpit and in squadrons and not cycling through unnecessary leadership development courses, staff positions etc;
  7. I'm pay neutral on this. If we think we need to pay pilots significantly more, than we can do it through specialist allowances. There is no need to make pay rank dependent.
For me the proof in the pudding is that the system works successfully for the US Army Aviation. I'll hold back my opinion as to whether or not it also works with fast air or multi-engine in hard Air Force and Navy squadrons. although at first blush I see no reason why it couldn't so that some positions in the squadron are commissioned and others are not. (I note for example that the US Coast Guard aviators are commissioned, but do not need a degree to join - having achieved appropriate marks on five key College Level Examination Program tests is sufficient.)

For me the key factor is that IMHO the commissioned officer system is designed to provide a) leadership and b) a development system for senior management. Only some pilots need to be leaders and even fewer need to be senior managers. A separate stream that puts a large number of folks into the cockpit quickly and keeps them working full-time in the squadrons regardless of air frame and regardless how long their career is seems to me a positive thing.


🍻
We have hundreds of BTL pilots waiting for various courses, I don’t see how changing their rank is going to dramatically increase production.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
4,734
Points
1,040
We have hundreds of BTL pilots waiting for various courses, I don’t see how changing their rank is going to dramatically increase production.
How many of those are in RMC etc?

If I have things right, RMC is still four years and for an aviation pilot you need the following additional training:
  1. BOTC - roughly 3 months;
  2. Second Language training - roughly up to 7 months;
  3. Primary flight training - Portage - roughly 3 months;
  4. Basic flight training - Moose Jaw - roughly 8 months; and
  5. Advanced flight rotary - Portage - roughly 4 months
Assuming some of that is done during the summer months while at university (maybe 8-9 months in total) that still means at least another 16 months of training after graduation to get wings status - so roughly 5.3 years in service on BTL from commencement to wings.

If we take a WO candidate you skip the university and language training and end up with:
  1. a BOTC equivalent - roughly 3 months (some of which could be skipped for serving NCMs); and
  2. flight training - roughly 15 months.
That has your candidate in the BTL stream for only 1.5 years from commencement to wings.

(As an aside the US Army "High school to flight school" candidate will do:
  1. Basic combat training - 9 weeks;
  2. Warrant Officer Candidate School - 6 weeks;
  3. Initial Entry Rotary Wing - 7.5 months; and
  4. Advanced Graduate Flight Training - 3-6 months depending on specialty
Basically 15-18 months from commencement to wings)

It reduces the size of the BTL to probably roughly 1/2 of what it is now (assuming that you still need to put some candidates through the full commissioning stream) and gives you the ability to ramp up speedy production when needed.

🍻
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
Excluding those at RMC. My unit has ~ a dozen 2Lts waiting for BFT, Multi/Helo School, plus ~8 Lt/Capt waiting for their Herc course with 5 or 6 more on their way that we know about. There are pilot 2Lts at the Wing OR pushing paper, they’re everywhere. Sure, you’d save 4 years of RMC but it’s still not going to increase the number that we can put through Moose Jaw, Portage, or any of the OTUs, not to mention that they’re still training for 2-3 more years after they show up at the unit post-OTU. So it doesn’t increase production, it just makes them younger.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
4,734
Points
1,040
Excluding those at RMC. My unit has ~ a dozen 2Lts waiting for BFT, Multi/Helo School, plus ~8 Lt/Capt waiting for their Herc course with 5 or 6 more on their way that we know about. There are pilot 2Lts at the Wing OR pushing paper, they’re everywhere. Sure, you’d save 4 years of RMC but it’s still not going to increase the number that we can put through Moose Jaw, Portage, or any of the OTUs, not to mention that they’re still training for 2-3 more years after they show up at the unit post-OTU. So it doesn’t increase production, it just makes them younger.
Maybe with the money we save on the BTL and professors at RMc etc (not to mention 2nd Lts pushing paper) we could afford to hire a few more pilot instructors and buy a few more gallons of kerosene to increase the throughput.

🙂
 

MilEME09

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
3,749
Points
1,090
Excluding those at RMC. My unit has ~ a dozen 2Lts waiting for BFT, Multi/Helo School, plus ~8 Lt/Capt waiting for their Herc course with 5 or 6 more on their way that we know about. There are pilot 2Lts at the Wing OR pushing paper, they’re everywhere. Sure, you’d save 4 years of RMC but it’s still not going to increase the number that we can put through Moose Jaw, Portage, or any of the OTUs, not to mention that they’re still training for 2-3 more years after they show up at the unit post-OTU. So it doesn’t increase production, it just makes them younger.
Outside observation, given the training problem isn't unique to just pilots, perhaps we have to look more at the long term not the short term. Long term could we create a larger pilot instructor Cadre by having pilot NCOs? Would be an interesting topic of study.
 

Zoomie

Army.ca Veteran
Mentor
Reaction score
177
Points
680
Is the training backlog due to insufficient # of QFI’s, # of aircraft avail to fly each wave, training airspace, fuel (YFR), etc etc?

We are a different airforce from the 60s and 70s, where there were training bases all over the prairies, hundreds of airplanes to train on, uncontested airspace to train within. We are much more lean, reliant on expensive simulation devices and have a finite budget to work within.

Making NCO pilots won’t boost numbers or magically produce pilots, pumping another billion dollars into 2CAD would make a difference.
 

MilEME09

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
3,749
Points
1,090
Is the training backlog due to insufficient # of QFI’s, # of aircraft avail to fly each wave, training airspace, fuel (YFR), etc etc?

Making NCO pilots won’t boost numbers or magically produce pilots, pumping another billion dollars into 2CAD would make a difference.
If its budgetary (fuel for example) that's one issue, if its AC or trainers then I think we need to look long term for a solution in order to achieve long term gain. I have said it a few times for the army side of things to temporarily rob units of instructors to push more people through the schools. Perhaps we need to do the same for the RCAF, pull two pilots from each squadron back to the flying schools, add contractors as needed, after about 2 years we would hopefully start clearing backlog.
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
If its budgetary (fuel for example) that's one issue, if its AC or trainers then I think we need to look long term for a solution in order to achieve long term gain. I have said it a few times for the army side of things to temporarily rob units of instructors to push more people through the schools. Perhaps we need to do the same for the RCAF, pull two pilots from each squadron back to the flying schools, add contractors as needed, after about 2 years we would hopefully start clearing backlog.
We did that several times over. It just moves the problem around. At one point at the unit we had 14 First Officers and 3 instructors. It was a struggle to keep them all current let alone teach them to be Aircraft Commanders.
 

SeaKingTacco

Army.ca Fixture
Donor
Reaction score
4,606
Points
1,010
The problem for aircrew (not just pilots, but also ACSO and AESOp production) is not at the winged grad level. We have an ample supply of on OJT folks in all three aircrew occupations waiting for the Cyclone OTU. That is where the bottleneck exists. There are just not sufficient quantities of trained and experienced aircrew to simultaneously carry out operations at sea and have a sufficiently large enough instructor cadre (we need both simultaneously. If you shutdown sea going deployments to feed the school house, in a year or so your pool of future instructors will have dried up, because no one will have gained the operational experience and development they need to be an instructor) to beat down the backlog. This is what as known as a wicked problem- there are no magic solutions besides time and patience (Well, maybe culling the number of staff jobs that have to be filled would help some. And better aircraft serviceability). Interestingly, the MH fleet is not really short of pilots relative to the other aircrew. Our problems lie more at the ACSO and AESOp level. My sense is that introducing a WO pilot stream would not help 12 Wing.
 

dimsum

Army.ca Legend
Mentor
Reaction score
4,087
Points
1,260
This is what as known as a wicked problem- there are no magic solutions besides time and patience (Well, maybe culling the number of staff jobs that have to be filled would help some. And better aircraft serviceability). Interestingly, the MH fleet is not really short of pilots relative to the other aircrew. Our problems lie more at the ACSO and AESOp level. My sense is that introducing a WO pilot stream would not help 12 Wing.
Agreed. The best way is to remove the staff jobs, which hopefully the Air Ops Officer trade will help. There will probably always be a need for aircrew staff jobs as SMEs, etc but do they need to be filling Wing Ops and Sqn Ops positions?

I also agree that everyone looks at Pilot retention (with the obvious job transfer dilemma) but ACSO/AES Op retention is a problem too. I can't remember if it's still true, but for a while ACSO was more in the red than Pilot. For the Aurora and MH fleets, not having enough of those makes the aircraft flyable, but not able to do its job.

If we were to expand the discussion, there were NCM Navigators in WWII but again, it wouldn't help the current personnel throughput problem.
 

Good2Golf

Moderator
Staff member
Directing Staff
Subscriber
Mentor
Reaction score
8,362
Points
1,360
In the short-sighted view of supporting Ops in as unreduced manner as possible, I’m hard pressed to find meaningful examples where the FG side of things at the respective (all Aircrew MOSIDs) OTUs and OTFs, hasn’t be disproportionately under staffed. This is a significantly greater issue than what an optimal Officer/NCM aircrew composition could look like.
 

FJAG

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
4,734
Points
1,040
The problem for aircrew (not just pilots, but also ACSO and AESOp production) is not at the winged grad level. We have an ample supply of on OJT folks in all three aircrew occupations waiting for the Cyclone OTU. That is where the bottleneck exists. There are just not sufficient quantities of trained and experienced aircrew to simultaneously carry out operations at sea and have a sufficiently large enough instructor cadre (we need both simultaneously. If you shutdown sea going deployments to feed the school house, in a year or so your pool of future instructors will have dried up, because no one will have gained the operational experience and development they need to be an instructor) to beat down the backlog. This is what as known as a wicked problem- there are no magic solutions besides time and patience (Well, maybe culling the number of staff jobs that have to be filled would help some. And better aircraft serviceability). Interestingly, the MH fleet is not really short of pilots relative to the other aircrew. Our problems lie more at the ACSO and AESOp level. My sense is that introducing a WO pilot stream would not help 12 Wing.
That's a very astute definition of the problem but I think when faced with a conundrum like this you can't simply ignore it and go on as per usual; you have to pick the least evil solution and go with it.

On the one hand we know we have insufficient throughput to grow (or sustain) the force due to a shortfall of human and equipment resources. On the other hand, we suspect that allocating resources from operational units to training units could impair the pool of future instructors.

IMHO, a semi-pause where a portion of the resources are switched from operations to training for a few years will generate a larger force downstream to reallocate to operations and consequentially the availability of more operationally experienced instructors. Whether that actually has a lasting impact on retaining instructor capable personnel is a question and is probably a risk that may need to be taken. (I'll leave open the question as to whether or not we have enough simulators to ramp up throughput but that too may be a resource allocation that requires solving)

In this case the usual rule that "insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result" applies. If throughput is a recognized ongoing problem, it must be solved, not ignored.

As an aside, back in the seventies I went to Staff School in Toronto where one of my syndicate mates was a CF 104 pilot (I told you I'm that old). I was surprised to learn that when he graduated from his CF104 course, he was immediately retained at the school as a CF104 pilot instructor rather than being sent to an operational squadron. Apparently the best students were immediately rerolled to doing basic instruction of the next few serials of new students and then after a few years sent on to Germany.

🍻
 

kev994

Sr. Member
Reaction score
706
Points
1,060
That works on a training aircraft where it takes a year to make an instructor, but not on a complex aircraft with a complex mission set. A Herc, for example, it takes ~4 years to make an instructor and not everyone can do it. And only the units have the capacity to make Aircraft Commanders and instructors, so it doesn’t really work for the OTUs.
Throwing piles of cash at the instructors until they stop leaving, now that might work.
 

MilEME09

Army.ca Fixture
Reaction score
3,749
Points
1,090
That works on a training aircraft where it takes a year to make an instructor, but not on a complex aircraft with a complex mission set. A Herc, for example, it takes ~4 years to make an instructor and not everyone can do it. And only the units have the capacity to make Aircraft Commanders and instructors, so it doesn’t really work for the OTUs.
Throwing piles of cash at the instructors until they stop leaving, now that might work.
Would we be able to ask our allies for assistance on some platforms? Or contract more outside instructors? Hercs for example?
 
Top