Flight lieutenant

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Flight lieutenant (Flt Lt or F/L) is a junior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. [1] The rank originated in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS) in 1914. It fell into abeyance when the RNAS merged with the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War but was revived in 1919 in the post-war RAF. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

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Flight lieutenant is immediately senior to flying officer and immediately below squadron leader. It is usually equivalent to the rank of lieutenant in the navy and of the rank of captain in other services.

The equivalent rank in the former Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) (until 1980) was flight officer.

Canada

The rank was used in the Royal Canadian Air Force from 1920 until the 1968 unification of the Canadian Forces, when army-type rank titles were adopted. Canadian flight lieutenants then became captains. [ citation needed ] In official Canadian French usage, the rank title was capitaine d'aviation. [2]

United Kingdom

Flight lieutenant
British RAF OF-2.svg
Shoulder and sleeve insignia
CountryFlag of the United Kingdom.svg  United Kingdom
Service branchEnsign of the Royal Air Force.svg  Royal Air Force
AbbreviationFlt Lt / FLTLT
NATO rank code OF-2
FormationAugust 1919 (1919-08)
Next higher rank Squadron leader
Next lower rank Flying officer
Equivalent ranks
Related articles
History Royal Naval Air Service

Origins

The rank insignia of a Royal Naval Air Service flight lieutenant RNAS Flt Lt.png
The rank insignia of a Royal Naval Air Service flight lieutenant

The rank originated in the Royal Navy as a rank title for naval lieutenants serving in the Royal Naval Air Service (RNAS). [3] Promotions to the rank were first gazetted on 30 June 1914. [4] It fell into abeyance when the RNAS merged with the Royal Flying Corps during the First World War but was revived in 1919 in the post-war RAF. [5]

On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with Royal Naval Air Service lieutenants (titled as flight lieutenants and flight commanders) and Royal Flying Corps captains becoming captains in the RAF. In response to the proposal that the RAF should use its own rank titles, it was suggested that the RAF might use the Royal Navy's officer ranks, with the word "air" inserted before the naval rank title. For example, the current rank of flight lieutenant would have been "air lieutenant". Although the Admiralty objected to this simple modification of their rank titles, it was agreed that the RAF might base many of its officer rank titles on navy officer ranks with differing pre-modifying terms. It was also suggested that RAF captains might be entitled flight-leaders. However, the rank title flight lieutenant was chosen as flights were typically commanded by RAF captains and the term flight lieutenant had been used in the Royal Naval Air Service. The RAF rank of flight lieutenant was introduced in August 1919 [6] and it has been used continuously since then.

Usage in the RAF

Although in the early years of the RAF a flight lieutenant commanded an aircraft flight, with the increasing combat power of aircraft and therefore squadrons, command and control has shifted up the rank structure (currently, for instance, most squadron commanders in the RAF are Wing Commanders, a reflection on the comparative combat power between the modern air force and its predecessor).

The RAF's promotion system is automatic up until flight lieutenant. Every officer will attain the rank provided they complete their professional training and do not leave early. For aircrew, flight lieutenant is reached 2.5 years after commissioning, Engineering Branch (AS & CE) entrants with applicable bachelor's/master's degrees reach flight lieutenant at 2.5 and 1.5 years respectively, and for all other ground branch officers, 3.5 years. Aircrew are appointed to an Early Departure Payment Commission upon reaching their Operational Conversion Unit, which is a commission for 20 years or age 40, whichever is later. Promotion to squadron leader thereafter is strictly upon merit; officers promoted beyond flight lieutenant are appointed to a career commission, or service to age 60. Resigning a commission is generally dependent on the needs of the service, although an officer who has completed their return of service (service the RAF requires to justify its expense in originally training the officer) could leave after as little as four years. For aircrew, given the large expense required for training, this return of service is generally the length of their initial commission anyway, unless they re-role to a different branch having failed an element of flying training. Most aircrew reach their squadrons as flight lieutenants due to the length of training time required (up to four years for fast jet pilots) and the significant holds in the training pipeline. [7] The majority of squadron line pilots are flight lieutenants, with some squadron executives or Career Commission aircrew reaching Squadron Leader.

Aside from aircrew, whose work typically does not require active leadership for units of airmen, ground branch officers can expect to operate units that can range in size from a few specialist non-commissioned personnel to 50 or more personnel for engineering or other manpower intensive roles. The role of a flight lieutenant generally involves management of a team of specialist non-commissioned officers and airmen, within their specific branch. In the RAF Regiment, a flight lieutenant generally has the same role and responsibility as a captain in the British Army, in charge of a regiment flight of 30 men, and could be second-in-command of a squadron of up to 120 men.

Flight lieutenant is the most common officer rank in the RAF; in April 2013, for example, there were 8,230 RAF officers, of whom 3,890 (47.3%) were flight lieutenants. [8] In RAF informal usage, a flight lieutenant is sometimes referred to as a "flight lieuy". A Flight Lieutenant's starting salary is £42,008.48 as of 2019. [9]

RAF Air Cadets

In the Air Training Corps, a flight lieutenant is usually the officer commanding of a squadron [ citation needed ], appointed under a Cadet Forces Commission. [10] Retired flight lieutenants are the first rank that may continue to use their rank after they have left active service. [11]

Insignia

The rank insignia consists of two narrow blue bands on slightly wider black bands. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flight suit or the casual uniform. The rank insignia on the mess uniform is similar to the naval pattern, being two band of gold running around each cuff but without the Royal Navy's loop. Unlike senior RAF officers, flight lieutenants are not entitled to fly a command flag under any circumstances.

Notable flight lieutenants

Bir Sreshtho Matiur Rahman, famous Bangladeshi freedom fighter. Bir Shreshto Flt. Lft. Matiur Rahman-3.png
Bir Sreshtho Matiur Rahman, famous Bangladeshi freedom fighter.
Prince William in 2010, in his flight lieutenant's uniform; promoted to squadron leader in 2016 Prince William of Wales RAF.jpg
Prince William in 2010, in his flight lieutenant's uniform; promoted to squadron leader in 2016

See also

Related Research Articles

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Commander is a common naval officer rank as well as a job title in many armies. Commander is also used as a rank or title in other formal organizations, including several police forces. In several countries this naval rank is termed frigate captain.

The history of the Royal Canadian Air Force begins in 1914, with the formation of the Canadian Aviation Corps (CAC) that was attached to the Canadian Expeditionary Force during the First World War. It consisted of one aircraft that was never called into service. In 1918, a wing of two Canadian squadrons called the Canadian Air Force (CAF) was formed in England and attached to the Royal Air Force, but it also would never see wartime service. Postwar, an air militia also known as the Canadian Air Force was formed in Canada in 1920. In 1924 the CAF was renamed the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) when it was granted the royal title by King George V. The RCAF existed as an independent service until 1968.

Flying officer is a junior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

Squadron leader is a senior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

Wing commander is a senior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

Group captain is a senior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

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Pilot officer is a junior officer rank used by some air forces, with origins from the Royal Air Force. The rank is used by air forces of many countries that have historical British influence.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air Training Corps</span> British volunteer youth organisation, primarily focussing on military aviation

The Air Training Corps (ATC) is a British volunteer youth organisation of the United Kingdom; aligned to, and fostering the knowledge and learning of military values, primarily focussing on military aviation. Part of the Royal Air Force Air Cadets (RAFAC), the ATC is sponsored by the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the wider Ministry of Defence (MoD). The majority of Air Training Corps staff are volunteers, though some staff are paid for full-time work; including Commandant Air Cadets, who is a Royal Air Force officer as part of a Full Term Reserve Service commitment.

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Flight sergeant</span> Senior non-commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force

Flight sergeant is a senior non-commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and several other air forces which have adopted all or part of the RAF rank structure. It is equivalent to a staff sergeant or colour sergeant in the British Army, a colour sergeant in the Royal Marines, and a chief petty officer in the Royal Navy, and has a NATO rank code of OR-7. In the RAF, flight sergeant ranks above chief technician and below warrant officer.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Aircrew brevet</span> Aircrew badge in RAF, British Army and other commonwealth nations

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<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warrant officer (United Kingdom)</span> Non-commissioned rank in the British Armed Forces

A warrant officer (WO) in the British Armed Forces is a member of the highest-ranking group of non-commissioned ranks, holding the King's Warrant, which is signed by the Secretary of State for Defence.

References

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