Pilot officer

Last updated

Pilot officer
British RAF OF-1a.svg
Shoulder and sleeve insignia
of a pilot officer from the Royal Air Force
Service branch Air forces
AbbreviationPlt Off / PLTOFF
NATO rank code OF-1
Non-NATO rankO-1
Formation1 April 1918 (1918-04-01) (RAF)
Next higher rank Flying officer
Next lower rank Acting pilot officer
Equivalent ranks
Related articles
History Royal Naval Air Service

Pilot officer (Plt Off officially in the RAF; PLTOFF in the RAAF and RNZAF; formerly P/O in all services, and still often used in the RAF) is the lowest commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force [1] and the air forces of many other Commonwealth countries. It ranks immediately below flying officer.

Contents

It has a NATO ranking code of OF-1 and is equivalent to a second lieutenant in the British Army or the Royal Marines. The Royal Navy has no exact equivalent rank, and a pilot officer is senior to a Royal Navy midshipman and junior to a Royal Navy sub-lieutenant. In the Australian Armed Forces, the rank of pilot officer is equivalent to acting sub lieutenant in the Royal Australian Navy.

The equivalent rank in the Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF) was "assistant section officer".

Origins

In the Royal Flying Corps, officers were designated pilot officers at the end of pilot training. As they retained their commissions in their customary ranks (usually second lieutenant or lieutenant), and many of them had been seconded from their ground units, the designation of pilot officer was a position title rather than a rank.

On 1 April 1918, the newly created RAF adopted its officer rank titles from the British Army, with Royal Flying Corps second lieutenants becoming second lieutenants in the RAF. Consideration was given to renaming second lieutenants as ensigns. However, when the RAF's own rank structure was introduced in August 1919, RAF second lieutenants who were qualified pilots[ citation needed ] were re-designated as pilot officers, a rank which has been in continuous use ever since. Those who were not qualified pilots were redesignated observer officers, but this was later phased out and all officers of this rank became pilot officers.

RAF usage

The rank of pilot officer does not imply that the officer is aircrew. Following recent reforms to the Royal Air Force's promotion system, wherein previously, university graduates passed out of RAF Cranwell at a higher substantive rank than their non-graduate peers, pilot officer rank is now only applicable to ground branches. Aircrew and engineers receive their commissions as flying officers and skip the rank altogether. A ground branch officer will remain in the pilot officer rank for six months following commissioning, before an automatic promotion to flying officer. Because of the nature of phase II training (professional training after the phase I initial officer training), a pilot officer will generally spend time in rank on a further training course, and is not likely to be operationally active.

Some students in the University Air Squadrons are promoted to the rank of acting pilot officer (which includes a week-long course at RAF Cranwell) as part of the leadership element of their squadron. UAS students wear pilot officer rank insignia with officer's headdress and are commissioned into the Volunteer Reserve. Pilot officers are more likely to be found in the CCF and Air Training Corps organisations of the VR(T) branch, because they are likely to spend far longer in rank than those serving in the RAF.

Insignia

The rank insignia consists of a thin blue band on slightly wider black band. This is worn on both the lower sleeves of the tunic or on the shoulders of the flying suit or the casual uniform.

Although no current Royal Navy rank has an insignia of a single half width ring, a pilot officer's mess insignia of one thin band of gold running around each cuff is similar to the insignia formerly worn by Royal Navy warrant officers. As with the mess insignia for other RAF officer ranks, the band of gold does not have the Royal Navy's loop.

Other air forces

The rank of pilot officer is also used in a number of the air forces in the Commonwealth, including the Bangladesh Air Force, [2] Namibian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force and Sri Lanka Air Force. The rank is no longer used by the Indian Air Force and all trainee cadets are commissioned into the force as flying officers.

The Royal Canadian Air Force used the rank until the three armed services were unified into the Canadian Forces in 1968 and army-type ranks were adopted. A Canadian pilot officer then became a second lieutenant. In official French Canadian usage, a pilot officer's rank title was sous-lieutenant d'aviation. The Royal Malaysian Air Force used "young lieutenant".

See also

Related Research Articles

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Warrant officer</span> Military rank

Warrant officer (WO) is a rank or category of ranks in the armed forces of many countries. Depending on the country, service, or historical context, warrant officers are sometimes classified as the most junior of the commissioned ranks, the most senior of the non-commissioned officer (NCO) ranks, or in a separate category of their own. Warrant officer ranks are especially prominent in the militaries of Commonwealth nations and the United States.

Second lieutenant is a junior commissioned officer military rank in many armed forces, comparable to NATO OF-1 rank.

Flying officer is a junior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force (RAF) and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. In these cases a flying officer usually ranks above pilot officer and immediately below flight lieutenant.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Squadron leader</span> OF-3 rank in the Royal Air Force and other air forces

Squadron leader is a commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force and the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence. It is also sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Wing commander</span> Commissioned rank in the RAF and air forces of other Commonwealth countries

Wing commander is a senior commissioned rank in the British Royal Air Force and air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including many Commonwealth countries but not including Canada and South Africa. It is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. It ranks immediately above squadron leader and immediately below group captain.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Group captain</span> Senior commissioned rank which originated in the Royal Air Force

Group captain is a senior commissioned rank in the Royal Air Force, where it originated, as well as the air forces of many countries that have historical British influence. It is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-British air force-specific rank structure. Group captain has a NATO rank code of OF-5, meaning that it ranks above wing commander, immediately below air commodore and is the equivalent of the naval rank of captain and the rank of colonel in other services.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air commodore</span> One-star rank and is an air-officer rank (Flag Rank, Deputy Director General Level)

Air commodore is a one-star rank and is an air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence such as Zimbabwe, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. The name of the rank is always the full phrase; it is never shortened to "commodore", which is a rank in various naval forces.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air vice-marshal</span> Two-star air-officer rank

Air vice-marshal (AVM) is a two-star air officer rank which originated in and continues to be used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure. Air vice-marshals may be addressed generically as "air marshal".

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Air marshal</span> Air-officer rank

Air marshal is a three-star air-officer rank which originated in and is used by the Royal Air Force. The rank is also used by the air forces of many countries which have historical British influence, including the Commonwealth, and it is sometimes used as the English translation of an equivalent rank in countries which have a non-English air force-specific rank structure.

Flight lieutenant is a junior commissioned rank in air forces that use the Royal Air Force (RAF) system of ranks, especially in Commonwealth countries. It has a NATO rank code of OF-2. Flight lieutenant is abbreviated as Flt Lt in the Indian Air Force (IAF) and RAF, and as FLTLT in the Pakistan Air Force (PAF), Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) and Royal New Zealand Air Force (RNZAF) and has sometimes also been abbreviated as F/L in many services; it has never been correctly abbreviated as "lieutenant". A flight lieutenant ranks above flying officer and below a squadron leader and is sometimes used as an English language translation of a similar rank in non-English-speaking countries.

An aviator badge is an insignia used in most of the world's militaries to designate those who have received training and qualification in military aviation. Also known as a Pilot's Badge, or Pilot Wings, the Aviator Badge was first conceived to recognize the training that military aviators receive, as well as provide a means to outwardly differentiate between military pilots and the “foot soldiers” of the regular ground forces.

Officer Cadet is a rank held by military cadets during their training to become commissioned officers. In the United Kingdom, the rank is also used by members of University Royal Naval Units, University Officer Training Corps and University Air Squadron; however, these are not trainee officers with many not choosing a career in the armed forces.

Sub-lieutenant is a junior military officer rank.

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

An aircrew flying badge is the badge worn on the left breast, above any medal ribbons, by qualified aircrew in the Royal Air Force, Royal Navy, British Army, Indian Air Force, Pakistan Air Force, Royal Canadian Air Force, Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army, Royal Australian Air Force, Royal New Zealand Air Force, South African Air Force and Sri Lanka Air Force. An example of a real pilot brevet is as opposite:

Acting pilot officer is the lowest commissioned grade in the Royal Air Force. Acting pilot officer is not an actual military rank, therefore acting pilot officers are regraded to pilot officer instead of receiving a promotion. Unlike other RAF ranks which officers may hold in an acting capacity, acting pilot officer is maintained as a separate grade. The grade normally denotes an officer who has recently been commissioned and joined as a non-graduate direct entrant.

The officer ranks of the Royal Air Force, as they are today, were introduced in 1919. Prior to that Army ranks were used.

The term used in the Royal Air Force (RAF) to refer to all ranks below commissioned officer level is other ranks (ORs). It includes warrant officers (WOs), non-commissioned officers (NCOs) and airmen.

Before Unification as the Canadian Armed Forces in 1968, the Canadian military had three distinct services: the Royal Canadian Navy, the Royal Canadian Air Force, and the Canadian Army. All three services had a Regular (full-time) component and a reserve (part-time) component. The rank structure for these services were based on the services of the British military, the Royal Navy, the Royal Air Force, and the British Army. The change to a "Canadian" rank structure meant that many of the traditional (British) rank titles and insignia were removed or changed.

The rank structure of the Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) has been inherited from the Royal Air Force (RAF). The RAF based its officer ranks on the Royal Navy, and its airmen ranks on the British Army.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Uniforms of the Royal Air Force</span> Standardised military dress

The Royal Air Force uniform is the standardised military dress worn by members of the Royal Air Force. The predominant colours of Royal Air Force uniforms are blue-grey and Wedgwood blue. Many Commonwealth air forces' uniforms are also based on the RAF pattern, but with nationality shoulder flashes. The Royal Air Force Air Cadets wear similar uniforms.

References

  1. "Ranks and Badges of the Royal Air Force". Royal Air Force. 2007. Archived from the original on 14 December 2007. Retrieved 1 December 2007.
  2. "BAF RANKS". Bangladesh Air Force Website. BAF Communication Unit. 2020. Retrieved 13 December 2020.