Adult snco process. Advice and guidance needed

Hi all

I have been with my Squadron since Feb and I am looking to go into uniform. Originally I wanted to go straight for officer but my squadron is lacking in staff NCO’s. (Currently there are none and no other staff showing an interest.) So thinking about going the NCO route first for a while before going for a commission.

I can’t seem to find much reference the process for snco on bader or Google.

Can anyone shine some light on this? I.e. The interview process and what’s involved? Also, is there a two day testing phase at Cranwell for NCO’s like for the officers?

Many thanks in advance.

Hi Captain

The info you are looking for can be found in ACP 20 (Personnel Instruction 301). I’ll give you a brief overview below. And no, you don’t need to attend OASC at Cranwell.

Eligibility: Aged 20-55

Step1: Approach your OC to discuss the role, if he/she supports your application they will need to write a short narrative about you and send this to Wing HQ.

Step2: If OC Wing approves of your application they will arrange for you to appear before a Selection Board at Wing HQ. This comprises of OC Wing plus two other WSOs or the Wing WO. The interview will test both your ACO knowledge and personal motivation for the role. They usually ask why you chose SNCO over Commission. You’ll need a thorough grasp of the ATC organisational structure and where we fit in to the wider RAF. You may be asked about your home situation and how your family will feel about the extra commitment. Remember that as uniformed staff you are required to give a minimum of 12hrs service per month. Child protection is always a hot topic so re-read ACP1&4. Knowing the history and aims of the ATC is a must. Also be aware of the training opportunities available to cadets and staff.

Step3: If the board agree that you are suitable for appointment to a SNCO role they will send a recommendation to HQAC. You are usually informed of the boards decision on the day of the interview.

Step4: If successful at the SNCO board you will be appointed as a SNCO in the rank of Sergeant (ATC) for an initial period of 5 years. The first 12 months of this are considered probationary and you must attend the 1 week long (Sun-Fri) SNCO Staff Initial Course (SSIC) at the Adult Training Facility (ATF) RAF Cranwell in this time. Failure to do so will result in your SNCO appointment being terminated. Courses run most months of the year and you can book on the one most convenient for you. You will also be able to claim a weeks pay for attending the course. You will wear a white tab on your rank slide until you complete SSIC. You will not be able to attend any camps or courses as a SNCO until you complete SSIC. Before attending SSIC you will need to complete a drill test with a DI and get them to sign a form to say that you have reached a sufficient drill standard, you take this form with you to SSIC.

Many Wings are now running potential uniformed staff courses and drill development courses. Depending on local custom you may be required to complete one or more of these courses before attending a Wing Board or SSIC. Your OC will be able to advise you regarding local policy.

SSIC Content

Drill, Uniform Upkeep, Instructional Techniques, Child Protection etc. As this is a SNCO prep course there is a much greater emphasis on drill, dress and deportment when compared to the Officers Initial Course as this is supposedly the SNCO’s ‘bread and butter’. If you aren’t an ex cadet (or regular) make sure you get plenty of drill instruction from your cadet NCOs or a SNCO/WO (ATC) from another unit. They expect you to hit the ground running at SSIC and the pace is fairly intense. People have been sent home in the past for poor drill ability, you also get given ‘homework’ most nights so you don’t want to be wasting your free time brushing up on shaky drill moves.

The training team at ATF are top class. WO Mannion and FS Moss are both RAF Regiment and have a bit of banter with the course, just put the effort in and you will have a great time.

Promotion Prospects

You can apply for promotion to Flight Sergeant (ATC) after a period 4 years as a Sgt (ATC) with your OC’s recommendation. An application for Warrant Officer (ATC) may be submitted after a period of 4 years in the rank of FS (ATC). Promotion to each additional rank will require you to evidence attendance at blue/green camps and staff development courses (AT/Shooting/DI/First Aid etc).

Hope all this helps.


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Thank you so much for a top class response! It has answered all my questions!

Thank you.

Upper age limit for application now 65 - no upper age limit on service, subject to individual review.


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[quote=“bti” post=25923]Upper age limit for application now 65 - no upper age limit on service, subject to individual review.


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Has paperwork been amended then; I asked the question and was told age for application had not changed although upper age limit had risen to 65 yrs old.

Seems that you can be aged over 50 on appointment but it requires special authorisation from HQAC.

ACP 20 (PI 301, Para 3)

“Applicants are to be at least 20 and under 50 years of age by the date of appointment. Where a suitable candidate aged 50 years or older is under consideration the approval of HQ Air Cadets (SO3 Personnel Management) is to be sought before proceeding with the selection process. Permission to appoint will only be considered if there is a lack of uniformed posts on a particular unit, there is a vacancy, the applicant has knowledge and experience of a subject that is lacking from other areas and the Rgnl Comdt agrees the appointment.”


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Nope - Comdt’s letter of 29 Apr 15 re. CFAV TACOS review specifically raised the age limit - was promulgated on SharePoint ACO announcements:

WEF 1 May 15, upper age limit (inc. for applications) increased to 65, with 1 year extensions on a case by case basis thereafter.

Normal 5 year engagements before age 65.

ACP20 has not yet been amended (nor has AP1919)


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It would be interesting to see someone who is 63 test the system and then quote the relevant reference if refused.

The fact that the ACP and AP aren’t up to date shouldn’t be a surprise. We never have publications up to date despite them now being all electronic. When that letter was published it should have been little more of an admin task than copy - paste or if that was too complicated an asterisk and comment “see letter xyz dated”.

More interesting yet is that JSP814 has stated an upper age limit for CFAV service of age 65 for many years… ATC CFAV TACOS in AP1919 and ACP20B / ACP20 have been contrary to JSP814 for some time.

It’s actually a more complicated problem all round really - specifically in the case of Offr TACOS.

Being members of the RAFR - by virtue of RAFVR service - Offrs TACOS are subject to approval by the Defence Council IAW RFA96 s4. These TACOS - approved by the Defence Council (AFB on behalf of the Defence Council, or the Defence Council in toto?) are contained in AP1919; to which ACP20 is subordinate. At the moment, we have a situation where Offr TACOS - with the recent Cdt SNCO eligibility change and increase in upped age limit - are; officially at least, at odds with the governing regulations approved by the AFB and Defence Council (i.e. those in AP1919 7th Edn)

Granted that the approval of CAS as a member of the Air Cadet Council may negate the need for approval by the full AFB, but does it satisfy the need for approval by the Defence Council?

Yes - if the AFB is empowered to approve sSvc reserve TACOS on behalf of the Defence Council, as required by RFA96 s4 …No - if not!

Interesting situation all round - and either way - AP1919 and ACP20 need updating ASAP.


This would go a long way to explain why people got extensions way beyond 55, but does question why some were refused, depending when it was amended to 65.

With the recent situation around clearances wrt shooting which seems to be contrary to another JSP, raises the question of how many other instances are there where this is the case? How many of these are being ignored or overlooked and stting just under the surface, with who knows what consequences.

I would suspect that there are quite a few contradictions/inconsistencies if the ACO regulatory paper trail were to be checked out.

Whilst CAC’s letter of 29 Apr 15 does state the upper age limit has been raised to 65; there is no mention of the upper application limit being raised in unison.

When I asked for clarification, I was told that at present the upper age limit for applications remains as per MB’s comments below from ACP 20. Answer came down from HQAC.

^ interesting …and incorrect.

The Comdt’s letter specifically states that there is no upper age limit for uniformed service applications, although return of service etc. should be carefully considered etc. where someone is close to 65 (can’t cut and paste on my iPhone!) …so there is a get out clause if someone is, say, 64 and going to be on one year extensions within 12 months; but it specifically states that even that is not a bar, and that cases should be individually considered.

So, in summary, HQAC have it wrong; and you should quote the Comdt’s letter as your reference!

If you’re still having problems thereafter, I suggest you refer it to the Boss herself…


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What forms exactly would I need to fill in to send off to start the appointment process? Is it just a standard Pers form 1-10 with SGT (ATC) Circled in the appointment applied for box?