Out Ranking

Something I’ve never really got as a CI is Ranks between SNCO and Officer. Do all officers out-rank sncos at a squadron, or does a WO outrank a Plt Off?! A bit confused. Ta for help

All commissioned officers rank higher than any non-commissioned officer or Warrant Officer.

How that is implemented in reality may be a different matter :slight_smile:

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Rank and authority are different things. You may find that a higher rank (eg a Fg Off to a WO) has far less experience, and so the lower rank often ends up with more authority in most situations. The key then is how that authority is managed, and how the Fg Off manages it.

Indeed. Any shiny new Pilot Officer who tries to lord it over an experienced Warrant Officer is likely to be told to sling their hook, even though the Pilot Officer outranks the Warrant Officer. “Respectfully Sir, jog on.”


It takes a brave Pilot Officer to pull rank on a WO.

Not that that means that if the cause is right the Plt Off shouldn’t do it.


Officers do out rank but the whole chain listens to each other and circumstances dictate who’s in charge. Woe betide anyone crossing a SWO regardless of how big their barcode is.


As a Regiment JNCO running a range one time, I had occasion to throw a FS off the firing point. He may have outranked me but as the RCO, I was in charge of the range and what I said, went.


Rank at squadron level is only so as to appropriate blame, normally the squadron commander being the senior rank.
When you get to Wing level this where the willy waving and what ever the female equivalent is really starts. There are a number of Wing Staff especially Sqn Ldrs who like their rank and some Flt Lt Wing Staff who think they are something spesh.
Other than that rank serve very little purpose as we’re all there to do the same thing, such that rank has little meaning.
Ask how many think you need to be an officer to run a squadron.

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At the end of my course at ATF, after graduation, I was asked by (then) FS Mitchell to close the window. I said Don’t you mean, ‘Close the window please, Sir!’? His face was a lesson in itself…


What an epitaph!

Knowing Mitch, it could well have been…

What would he have done? Beat them to death with that chip he had on his shoulder? :joy:


Possibly because we are now so far from flying that no-one thinks of it any more, but in an aircraft the designated commander (captain, if you prefer) ALWAYS has authority regardless of rank.

On the airfield the VGS duty instructor (could have been a CI, or nowadays an ATC NCO) has authority over everyone else. In general it would be the highest instructor Cat. not rank that would hold sway.


From Pprune on a thread about the repatriation system and how an aircraft captain is the boss at all times regardless of rank.

‘We had just go all 4 running when we were informed a Puma was inbound with a comp A on board. The Puma was 60 minutes out so we shut down and waited. After explaining to the pax what was going on, everyone (except an army colonel) settled down for the duration. The col. in question started threatening all sorts to try to make us depart on schedule, even threatening to call 2 and 3 stars in London. The captain was an old hand, and his reply is one I’ll never forget’.

“You can call God for all I care, because we aren’t going anywhere until that guy is on-board. If you want to be aboard when we do leave, then I suggest you sit down and shut the **** up, Sir.”

I’m with you, Bob, except I have no idea what a Comp A is.

Also known as the ‘Prince Charles’ principle.

Also applies of course on ranges - the RCO is in charge regardless of anyone’s rank.

I rather like the way QAIC is entirely rankless.

When armed forces personel receive news that a family member is gravely ill in the UK and they are away on operations, or posted abroad or on a ship, a system exists to get them home to the UK as fast as possible, using any means available. Go to the link below and that explains it.


Sounds very reasonable to me.

No rules or references (that I know of) in the civilian world, but I would certainly have found a plausible reason to wait - the Ops Manual is full of reasons not to fly!

I’ve read that thread a few times over the years, but it never fails to remind me of just how good the system can be. Thanks for re-sharing.

As it’s put by our Regions TSA “you are mistaking your rank with my authority sir”