RAF pilot career path

I think it depends on the industry. General grad scheme, possibly anything will do. Something like law, assuming you don’t have a law degree, they’ll want to see a more rigorous degree.

I’d include traditional academic degrees such as history in that as you’re expected to do a lot of reading. If you do it all then you’ll be putting the same hours in as an engineering degree. (If being the operative word).

I say that even though I know I did more work in my one year of Aerospace than my three years of history - probably because that was really my passion so didn’t feel like work. [I’d only gone down the engineering route really after being persuaded by the RAF Careers Officer who visited the school each term. One Wing Commander J Middleton.]


Er, no; they binned a large number of pilots still in trg (10-12 yrs ago?) - would you like to be an ops officer, etc? One of my friends was lucky, managed to get a BA Cadetship, that said, furloughed over Covid-19 but recently moved up to long haul.


I was there. Well, not there, but knew a hefty chunk of the 400 guys who got binned. Dark days. Definitely not a stable career.

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Better! :wink:

Until you said that!!! Candidates DO need to think long term about the practical application of their degree! Irrespective of being it a Geoff Hurst or a Desmond in Basket Weaving - it does not lead to a long term career in engineering, biomedicine or fine art.

Yes - there are Grad schemes which are interested in the transferrable skills a degree holder brings (capacity to operate at Level 6). But there are plenty of grad schemes - including some within the Civil Service who DO lean towards specific degrees AND even down to specific institutions (Russell group ones).

The landscape is far more nuanced than you are suggesting.

Broadly speaking, for our candidate who will be doing a backup, a 2.1 beats a 2.2. Very unlikely to benefit from a worse grade in something that you’ve pursued because you think it looks good, without the underlying passion of talent.

I did that route, have the 2.2 to show for it :stuck_out_tongue: I’d give so much to go back and change the choice of degree! Sat there at 2am frantically trying to cram some knowledge about infinite beams into my head… Yuck.

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The RAF is a more stable employer than airlines. Absolutely 100%, the single example in the last couple of decades of pilots being chopped doesn’t negate that. Arguably right place right time given the number that got hoovered by Cathay, BA etc. By all accounts the RAF still regrets that particular cluster…

It’s a publicly funded body. You get job security from that, we shouldn’t minimise that. You’ll never turn on the news and panic because the RAF’s share price has dropped 30% and investors are calling for overnight budget cuts.

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This is the same conversation I have been having with my son who is nearly 16 and looking at what is best for to get him into the RAF as a Pilot. He is currently a Sgt in the Cadets. I told him that the UNI route would give hime a plan B but he could also apply once he has done his A levels and see if he gets selected. The only thing he may have in his favour is that he will have had 60+ hours under his belt and should have passed his PPL just after his 17 Birthday although I am not sure how much that would help him in the selection process.

As of last night I believe, the RAF Pilot career path has been re-opened.

Don’t hand around if you are going to apply!

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If I could wind back the clock about 10 years, I’d be right on it :rofl:

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And you’d be waiting another 10 years to actually fly anything.


Very annoying you can’t apply after 23. :frowning:

The Sky article makes a good point that junior pilots hitting the front line are in their 30s now, potentially married with kids. Very different culture compared to say 25 y/o singlies. Complicates the career path too as their isn’t much time to pull them through to the starred level if they don’t hit a first tour til 30


Trying to remember what the previous age cut off was - I think it was starting DIOT by the age of 25?

So, if they have added in a 2 yr buffer (see separate thread about delays), then that says a lot about timeline expectations.

7 years from starting EFT to being Operationally Ready!

Yep, it was be in training by 25 and 364 days. I can see it coming down further in future, too.

Weirdly it used to be 23 as it is now, seems they’re just adjusting to market conditions. Makes a handy filter doesn’t it.

If you’re getting 20:1 good applicants to jobs, doesn’t really matter if you cull a quest yet by an arbitrary lowering of age requirements.

Even more fantastic news. People really need to remember not to write anything in an email they wouldn’t want on the front page of the daily mail… or sky news splash screen


What phonecalls are for oh wait newspapers bug them too

I can’t see Ms Haynes getting an invite to CAS’ leaving do

From behind the Telegraph paywall. You couldn’t make it up!

RAF told to ‘stop choosing useless white male pilots’, leak reveals

Leaked email emerges after claims service had been put under ‘intolerable pressure’ to hit diversity targets

By Danielle Sheridan, Defence Editor 31 May 2023 • 1:16pm

The RAF instructed staff to stop choosing “useless white male pilots” for training courses in a leaked email seen by The Telegraph.

In an email dated Jan 19, 2021, Squadron Leader Andrew Harwin, who worked in the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre, discussed the boarding process where candidates are chosen to pursue certain training courses. He wrote: “I noted that the boards have recently been predominantly white male heavy.

“If we don’t have enough BAME and female to board then we need to make the decision to pause boarding and seek more BAME and female from the RAF.

“I don’t really need to see loads of useless white male pilots, let’s get as focused as possible, I am more than happy to reduce boarding if needed to have a balanced BAME/female/male board.”

An RAF source told The Telegraph that the “email clearly demonstrates the endemic culture that was created by the senior leadership to chase ridiculous diversity statistics that were patently unachievable”.

“This culture extended to issuing orders that were illegal,” they said.

The RAF source added that the selection process stunted the career progression of white men.

“If the selection board didn’t have any ethnic minorities and women, they were cancelling those boards, which meant the white males who were in the system and were going for the Air Force, were held up effectively because you’re pausing them,” they said.

“If I’m due to be on a board tomorrow, but because I’m white male, and there’s no females and ethnic minorities and they cancel my board, then they are delaying me in the process.”

The source added: “When they do come into the system, they are arriving into the Air Force later. Their commencement of paid employment is being delayed because they’re white males.”

It comes after Group Captain Lizzy Nicholl, who took over the recruitment department at RAF Cranwell in 2021, quit over claims the service had paused the recruitment of white men to hit diversity targets.

Earlier this year it was revealed in a defence select committee that Gp Capt Nicholl had accused the RAF of discriminating against 160 white men in its effort to meet the targets.

‘Slap in the face’

In a recent interview with The Telegraph, Air Chief Marshal Sir Mike Wigston, the outgoing head of the RAF, called Gp Capt Nicholl’s resignation a “regrettable” outcome.

“One of the mistakes we made was that those aspirational goals filtered down into people’s personal objectives in-year which they found almost impossible to meet,” he said.

“That put intolerable pressure on them and I’ve apologised to the recruiting and selection organisation.”

He added: “We were doing all we could to tackle this intractable problem, which is the lack of diversity in our service.”

However, RAF sources said Sir Mike’s response was a “slap in the face” for the former group captain, who had seemingly lost her job after blowing the whistle on unlawful practices.

They said: “Everything we are told in the RAF is about doing the right thing, but nobody in the organisation has been held accountable.”

While in charge of the RAF, Sir Mike committed to having 40 per cent women and 20 per cent of personnel from ethnic minorities by 2030.

However, of the 1,500 pilots in the RAF at the end of last year, only 30 were women and around 10 were from ethnic minorities.

Less than two per cent of the 8,500 engineers were from ethnic minorities and six per cent were women, while only three per cent of the RAF as a whole came from an ethnic minority.

An RAF spokesman said: “The Royal Air Force will not shy away from the challenges we face building a service that attracts and recruits talent from every part of the UK workforce. We will continue doing everything we can to increase our recruiting intake from under-represented groups within the provisions of the law.

“All individuals joining the Royal Air Force were and are selected on merit and any individuals that were advanced to their training courses had already passed the selection process. There was no compromise of entry standards and no impact on the front line or operational effectiveness.”