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Non-Commissioned Pilots in the RCAF Discussion

Good2Golf

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Interestingly, many nations don’t have an issue with an E2-E3 driving a bowser to refuel aircraft.  Is this really a stretch to have E4-E6 remotely operating the airborne bowser?
 

SupersonicMax

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Good2Golf said:
Interestingly, many nations don’t have an issue with an E2-E3 driving a bowser to refuel aircraft.  Is this really a stretch to have E4-E6 remotely operating the airborne bowser?

Many nations don’t have issues with an E-2/E-3 driving a transport truck. Is this really a stretch to have an E4/E-6 flying transport planes?
 

Good2Golf

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SupersonicMax said:
Many nations don’t have issues with an E-2/E-3 driving a transport truck. Is this really a stretch to have an E4/E-6 flying transport planes?

Nope.  Nor should it be.  Nor is it in some progressive aviation branches.

Would you not tank from an MQ-25 if you knew it was being remotely piloted by a warrant Officer?
 

FJAG

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SupersonicMax said:
Many nations don’t have issues with an E-2/E-3 driving a transport truck. Is this really a stretch to have an E4/E-6 flying transport planes?

They aren't E4-E6s but WO1-WO5.

Good2Golf said:
Nope.  Nor should it be.  Nor is it in some progressive aviation branches.

Would you not tank from an MQ-25 if you knew it was being remotely piloted by a warrant Officer?

Many Army WOs do a pretty amazing job flying all kinds of helicopters into harm's way doing medevacs or air assaults or gunship cover. Not taking away anything from the skill required to fly an RPV tanker but it seems like a pretty tame job compared to that.

:cheers:
 

dimsum

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FJAG said:
They aren't E4-E6s but WO1-WO5.

Many Army WOs do a pretty amazing job flying all kinds of helicopters into harm's way doing medevacs or air assaults or gunship cover. Not taking away anything from the skill required to fly an RPV tanker but it seems like a pretty tame job compared to that.

:cheers:

That's a blast from the past - I don't think I've seen the term "RPV" in any documentation past the 90s.  NATO seems to have settled on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is the commonly accepted term for the larger aircraft, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for smaller ones.  Including the ground control systems, communications systems, etc it's usually termed RPAS or UAS.

I'm actually surprised the USN called it UAV rather than RPA, but it might be just a mistake from their PAOs. 
 

FJAG

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Dimsum said:
That's a blast from the past - I don't think I've seen the term "RPV" in any documentation past the 90s.  NATO seems to have settled on Remotely Piloted Aircraft (RPA) is the commonly accepted term for the larger aircraft, or Unmanned Aerial Vehicle (UAV) for smaller ones.  Including the ground control systems, communications systems, etc it's usually termed RPAS or UAS.

I'm actually surprised the USN called it UAV rather than RPA, but it might be just a mistake from their PAOs.

I'm an old guy. I don't have too many synapses left to deal with all the acronym changes that the air force considers essential.

;D
 

Good2Golf

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FJAG said:
They aren't E4-E6s but WO1-WO5.

Many Army WOs do a pretty amazing job flying all kinds of helicopters into harm's way doing medevacs or air assaults or gunship cover. Not taking away anything from the skill required to fly an RPV tanker but it seems like a pretty tame job compared to that.

:cheers:

Indeed.

Some don’t see it that way.  Perhaps they haven’t seen them in action. ???
 

SupersonicMax

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Good2Golf said:
Nope.  Nor should it be.  Nor is it in some progressive aviation branches.

Would you not tank from an MQ-25 if you knew it was being remotely piloted by a warrant Officer?

I'll get gas off anyone.  My concern is not with competency. It is with authority (both formal and informal). Rank, to many, is more important quand competency. It can be hard to be heard when people perceive you as under-ranked for your role (and I am not talking purely about flying - it would be transparent. I am talking about participating in a multi-national mission planning for example, or in other forums.)

The other concern is compensating your workforce commensurate with their responsibilities.  A 10-year US Army WO2 makes $83,900 a year (including BHA/BSA for Pax River as an example). An O-4 with 10 years of service makes $112,000 a year.  That is a huge difference for the same responsibilities.

FJAG said:
They aren't E4-E6s but WO1-WO5.

Many Army WOs do a pretty amazing job flying all kinds of helicopters into harm's way doing medevacs or air assaults or gunship cover. Not taking away anything from the skill required to fly an RPV tanker but it seems like a pretty tame job compared to that.

:cheers:

I did say planes and I meant that word. There are no WO flying transport planes.  I know the US Army employs WOs as helicopter pilots.  I studied at the US Naval Test Pilot School with a US Army WO and he was both a good person and a great pilot (who participated in many unbelievable missions overseas).
 

Good2Golf

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So....transports and fighters and remote-controlled flying gas tanks should be piloted by commissioned officers, but helicopters don’t have as much of an important place in operations so warranted officers are ‘good enough’ because they won’t really need
to have any command authority to accomplish their mission?  That’s an incredibly misguided view, I would posit. 


Want to take a guess at what rank the air mission commander was who led the Osama Bin Laden raid? ???
 

SupersonicMax

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Good2Golf said:
So....transports and fighters and remote-controlled flying gas tanks should be piloted by commissioned officers, but helicopters don’t have as much of an important place in operations so warranted officers are ‘good enough’ because they won’t really need
to have any command authority to accomplish their mission?  That’s an incredibly misguided view, I would posit. 

G2G, you misunderstood me. I vouch for all pilots to be of the same rank structure.

Good2Golf said:
Want to take a guess at what rank the air mission commander was who led the Osama Bin Laden raid? ???

Remember that WO I studied with at USNTPS?


 

Good2Golf

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SupersonicMax said:
G2G, you misunderstood me. I vouch for all pilots to be of the same rank structure.

So there should be no non-commissioned pilots?

SupersonicMax said:
Remember that WO I studied with at USNTPS?

You provided no details...nor did you specifically identify his rank, WO1, WO2, CW3, CW4 or CW5.  Are you implying that the  aviator was CW5 Englen?
 

SupersonicMax

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Good2Golf said:
So there should be no non-commissioned pilots?

You provided no details...nor did you specifically identify his rank, WO1, WO2, CW3, CW4 or CW5.  Are you implying that the  aviator was CW5 Englen?

For the reasons I mentioned 2 posts ago, yes.

It was not him but the WO on my course was part of that raid.  He told us all about it (as much as he could).  I was aware the mission commander was a WO.
 

Good2Golf

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SupersonicMax said:
For the reasons I mentioned 2 posts ago, yes.

It was not him but the WO on my course was part of that raid.  He told us all about it (as much as he could).  I was aware the mission commander was a WO.

Perhaps it’s just me having difficulty understanding your position, Max. 

So aviators uniquely should be commissioned...check.

The OBL mission was incorrectly conducted? ???

...and the USN should operate the MQ-25 with only commissioned officers? ???
 

SupersonicMax

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Good2Golf said:
Perhaps it’s just me having difficulty understanding your position, Max. 

So aviators uniquely should be commissioned...check.

The OBL mission was incorrectly conducted? ???

...and the USN should operate the MQ-25 with only commissioned officers? ???

The raid was not incorrectly executed.  The members of that raid however were of the wrong rank.  iMO, they should have been commissioned officers.  The same people, just a different rank. 
 

Fishbone Jones

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So have I got it straight that the only reason a pilot should be commissioned is so that people listen to them at the table?
It can't be competency. That doesn't come with rank. That comes from experience, learning and listening, not promotion.
 

SupersonicMax

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:2c: the
Fishbone Jones said:
So have I got it straight that the only reason a pilot should be commissioned is so that people listen to them at the table?
It can't be competency. That doesn't come with rank. That comes from experience, learning and listening, not promotion.

You don’t believe that being of a lower rank may be detrimental when operating with O-4s and O-5s, when those folks don’t know you?  You don’t think those fine pilots deserve the same pay as their commissioned brothers and sisters?

Rank doesn’t give you competency.  But it gives you credibility, when there is no other context. Same thing when a Capt is invited to a meeting composed of Maj and LCol.  That person’s insight has a greater chance of being dismissed (rightly or wrongly) just because that person is a Capt. Rank also brings pay.

I don’t care they are commissioned or not to be honest.  All pilots need to be the same however.  Being not commissioned brings other issues such as who takes command positions and such.  Furthermore, the current non-commissioned pay scales would only exacerbate retention issues.
 

Good2Golf

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SupersonicMax said:
:2c: the

Rank doesn’t give you competency.  But it gives you credibility, when there is no other context. Same thing when a Capt is invited to a meeting composed of Maj and LCol.  That person’s insight has a greater chance of being dismissed (rightly or wrongly) just because that person is a Capt. Rank also brings pay.

I don’t care they are commissioned or not to be honest.  All pilots need to be the same however.  Being not commissioned brings other issues such as who takes command positions and such.  Furthermore, the current non-commissioned pay scales would only exacerbate retention issues.

This will be my last ‘off-topic’ post in this thread to Max, because there clearly are irreconcilable points of view, but I will make two points that you can have the last word about, and feel that you are right if you so wish:

1) Rank and competency....re: your view.  BS.  Straight up BS.  By way of example, that a CW5 was depended upon for his experienced position within West Wing and E-ring circles for an Op crucial to the country’s psyche indicates your lack of appreciation of experience vis a vis rank.

2) Hint: it’s not all about the money, Max. I’m sure a whole bunch of guys in the TF get paid notably less than you, yet view their calling to service as well as the slightly lesser pay totally acceptable to keep doing what there doing without any desire whatsoever to push much more paper and much less excitement doing the real deal...

:2c:
 

FJAG

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SupersonicMax said:
:2c: the
You don’t believe that being of a lower rank may be detrimental when operating with O-4s and O-5s, when those folks don’t know you?  You don’t think those fine pilots deserve the same pay as their commissioned brothers and sisters?

Rank doesn’t give you competency.  But it gives you credibility, when there is no other context. Same thing when a Capt is invited to a meeting composed of Maj and LCol.  That person’s insight has a greater chance of being dismissed (rightly or wrongly) just because that person is a Capt. Rank also brings pay.

I don’t care they are commissioned or not to be honest.  All pilots need to be the same however.  Being not commissioned brings other issues such as who takes command positions and such.  Furthermore, the current non-commissioned pay scales would only exacerbate retention issues.

I know we're a bit  :eek:ff topic: here but I don't buy that at all although I admit that the concept is pervasive all up and down the CoC in the CAF.

To me, rank has several functions of which, IMHO, leadership level, skill and technical supervision level, management level and pay level are probably the most obvious.

Each varies by degree. Leadership happens at both the NCO and commissioned officer level with the scope of the subordinates that are led varying up to a certain point. After that point (say MWO/CWO for NCOs and Col for commissioned officer) the function changes for many personnel from pure leadership to more management.

We also identify skill and technical supervision levels through rank regardless as to whether or not it involves true leadership. That too, however, changes at a certain point to management and probably at a lower rank level (say WO for NCOs and capt or major for commissioned officers.)

Pay level also works primarily by rank and time in rank but has nothing to do with any of the other three other than as a compensation / retention tool.

I think that the actual separation in career streams between NCOs and commissioned officers (besides its historical origin) has more to do with the fact that the commissioned stream is more attuned to develop the future senior management element of the force while the NCO stream is to develop the highly knowledgeable leadership element needed at the troop level.

I think that we have ignored for too long the very valuable service that can be provided by a highly trained core of technical experts / supervisors who do not necessarily need to develop high end leadership skills in order to provide high quality technical supervision. I keep looking at the US Army's criminal investigation branch which is made up of MP NCOs and WOs as investigators. MP commissioned officers (who are not investigators) manage the CID battalions. In Canada we craft some of that on through specialties like artillery instructors in gunnery and assistant instructors in gunnery but we don't have "specialist" ranks to deal with that.

IMHO having every pilot as a commissioned officer is entirely unnecessary. Pilots do not gain one iota of credibility as a result of being lieutenants or captains. Their credibility comes from having been trained to manoeuvre an aircraft through three dimensions. Their authority comes from the regulations that make them i/cs of their aircraft. If they need command authority over their ground crew then having them ranked as WOs would give them that. (Obviously that requires a different rank structure where the WO1 rank does not require initial progression through the NCO grades but to be one issued on completion of their technical/specialty training.) 

The Reg F Army has approximately 2,800 commissioned officers for 18,900 other ranks (1:6.75); the Navy has 1,230 commissioned officers for 6,900 other ranks (1:5.6) while the Air Force has 2,900 commissioned officers for 9,800 other ranks (1:3.37). That's roughly twice the rate as the Army and Navy. (we're not counting the myriad of folks employed in HQs etc outside the three commands)

One can only draw one of two conclusions from that: either the Air Force requires a lot of leadership and management at the top; or the quality of Air Force commissioned officers is so low that the Air Force needs a larger pool of lower ranked individuals to choose from.

Of course neither is true. Surprisingly, the ratio of rank distribution of Army and Air Force officers is almost exactly the same. It's the same for the Navy although there is a slightly higher upper rank ratio. Basically what we see is that the Air Force has no greater need for the development of high end managers than the Army or Air Force. What it does have is a rank structure, vis a vis of commissioned officer to other ranks, that is out of all proportion to the total size of the force that it must manage, lead or technically supervise. A faint notion of a credibility requirement at the captain and lieutenant level is imaginary / illusionary at best.

I don't blame the Air Force too much here. The problem is that pilots need to be properly paid to be retained and our pay system is singularly inept at rewarding technical competence and skill. Financial reward is for the most part tied to rank. We could conceivably create a much greater flight pay package to make up for that but we would still be left with the fact that unless you enroll as an officer you need to start at private which is pretty much a non-starter. If we want to create a proper career field for pilots then it needs to start with a structure akin to the US's which separates highly skilled technical functions in a separate WO rank stream.

A WO stream for the Air Force would be very useful and would remove for example the four year university requirement and would allow for a wider pilot training pipeline for the Air Force. The Air Force does not need more managers / leaders but more trained specialist whose career is dedicated to time-in-the-airframe rather than taking leadership / management courses and postings. Financial remuneration can always be adjusted off-rank to meet recruiting / retention issues.

There's an interesting and recent article about the US Air Force (which does not subscribe to the WO program the way that the other four services do [not sure yet where Space Force will stand on this]) and how it could be served by accepting flying WOs.

https://warontherocks.com/2019/05/unwarranted-reconsidering-the-air-force-warrant-officer/

:cheers:
 

SupersonicMax

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FJAG said:
Pilots do not gain one iota of credibility as a result of being lieutenants or captains. Their credibility comes from having been trained to manoeuvre an aircraft through three dimensions. Their authority comes from the regulations that make them i/cs of their aircraft. If they need command authority over their ground crew then having them ranked as WOs would give them that. (Obviously that requires a different rank structure where the WO1 rank does not require initial progression through the NCO grades but to be one issued on completion of their technical/specialty training.) 

I can tell you that rank is one (of many) measures of what I call "instant credibility".  If you are a Lieutenant-Colonel in a fighter squadron, it means you are a good fighter pilot and you succeeded.  Same thing for Weapon School Graduates.  That patch gives instant credibility.  Of course that credibility can be eroded when an individual does something stupid but without any context, it brings credibility. It's not just about the formal authority provided to pilots (through orders as you say). There is also an informal aspect and rank is part of it.  Not all pilots are equal. I have seen people (mostly from different services) being sidelined because of their rank, when they were highly qualified and competent.

FJAG said:
One can only draw one of two conclusions from that: either the Air Force requires a lot of leadership and management at the top; or the quality of Air Force commissioned officers is so low that the Air Force needs a larger pool of lower ranked individuals to choose from.

Or most of our pointy end trades are entirely staffed by officers, unlike the Army.

FJAG said:
I don't blame the Air Force too much here. The problem is that pilots need to be properly paid to be retained and our pay system is singularly inept at rewarding technical competence and skill. Financial reward is for the most part tied to rank. We could conceivably create a much greater flight pay package to make up for that but we would still be left with the fact that unless you enroll as an officer you need to start at private which is pretty much a non-starter. If we want to create a proper career field for pilots then it needs to start with a structure akin to the US's which separates highly skilled technical functions in a separate WO rank stream.

The US system is no better.  A WO makes on average 30% less than their commissioned officer counterpart.

FJAG said:
A WO stream for the Air Force would be very useful and would remove for example the four year university requirement and would allow for a wider pilot training pipeline for the Air Force. The Air Force does not need more managers / leaders but more trained specialist whose career is dedicated to time-in-the-airframe rather than taking leadership / management courses and postings. Financial remuneration can always be adjusted off-rank to meet recruiting / retention issues.

There is already no real requirement for a degree to be enrolled.  One can join under CEOTP and do a degree of their choosing on their own over the years.  I know a former CO (joined after degrees were mandatory for all officers) that did not have a degree. We need more leaders.  Just not the kind you are used to.  We need people to lead in the air, lead tactically.

FJAG said:
Financial remuneration can always be adjusted off-rank to meet recruiting / retention issues.

:rofl: Oh wait. You are serious. Given how reactive to those issues our system is, this is bound to fail.  Pilot pay adjustment as a retention tool have been discussed for the last 4 years. Crickets still. In the meantime, we lost a record number of pilots.  And our trade suffers.

FJAG said:
There's an interesting and recent article about the US Air Force (which does not subscribe to the WO program the way that the other four services do [not sure yet where Space Force will stand on this]) and how it could be served by accepting flying WOs.

You can do it much more easily using the existing structure. Have more incentive levels for the Capt rank with a higher terminal salary, comparable to what someone would make civi-side with a comparable level of experience (this will allow retention of technical expertise).  Have substantial pay jumps (if promoted) when people are in the promotion window to encourage competition for rank progression (ability to choose from a group of people for promotion rather than a limited number of people). Recognize technical expertise with allowances for specific qualifications.  Include flight pay into base pay. This way, when you are promoted and posted to a ground job, you do not make less than you were before.  Many of those staff jobs are important for the health of the trade. Others are important, at the strategic level, for the institution as a whole.

I am not sure what you'd get more by having a WO trade, with the same compensation package.
 
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