Non-commissioned service

Types of engagement

Personnel joining the RAF’s non-commissioned cadre in the ground trades usually enter on what is called a notice engagement for a period of 9 years Regular service followed by 6 years in the RAF Reserve.

An open engagement of 22 years service is available only to personnel joining the Princess Mary’s Royal Air Force Nursing Service.

Extensions of service

Extensions of service are available to personnel on application to the manning authorities to complete 12 or 15 years reckonable service, followed by 6 years in the RAF Reserve. Such applications will be considered in the light of manning requirements in each trade. In some circumstances, the Service may invite personnel to extend their service to meet manning requirements.

Promotion and re-engagement

Promotion is either substantive or acting (the latter paid or unpaid) and this section concentrates on substantive promotion. Should individuals be considered for acting rank, different rules apply and it is recommended that advice is sought from the unit personnel staffs so that the full implications of acting rank are understood. Appointment to acting rank is no guarantee of subsequent promotion to the substantive rank.

Substantive promotion up to jnr tech is authorised by commanding officers on the basis of time and trade qualifications appropriate to each rank and trade. Where appropriate, a commanding officer can defer promotion for up to 3 months.

Promotion to LAC depends upon successful completion of a course of basic training or a successful remustering examination.

Promotion to SAC depends upon a pass in Trade Ability Test (TAT) No 1 and completion of 12 month’s satisfactory service.

From April 2010 LCpl is to be introduced as a new rank available to those in the RAF Regiment (only).

Promotion to Jnr Tech is granted on the successful completion of the appropriate further training courses for which suitably qualified SACs are selected by the RAF manning organisation. In some trades, individuals may pass out as jnr techs at the end of a basic training course.

For promotion to cpl and beyond, the RAF arranges annual promotion selection boards in each rank and trade where a requirement for promotion has been identified. All personnel eligible to be considered by the board are considered on merit for promotion to the rank of cpl and above, although some time promotion exists within certain trades.

Personnel who are selected for promotion to the substantive rank of cpl will be offered primary re-engagement to complete 22 years service or to reach their 40/18 point (age 40 or 18 years reckonable service, whichever is the later). Where personnel are unable to complete 22 years service by the age of 55, service to age 55 may be offered.

Personnel selected for promotion to the substantive ranks of sgt and chf tech will be offered secondary re-engagement to complete Length of Service 30 years (LOS 30), if not already on this engagement. If personnel are unable to complete LOS 30 by the age of 55, service to age 55 may be offered.

Personnel selected for promotion to the substantive rank of FS or WO are offered secondary re-engagement to age 55 years if not already on this engagement.

There are exceptions to these general rules and, if you are serving in List 1 trades, TGs 15 and 16, are a cpl or sgt in the PTI trade, a sgt in the ATC trade, or a SNCO in the FC trade, a modified further service system applies. AP 3376 Vol 1 Chapter 2 refers.

Personnel selected for promotion to the ranks of cpl, sgt and FS will be required to complete command and management training courses appropriate to their rank and trade before they are promoted to the higher substantive rank.

Individuals who have completed 19 years or more service or are serving to age 55 may, during their last 3 years of service, apply or be invited to continue in the Service for a maximum of 3 years per application. This is known as Continuance. Such cases are considered on a case-by-case basis in light of the manning requirements in each trade at the time.

Discharge or transfer to the Reserve (termination)

The rules for termination of service for non-commissioned personnel are contained in Queens Regulations Chapter 10, available on the Intranet. They are too complex to detail in this guide and personnel wishing to discuss options for leaving the Service, including PVR, are encouraged to contact their unit personnel staffs.

In general terms, personnel on notice engagements are able to give 18 months notice to leave the Service, having completed 18 months reckonable service.

Once an airman or airwoman has completed 9 years reckonable service, they may apply to PVR by giving 18 months notice.

Applications for PVR are considered with consideration to the manning requirements in the rank and trade of the applicant, and minimum waiting periods are applied and published by the manning authorities on a regular basis.  These waiting periods can exceed 12 months in exceptional circumstances.

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