If you are looking for an Air Force enlisted job where you will be an integral part of an aircrew, then you should definitely consider being an Air Force Flight Engineer.
Those who qualify to be an Air Force Flight Engineer will work in a position that demands attention to detail and also enables them to fly all over the world.
Among the many duties that an Air Force Flight Engineer is expected to carry out are the following:
- Doing pre and post flight safety checks on their assigned aircraft
- Handling in-flight instrumentation, control, and warning system monitoring.
- Be involved in preflight engine startup and post-flight engine shutdown
- Helping ground maintenance personnel with any engine tests that need to be done
- Perform aircraft weight and balance calculations
- Controlling their assigned aircraft’s engines during a flight in a way that maximizes fuel efficiency
- To become a Jack-of-all-trades when performing flight operations at remote airfields
- Fill out the proper forms that are required to be done in conjunction with the above-mentioned tasks
This Air Force AFSC will appeal to anyone that likes to travel and can handle the demands of overseeing all of the critical processes on their assigned aircraft.
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Requirements and Qualifications
Before getting started with the requirements for thisAir Force specialty, it must be noted that first term enlisted personnel are not currently eligible to enter this career field.
That is unless they possess a valid Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) Flight Engineers Certificate, FAA Aircraft & Power Plant License or an Aircraft Maintenance Technicians license.
That means that first term enlisted members must gain experience to the 5 – 7 level in such other Air Force career fields as an in-flight refueling specialist before being able to cross train into the Air Force Flight Engineer specialty.
Your recruiter will be able to tell you more about the several AFSC’s for first-term airmen that provide the necessary pathway to becoming an Air Force Flight Engineer.
With that being said, here are the different requirements that must be fulfilled before one can enter into training to become an Air Force Flight Engineer:
- High School Diploma
- GED with 15 college credits
- Minimum ASVAB Score of 57 in the general category
- Must be between the ages of 17 and 39
- Have normal color vision
- Have normal depth perception
- Height must not be less than 64 inches or more than 77 inches
- Be able to lift 70-pounds
- Completion of 8.5 weeks of Basic Military Training
- First-term enlisted must possess an (FAA) Flight Engineers Certificate, FAA Aircraft & Power Plant License or an Aircraft Maintenance Technicians license
- Second term enlisted or more must have become proficient to the 5 to 7 level in an associated AFAC
- Must have the ability to be deployed anywhere in the world at a moment’s notice
- This AFAC requires the ability to obtain a security clearance up to the secret level
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Training and Career Path
Becoming an Air Force Flight Engineer is much different than most other Air Force specialties.
That’s because it not only involves attaining prior experience in a precursor Air Force specialty, but it also requires several ancillary forms of training related to the flight side the job.
Once an airman has met all of the other eligibility requirements, they then must successfully complete these other forms of training to become an Air Force Flight Engineer:
Basic Flight Engineer (BFE) School
This phase of the training is held at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX. Training lasts 5 to 6 months.
Flight Related Training
This is training an enlisted member must complete in order to become part of a flight crew.
- Enlisted Aircrew Undergraduate Course
This course is undertaken at Lackland AFB in San Antonio, TX and lasts just over 2 weeks.
- Combat Survival Training Course
This is a 17-day course held at Fairchild AFB near Spokane, Washington.
- Water Survival-Parachuting Course (For fixed-wing flight engineers only)
Conducted at Pensacola NAS in Pensacola, FL. The course is approximately 4 days long.
- Non-Parachuting Water Survival Course (for helicopter flight engineers only)
This is a 2-day course that’s held at Fairchild AFB near Spokane, Washington.
There may be some other short training schools that an Air Force Flight Engineer must attend depending on their specific job or aircraft type.
How Much Are They Paid?
This is one of the highest paying career fields that an Air Force enlisted member can enter into.
Part of that is due to the fact that many who enter into this career field will have already been in the service for many years. Either that or they will possess skills which they will be compensated for with increased starting rank.
Because there are so many different ways that one can enter into this Air Force career specialty, the possible starting pay rates are all over the board.
At the very least, even a first term airman with some applicable civilian skill should start out at as an Airman First Class (E-3) at $1,982.27/Month.
Most likely, a second term airman who cross trains into being an Air Force Flight Engineer would have their pay somewhere in this area:
|Over 4 years||$2,634||$2,891||$3,222|
|Over 6 years||$2,747||$3,094||$3,355|
|Over 8 years||$2,747||$3,307||$3,653|
One has to consider that these are just the figures for base pay. Air Force enlisted personnel are also entitled to housing, food and other forms of assistance if they live off of the base.
A big bonus that you get with any Air Force job is the fact that all health expenses are completely taken care of free of charge.
Other forms of compensation can add significantly to what an Air Force Flight Engineer can take home too. These include:
- Flight pay
- Temporary Duty allotment
- Hazardous duty pay
- And more
What’s Life Like as an Air Force Flight Engineer?
Being an Air Force Flight Engineer can definitely be one of the most fulfilling and exciting jobs in the Air Force for an enlisted person. This is especially true if one is single.
It’s a job where a large majority of the time an airman can expect to be on the go to several different areas around the world.
Here are some of the peacetime benefits that an Air Force Flight Engineer is entitled to take advantage of:
- The opportunity to participate in based sponsored sports and recreation
- The ability to take advantage of low-cost on-base shopping facilities
- Weekly days off and 30-days leave with pay each year
- There will be extensive temporary duty travel which will enable an Air Force Flight Engineer to see much of the US and the rest of the world.
Enlisted personnel will also be eligible for college assistance both while on active duty and after their time in the service has come to an end.
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Of course, there is a reason that Air Force Flight Engineers get hazardous duty pay at certain times too.
Their assigned aircraft can be deployed anywhere in the world at any time to a potential hotspot.
One has to consider whether they are up to that or not when deciding to go after this flight position.
Check out this Youtube video which does a pretty good job of explaining what the job is all about:
Civilian Career Opportunities
Unfortunately, flight engineers are becoming a dying breed in the civilian job environment.
That’s because so many modern aircraft no longer require the presence of a flight engineer on board.
Based on this, going into this job with the desire to be a career airman is always the best option.
An Air Force Flight Engineer is not totally without options in the civilian world though.
Many air cargo carriers fly older jets that still require a flight engineer position. Those include:
- United Parcel Service Atlanta, Georgia
- FedEx Memphis, Tennessee
- DHL Bonn, Germany
There are many opportunities to be a flight engineer with many smaller cargo carriers based in both the USA and abroad too.
A civilian flight engineer can expect to make an average salary of around $89,309-$103,110 per year. This can vary greatly based on experience.
Those who are flight engineers on helicopters also will have some civilian opportunities to be a flight engineer.
There are some civilian companies and government entities that still use heavy lift helicopters that are required to have a flight engineer on board those aircraft.
These positions are mainly with companies that do such things as heavy-duty construction or heavy lift cargo moving.
As was mentioned earlier, an Air Force Flight Engineer must also be able to obtain a secret security clearance.
This type of security clearance in itself has value to civilian and government employers. Here are some of those:
- Boeing Aerospace Company Chicago, IL
- General Dynamics Corporation Falls Church, VA
- Raytheon Company Waltham, MA
- Department of Homeland Security Washington, DC
Check out this article in the ‘Military Times’ to learn more about how a secret security clearance can benefit you when looking for a job in the civilian world:
Being a flight engineer will also normally see that person gain the ability to actually pilot certain aircraft over time.
They can then use this knowledge to help them gain a civilian pilots license much more easily.
This could also lead to future employment opportunities as a commercial airline pilot.
References / Resources
- 5 Worst Jobs in the Air Force - February 4, 2021
- 4 Steps For Visiting An Air Force Recruiter Near You - May 26, 2020
- Air Force Safety Specialist (1S0X1) - March 13, 2020