Flight officer

Flight officer

The title Flight Officer can refer to a functional (occupational) job title as an aircrew member or it can refer to a military rank previously used by the U.S. and the U.K.

Aircrew function

A flight officer in some terminology is the person on board an aircraft responsible for its navigation. The flight officer's responsibilities include planning the journey, advising the pilot while en route, and ensuring that hazards or obstacles are avoided. The position may also be referred to as the navigator.

In the United States Air Force, the Navigator Badge is earned by officers so qualified. Depending on the aircraft and job responsibilities, navigators in the Air Force may also be referred to as Weapon systems officer (WSO), or Electronic Warfare Officer (EWO). Additionally, the USAF now designates all navigators as Combat Systems Officers (CSOs), blending former navigator and EWO tracks into one career field. In the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps, the equivalent position is known as a Naval Flight Officer (NFO).

In the Royal Air Force, the term “navigator” is always used for the holder of this position in aircraft, including the backseat crew member in two-seater aircraft. Like pilots, navigators are always commissioned officers. They wear the single-wing aircrew brevet, with a capital ‘N’ in the centre.

Military rank


Flight Officer was a U.S. Army rank used in the Army's Air Corps equivalent to Warrant Officer Junior Grade which is equivalent to today's Warrant Officer (WO1) appointed by the Secretary of War to the Army Air Corps and assigned to the United States Army Air Force from about 1942 to flight rated pilots, navigators, bombardiers and glider pilots during World War II. Additionally, some B-29 Flight Engineers were also awarded this rank. Officers who successfully passed air qualification training remained at their old rank, but enlisted and aviation cadet trainees were promoted to Flight Officer. Flight Officers were either promoted to commissioned officer ranks during the course of the war or were discharged after the end of WW 2.


The rank of Flight Officer was re-instituted by the US civilian auxiliary Civil Air Patrol to the United States Air Force in the mid-1980s. The ranks of Flight Officer, Technical Flight Officer and Senior Flight Officer are given to Senior Members between the ages of 18 and 21. Requirements for promotion to each grade is the generally the same as for promotion to CAP Second Lieutenant, First Lieutenant, and Captain, respectively.


Flight Officer was also the equivalent rank to Flight Lieutenant in the Women's Royal Australian Air Force British Women's Auxiliary Air Force (WAAF), Women's Royal Air Force (WRAF) (until 1968) and Princess Mary's Royal Air Force Nursing Service (PMRAFNS) (until 1980).

ee also

*Naval Flight Officer
*Wind triangle

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