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HistoryFlight Engineer HistoryHistory

Circa 2002

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...NNS020313-04. Soar to New Heights as a Navy Flight Engineer..." http://www.chinfo.navy.mil/navpalib/news/navnews/nns02/nns020314.txt [25OCT2004]

NNS020313-04. Soar to New Heights as a Navy Flight Engineer
By Chief of Naval Personnel Public Affairs

WASHINGTON (NNS) -- If you're looking for more responsibility, seeking exposure to state-of-the-art naval aviation technology and training, and are ready for a challenge, then becoming a flight engineer (FE) could be the right flight path for you.

FEs are responsible for flight safety. They operate engines and aircraft systems, and troubleshoot and correct malfunctions in flight.

Flight Engineer School is nine months of labor-intensive learning. Before they're ready for this training, students attend aircrew school for approximately five-weeks. Prospective FEs must also successfully complete Survival Evasion Resistance and Escape (SERE) training before or after FE school. In addition, students have five weeks of classes in intensive systems knowledge.

So, why would aviation Sailors want this kind of challenge?

"While stationed with VP-30 (Patrol Squadron), I worked on plane engines. The P-3 (Orion aircraft) is different on the ground than when it's flying," explained Aviation Machinist's Mate 2nd Class William Polan, currently attending flight engineering school at NAS Jacksonville, Florida.

"As you progress and interact more with the aircrew, it just seems like a natural progression to become a flight engineer," the 22-year-old Sailor added.

Sailors receive their aircrew wings out of school; however, they still work on personal qualification standards (PQS) for up to one year once they return to the fleet under the wing of a senior FE.

The P-3 Orion community is looking for responsible and motivated Sailors to commit to the Flight Engineer program. In previous years, only E-5 and above Sailors were eligible for the training. The program is now open to E-4s.

Aviation machinist's mate (AD), aviation electrician (AE), aviation structural mechanic (AM), aviation safety equipment (AME) and aviation ordnanceman (AO) are source ratings for the FE program, but the program also welcomes fleet conversions.

Sailors in over-manned ratings such as aviation boatswain's mate fuel (ABF) and aviation boatswain's mate aircraft handling (ABH) can convert to a flight engineer source rating to increase their promotion opportunity as an FE. If qualified, converting Sailors could be automatically promoted to petty officer second class after FE school through selected conversion and reenlistment (SCORE) or selected training and reenlistment (STAR).

Sailors should know that the FE rating is not for the weak hearted or those who aren't task-oriented. P-3s are anti-submarine and maritime surveillance aircraft, meaning flights at levels of 200 feet above water.

An FE's job is thrilling, but also intimidating. It involves long hours for pre-flight, post-flight and actual flying time. The reward is seeing the end result of your work -- knowing that you have successfully and safely brought the plane and her crew home, sitting right between the pilot and co-pilot.

Involved in every part of a flight from fixing it on the ground to bringing it back down, flight engineers need to have a strong desire and commitment to earn the 8251 NEC.

Aside from the personal rewards of flying, flight engineers are well compensated. Special Duty Assignment Pay (SDAP) is $110 dollars per month, which is double the amount received in FY00. Another entitlement is Career Enlisted Flyer Incentive Pay (CEFIP), which is paid to career flyers such as FEs, with the amount based on their years of aviation service.

CEFIP rates were recently increased with NAVADMIN 055/02. For zero to four years of aviation service (YAS) the monthly CEFIP amount is $150. The maximum amount is $300 for over 14 YAS. More money is available in re-enlistment bonuses depending on the Sailor's rating.

FEs can also take advantage of shore-based sea duty consisting of deployment sites around the world. It's likely a Sailor will travel the world during a career as a FE. On the East Coast, squadrons deploy to NAS Keflavik, Iceland, NS Roosevelt Roads, PR, Panama and NAS Sigonella, Sicily. Deployment sites from the West Coast include Japan, NSF Diego Garcia and branching out all over the Pacific.

"It's an accomplishment to get out of school," said Polan. But the young Fredericksburg, Va., Sailor isn't stopping there. "I plan to get my PQS (professional qualification standards) to become an instructor after some time in the fleet."

For more information on becoming a flight engineer contact Lt. Cmdr. Matt Zolla, aviation technical and aircrew enlisted community manager at DSN 225-3812 or (703) 695-3812. For details on STAR and SCORE, see your command career counselor.

For additional information on Flight Engineer School and VP-30, go to http://www.cnet.navy.mil/vp30home/dept/train/fe.htm.

Circa 1930

HistoryA BIT OF HISTORY: "...The origins of the flight engineer date back to the 1930s, when large aircraft of the era began to make their long transoceanic flights. The engineer was responsible for maintaining power settings, pressurization and other subsystems, leaving the pilots free to concen- trate on other aspects of flying the aircraft..." WebSite: AllHands http://www.mediacen.navy.mil/pubs/allhands/aug00/pg34.htm [25OCT2004]

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