South African Air Force, SAAF Aircrew – Pilot or Navigator Recruitment 2023-2024… General entry requirements, when to apply, how to apply, application form pdf, application deadline, and selection process 2023.
Applications complying with the minimum requirements will be subjected to further screening. Candidates identified will then be invited to partake in a selection process.
The content of this section is for general information purposes only. This website does not actively recruit on behalf of the SAAF / SANDF and all applicants are encouraged to contact the relevant Recruitment office directly.
The South African Air Force (SAAF) offers a number of varied and exciting careers, both in the air and on the ground. What would you like to do?
- Aircrew – Pilot or Navigator – CLICK HERE for application details
- Aircrew – Other – CLICK HERE for application details
- Command and Control – CLICK HERE for application details
- Aviation Maintenance – CLICK HERE for application details
- Engineering / Apprenticeship – CLICK HERE for application details
- General Maintenance – CLICK HERE for application details
- Support – CLICK HERE for application details
- Reserve Squadrons – CLICK HERE for application details
So, you’ve decided that you’d like to join the SAAF?
Personnel is the most important resource that the SAAF whose success is largely dependent on the extent to which its members are developed and utilized. The airforce considers it essential to recruit young volunteers who are prepared to serve in the air force for a limited period of time or to remain in a lifelong appointment.
Selection for aircrew training in the South African Air Force is rigorous, with only the best candidates eventually receiving their wings. Of approximately 4 000 who apply every year, only about 30 will be chosen.
Do you have what it takes?.
To be selected for the ‘preselection phase’, the following minimum requirements for pilots and navigators must be complied with:
- RSA Citizen (No dual citizenship);
- Preferably single;
- 18–24 Years – Completed Grade 12 or N3 (Technical) with 6 subjects of which two must be languages Mathematics and Physical Science minimum (Level – 4);
- 22 – 26 Years if in possession of a relevant Tertiary qualification (Degree, N Diploma or N4, N5, N6 prescripts) completed Grade 12 with (Level – 4) Mathematics and Physical Science;
- Members with Commercial Pilots Licence (CPL) not older than 24 years of age with Mathematics and Physical Science (Level 4)
- Currently busy with or successfully completed Grade 12;
- Mathematics and Physical Science requirements as detailed below;
- Pass English at Grade 12 or an equivalent level;
- Be 100% medically fit for flying (i.e., classified G1K1, such test to be conducted as part of the selection process);
- Have 6/6 vision without correction (ie, no spectacles, laser correction or contact lenses);
- Not have any hearing impairment (have no need for hearing aids);
- Minimum height: 1600mm, Maximum height: 1900mm
- Buttock-heel length 1 035 mm to 1 343 mm;
- Body weight between 53 kg and 102 kg;
- Sitting eye height 730 mm to 896 mm, sitting knee height 490 mm to 653 mm;
- Must be willing to relocate and to participate in deployments both in South Africa and abroad if required to do so;
- Must not have a criminal record; and
- Be recommended by a selection board.
A candidate’s current academic performance will determine whether he/she is eligible to either apply for the post of the Pupil Pilot/Navigator training or whether he/she will have to successfully complete the DoD Youth Foundation Training Programme (YFDT PROG) before commencing with flying training.
To be considered for direct entry to the Flying Training Programme, candidates must have full Matric exemption of which they have passed English and a second language, Mathematics and Science as described below.
Mathematics and Physical Science requirements
Candidates must have obtained any one of the following:
- National Senior Certificate (Grade 12): level 4
- N4: 60% or higher
- N5 or N6 or University first year: 50% or higher
Period of service
Three year Core Service System (CSS) contract for all pupil pilots or navigators, including Basic Military Training, Officers Formative Course, Military Certificate Course (at the Military Academy), Ground School and Flying phase.
When they qualify as pilots or navigators in the three-year period (wings date), they receive a thirteen-year contract to serve as a pilot or navigator in the Air Force.
How to Apply
Click on each of the links to download the application form pdf.
- Pilot / Navigator – Information brochure (PDF 143kb)
- Pilot – Application form (PDF 105kb)
- Navigator – Application form (PDF 105kb)
- Other Careers -Information brochure (PDF 176kb)
- Engineer Careers -Application form (PDF 123kb)
- Technical Careers -Application form (PDF 123kb)
- Other Careers -Application form (PDF 123kb)
- Download the free Adobe
- Acrobat Reader
SAAF Selection Process
If you comply with the above requirements, you may apply throughout the year and be earmarked for further selection. This will mainly depend on the need to train new pilots at the time. Selected applicants are informed according to requirement and will be invited to partake in the selection process in Pretoria for approximately 10 days.
The selection process for pilots and navigators especially consists of seven phases. Candidates are divided into groups of 50 each and all members go through these seven phases:
– Arrival of Group and Orientation
– Anthropometric (practical) measurements
– Psychometric evaluation
– Psychomotor evaluation
– Panel Interview
– Aviation Medical
– Consolidated Selection Board
All applicants will be required to undergo aptitude and general cognitive ability assessments. Only candidates who succeed will be allowed to proceed to the next selection phase.
A hand-eye co-ordination test will be conducted on candidates who have passed the psychometric evaluation. Those who pass will proceed to the next selection phase.
Candidates will then be interviewed by a selection panel comprising of senior military personnel from the Air Force and other staff divisions. Taking into account the candidate’s performance thus far, the following additional variables will serve as criteria for evaluation during the interview: motivation, perseverance, purposefulness, creativity, officer potential, knowledge, adaptability and analytical ability.
Candidates who are recommended for Pilot or Navigator training by the above-mentioned selection panel will then be subjected to a thorough medical examination at the Institute for Aviation Medicine (IAM).
Consolidated Selection Board:
A board comprising senior military personnel representing the different flying system groups will attend whereby the successful candidates will be determined.
Candidates are only informed after the Consolidated Selection Board has made its final approval and the Chief of the Airforce has approved the recommended name. An offer of employment will be extended to the most successful candidates, taking into account equal opportunity and affirmative action programmes within the Department of Defence.
Should the applicant be successful in this phase and be selected for pilot or navigator training, they will then start their military training.
Front and backseat fliers (a primer)
The pilot flies the plane from the front seat, while from the backseat the navigator directs it to it’s destination or target and provides guidance to the pilot on the use of information received from sensors. Together they form a close knit team.
When aircraft were first used in the World War One. the cavalry was also being phased out. Pilots were needed and the rationale was that there were many cavalry officers who, because they could ride a horse, should be able to fly an aircraft. Pilot selection is far more advanced today.
To be a pilot requires that you comply with the most stringent level of physical fitness and health standards, fall within the body dimension and mass limits that are dictated to by the ergonomics of modern tactical aircraft.
You also have to have the intellectual potential required, of which scholastic achievements in mathematics and science are good indicators. Your psychological make up, emotive state, spatial orientation, hand eye coordination are all important.
The two-man crew concept can be traced back to the early biplanes and fighters of the First World War. In those days the back-seater held the title of rear gunner or observer. With the introduction of new navigation equipment, the role or the navigator was crystallized.
The navigator has become charged with increasingly sophisticated systems that can not only navigate, but that also detect other aircraft and threats and can deliver weapons precisely on the target. A navigator’s skills are now honed on understanding what the array of cockpit sensors are telling him or her. Working with the pilot to use this information to the best advantage requires teem effort and sharing the same aim – a successful outcome to the task
The navigator in the transport or maritime role has to get the aircraft to where it is needed and then assumes a tactical role, such as conducing search patterns.
The requirements for a navigator are similar to that of the pilot, with slightly more emphasis placed on intellect and less on hand eye coordination. What makes the navigator different from the pilot? The correct aptitude towards being part of a team and not team leader is essential, while diplomacy in putting ideas into the pilots head that he or she eventually believes he or she thought of it first is very necessary.
All pilots and navigators in the South African Air Force are appointed as officers, in order that the broadest base possible is available from which to select commanders. You also have to display the desired attributes to be developed as an officer to be selected as pilot and navigator
The development and training of a pilot and navigator starts with Basic Military Training, followed by an Officer Formative Course. Flying training starts with a ground school phase, and in some instances with preparatory training for those who have the intellectual potential but lack an adequate foundation in subjects such as mathematics, science and English, the language medium of flying training. Pilots then move on to the flying phase, while navigators continue receiving academic subjects throughout their course.
The total time to qualify to “wings’ standard is normally three years, after which pilots and navigators are transferred to operational units to convert onto the type of aircraft and role for which they are most suited. Experience is gained by moving from one aircraft type to a more advanced aircraft in the same role.
Phases of pilot / navigator training
Basic Military Training (BMT)
Once a candidate has been accepted for aircrew training, they will undergo 22 weeks of Basic Military Training at the Air Force Gymnasium Boston (at AFB Hoedspruit).
The following subjects will be presented: drill, military law, military ceremonies, buddy aid, physical training, soldiership, saluting and compliments, weapon skills and musketry training.
Officers Forming Course
On the completion of Basic Military Training, pupil pilots and learner navigators (as Candidate Officers) will be transferred to the SA Air Force College, Thaba Tswane (Pretoria) for a period of 19 weeks in order to complete the Officers Forming Course.
The following subjects will be presented: leadership and management, officership, military studies, musketry training (9mm pistol), environmental studies, communication and decision making.
Subjects currently presented by 80 Air Navigation School at AFB Ysterplaat include Basic Parachute Course (does not include jumps), first aid course, land survival training and sea survival training.
Members who are recommended for preparatory training will be transferred to the Military Academy on the West Coast (Saldanha) for their preparatory phase which lasts approximately 6 months. Subjects currently presented include geography, science, mathematics and English.
Military Certificate Course
All pupil pilots and learner navigators will complete a Military Certificate before commencing flying training. The course is offered at the Military Academy in Saldanha and includes all Flying Theory. On completion of the course the student will be credited with the equivalent of first year tertiary studies.
Ground School and Flying Phase
On successful completion of the survival, preparatory training phases (if recommended) and the Military Certificate Course, learner navigators will be transferred to 80 Air Navigator School at AFB Ysterplaat and pupil pilots will commence their flying training at an external flying school for their initial flying training.
The next step to becoming a pilot or navigator!
SAAF Contact Details
For more information, please contact the SAAF Recruitment Office:
SA Air Force Headquarters
(Directorate Human Resource Services)
Private Bag X199
Fax: (012) 312 2138
Phone: (012) 312 2148 / 2609
Department of Defence Career website: www.careers.mil.za
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