When to Apply for SAAF Recruitment 2023/2024

When to Apply for SAAF Recruitment 2023/2024.

This article contains information about the South African Air Force (SAAF) SAAF Recruitment, How to Apply, the Selection Process, Application Pdf Download When to Apply and the Application Closing Date for SAAF Recruitment 2023-2024.


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.

When to Apply For SAAF Recruitment

Recruitment of prospective SAAF student pilots and navigators is an annual process. The process is initiated by advertisements in the Sunday Times, Rapport and City Press around February each year. A closing date is given. No applications are processed prior to the closing date i.e., if you apply in January, your application will be held over and processed as part of the annual batch. There are no exceptions unless a special drive for affirmative action candidates is required.


The process followed after closing date involves the initial sifting of anything up to five thousand applications. Here the chancers are eliminated, as are job seekers, and those who do not meet the criteria called for in the advert or application form, eg no maths or science, overweight, no matric, not SA citizens, etc.

The next step are those identified for initial psychometric tests. The potential candidate is contacted for the first time and told to report for these tests and others. The streaming process continues, tests, interviews, initial selection and aviation medical until the final thirty candidates (dependant on SAAF requirement) are selected.

Please note that the above is a summary of the selection process which and can take over a year. For example, the 2018 year application process should commence at the 2018 closing date, the selection process in 2019, the Basic Military Training and SAAF orientation courses 2020 and flying 2021. Scholars are encouraged to apply in the Grade 11 year with selection during the Grade 12 year. The successful candidate will then join the SAAF straight from school.

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Why wait till the next recruitment drive?

Instead of waiting for the advert to appear, you could also send your CV to the SAAF now. They should keep it on file until the next recruitment drive.

Suggested items to include in your CV include:

  • Full name
  • Postal address
  • Telephone numbers
  • ID number
  • Marital status
  • Height
  • Weight
  • Gender
  • Race
  • Contact details
  • Whether you want to be a pilot or navigator
  • Current tertiary level
  • Subjects, symbols and HG/SG/other
  • A copy of your ID book

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

Psychometric Evaluation:
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.

Psychomotor assessment:
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.

Panel Interview:
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.

Medical Examination:
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.

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Phases of Pilot / Navigator 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.

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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.

Survival Training

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.

Preparatory Phase

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
Air Command
(Directorate Human Resource Services)
Recruitment Office
Private Bag X199

Fax: (012) 312 2138

Phone: (012) 312 2148 / 2609

Department of Defence Career website:






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