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Basic Program Requirements for Aircrew

Navy Aircrewman Program NOS A500

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Published: August 12, 2009
Updated: December 2, 2019

Navy Aircrew Wings

Navy Aircrew Wings

The Aircrewman Program is a six-year enlistment program guaranteeing an initial flying assignment as a flight crewmember in fixed wing or helicopter aircraft and provides for training via various Class “A” Schools for a specific service rating within the Naval Aircrewman (AW) general rating. You will undergo some of the most demanding physical training offered by the military services in this program. You must volunteer for flying duty, be capable of passing a Class II swim test, and pass an aviation flight physical. You must be made aware that your entrance physical examination will be verified for flight qualifications at Recruit Training Command and Naval Aircrewman Candidate School (NACCS).

QUALIFICATIONS. You must meet all enlistment eligibility requirements, and the following additional requirements.

You must have a minimum score of VE+AR+MK+MC=210 or VE+AR+MK+AS=210. Your ASVAB scores will be reviewed upon classification at NACCS to ensure further qualification for a specific source rating.
You must be 30 years of age or less at the time of accession (date you leave for boot-camp).
Physical Fitness
While in Delayed Entry Program, but prior to shipping, Aircrew candidates must pass the Navy’s Physical Readiness Test (PRT) with a score of satisfactory-medium (Good) for your age and gender (refer to chart from OPNAVINST 6110.1). Aircrew candidates shall sign a Hold Harmless Agreement prior to being administered the PRT.
Drug Usage
Use of illegal or controlled substances is cause for application disapproval due to the inherently hazardous nature of this program. Drug waivers will be considered on a case-by-case basis.
Must be a U.S. citizen.
Must be a high school graduate.
Eyes and Vision
Normal color and depth perception. Vision must correct to 20/20 in both eyes and correction must be worn.
Hearing Standards
In accordance with MANMED P-117, Article 15-92, applicants must meet the hearing standards for Student Naval Aviator (SNA) as follows;

Navy Aircrew Hearing Standards
Aircrew Hearing Standards
Frequency (hz) Decibel (dB)
500 25
1000 25
2000 25
3000 45
4000 55
  • No speech impediment: You will test for “reading aloud” if you have a speech impediment or if you have a history of speech therapy or facial fracture. The “Banana Oil” test will be utilized as required in accordance with MANMED P-117 Article 15-95.
  • Weight: You must meet aviation duty minimum and maximum nude body weights are 103 pounds and 245 pounds respectively.
  • Other Factors: Hay fever, asthma, bee sting/food allergy reaction and chronic motion sickness are disqualifying.

Those applying for aviation programs are held to strict physical standards and therefore are less likely to be recommended for program waivers.

SECURITY CLEARANCE. You must have citizenship and character requirements to be granted a SECRET clearance and meet reliability standards for assignment to the Personnel Reliability Program (PRP as specified in SECNAVINST 5510.30). A complete PRP screen is not required for enlistment.

AW Rating Badge insignia

AW Rating Badge Insignia

Aircrew Navy Occupational Specialty (NOS) Codes. Men and Women enlisted in the Aircrew program will be assigned to one of the following occupational specialties within the Naval Aircrewman (NOS A500; FTS NOS J150) general rating (active duty and Full Time Support (FTS)): Aircrewman Helicopter (NOS A510), Aircrewman Operator (NOS A520), Aircrewman Mechanical (NOS A530; FTS NOS J154), or Aircrewman Avionics (NOS A550). Assignment to a specific class “A” school for a service rating within the program will be made while assigned to Naval Aircrew Candidate School (NACCS) and will be based on the applicant’s test scores, personal desires, needs of the Navy, and continued eligibility for the Aircrew program.
TRAINING CYCLE. Trainees are normally assigned to Class “A” School immediately after completion of NACCS. The normal training cycle is:

  1. Recruit Training (Great Lakes, IL)
  2. Naval Aircrew Candidate School (Pensacola, FL)
  3. Class “A” School (Pensacola, FL)
  4. Survival Evasion Resistance Escape (SERE) School (San Diego, CA or Brunswick, ME)
  5. Fleet Replacement Squadron (FRS) various locales)
  6. Initial squadron assignment (various locales)

Naval Aircrewman Mechanical (Active NOS A530; FTS NOS J154)
The AWF are members of a fixed wing integrated tactical crew aboard C-2, C-9, C-12, C-20, C-37, C-40, C-130, E-6, and P-3 aircraft. They perform primary in-flight and ground duties as aircraft Flight Engineer/Crew Chief, Loadmaster, Reel Operator, and Aircrew Readiness Manager. AWFs perform aircraft maintenance, weight and balance (W&B) calculations, and aircraft systems rigging, Aircrew administration, Flight/Ground training, cargo movement, Medical Evacuations (MEDEVAC), passenger transport, small arms, and Joint Special Warfare operations. They contribute directly to operations for the purposes of attaining and maintaining the squadron’s aircrew qualifications and certifications, and are knowledgeable of all aircraft systems, passenger and cargo handling, safety procedures and equipment, federal and military regulations for passenger transport, emergency procedures, and aircraft equipment.
Naval Aircrewman (Operator) (NOS A520)
The AWO produce intelligence products for aircrews in support of operations and tactical missions worldwide. They detect, analyze, classify, and track surface and subsurface contacts. AWOs operate an advanced sonar system utilizing sonobuoys, radar, Electronic Support Measures (ESM), Magnetic Anomaly Detector (MAD), Identification Friend or Foe/Selective Identification Feature (IFF/SIF), and Infrared Detector (IR). They perform aircrew duties that support mission planning, classified material handling, and training. They handle ordnance, inspect acoustic station equipment, and operate mission equipment such as: advanced imaging multi-spectral sensors, radar for safety of flight, and hand-held cameras.
Naval Aircrewman (Helicopter) (NOS A510)
The AWS are members of multi-mission helicopter integrated tactical crews. They perform Search And Rescue (SAR) operations, Airborne Mine Countermeasure (AMCM) operations utilizing sonar, magnetic, mechanical, and acoustic minesweeping systems and logistics support. AWSs perform aircrew operations administration, flight and ground training, internal and external cargo movement, Medical Evacuations (MEDEVAC), passenger transport, aerial gunnery, small arms handling, Naval Special Warfare (NSW) insertion and extraction operations, Vertical Replenishment (VERTREP), and Night Vision Device (NVD) operations, and conduct observer duties for safety of flight.
Naval Aircrewman (Avionics) (NOS A550)
The AWV are members of a fixed wing integrated tactical aircrew aboard maritime patrol and reconnaissance, and command and control aircraft. They are knowledgeable of all avionics systems, safety equipment, emergency procedures, and aircraft equipment. AWVs perform primary in-flight and ground duties as aircraft in-flight technicians, Electronic Intelligence (ELINT) specialists, and airborne communicators who maintain and operate aircraft systems. They pilot and maintain Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAV), operate aerial photographic equipment, and perform aircrew administration, flight and ground training, ordnance handling duties, joint special warfare operations, and Communications Material Security (CMS) handling.

Career Sea – Shore Rotation Chart

Career Sea-Shore rotation for the Naval Aircrewman ratings
AWF 54 36 36 36 36/36
AWO 48 36 36 36
AWR 48 36 36 36
AWS 51 36 36 36
AWV 54 36 36 36
AWF 36 36 36 36
AWO 36 36 36 36
AWR 36 36 36 36
AWS 36 36 36 36
AWV 36 36 36 36

Sea tours and shore tours for Sailors that have completed four sea tours will be 36 months at sea followed by 36 ashore until retirement.

Aircrew Rescue Swimmer (AIRR)
Rescue swimmers may be required to risk their lives during a rescue over-land or at-sea. They will be required to enter the open ocean from a hovering helicopter and swim to the survivor. Upon reaching the survivor, the swimmer utilizes appropriate rescue techniques and prepares for hook-up to the rescue hoist. A survivor in a state of panic may force the swimmer underwater, but training and techniques taught to rescue swimmers will allow them to overcome this situation. Once the swimmer and the survivor are in the aircraft, the swimmer provides advanced first aid until medical assistance is available. For additional qualification information about the Aircrew Rescue Swimmer (AIRR), review the Navy Challenge Program information.

ENLISTMENT TERM. You must enlist in the U.S. Navy or in the Full Time Support (FTS) Enlistment Program for four years and concurrently execute an Agreement to Extend Enlistment (NAVPERS 1070/621 or NAVPERS 1070/622) for 24 months using the following narrative reason entry:

“Training in the Aircrewman Program and accelerated advancement to paygrade E4 in accordance with MILPERSMAN Article 1220-010. Accelerated advancement to E4 is authorized only after successful completion of Naval Aircrew Candidate School, Class “A” School, and Fleet Replacement Squadron training. I understand that this extension becomes binding upon execution and thereafter may not be canceled except as set forth in MILPERSMAN Article 1160-040.

AIRCREWMAN PROGRAM SCREENING. For program moral conduct eligibility requirements (if you have prior civil/criminal offenses) see your local Navy Recruiter for type of offenses which may disqualify you or to determine the appropriate waiver authority. Adversely adjudicated drug abuse offenses will not receive waiver consideration with the potential exception of a single misdemeanor charge involving marijuana (only on a case-by-case basis).

183 Responses to “Navy Aircrewman Program NOS A500”

  1. AWFAN says:

    I recently completed AWF A school and am seeking to make E-4 through accelerated advancement. I am SELREs, do not have an FRS, and therefore I believe I am eligible for E-4 because I am in an advanced technical field. I was told by a PS I would have needed a page 13 saying I would get accelerated advancement upon enlistment, but according to MILPERSMAN 1220-010 I just need CO’s recommendation. Is this correct?

  2. AWF1(NAC/AW) says:


    You should have already completed a Page 13 entry when you signed your contract for ATF-AIRC. I will reread the Milpersman tomorrow, but I remember there being an issue with Selres. I may be mistaking that for something else. Are you at an aviation command or at a NOSC?

  3. AWFAN says:


  4. AWF1(NAC/AW) says:

    Send me a brief email at [email deleted for privacy] to remind me to look into it tomorrow. Sorry we are prepping for a maintenance inspection so I will probably forget by tomorrow.

  5. Sara says:

    Quick Question, if your already and E-3 going into AW A-School when do you pick E-4? is that after successful completion of A-School or the replenishment school. thank you

  6. AWV2 says:

    It should be stated in your contract, so look to that as a more explicit answer to your indicidual case. Generally speaking (98% of the people completing C-school at the same time as me) we all advanced to E-4 the same day that we graduated from C-school in Jacksonville.

  7. Zach says:

    How hard is it to get this rate?

  8. AWV2 says:

    Zach, the top of this page lists the requirements to be eligible for Aircrewman. Whether you meet these requirements or not, go see a recruiter as they can give you a better idea of your chances at becoming an Aircrewman.

    If you were talking about the physical aspect, Aircrew school was tough for some and easy for others. The farthest I remember running is 8 miles, which was a formation run and at a moderately slow pace. Be comfortable in the water, this was what most people were dropped/rolled back for. Pool evolutions range from treading water to swimming a mile in full flight gear. You will be trained and prepared for all this for 1-3 months prior to actual testing so it is not essential to get comfortable in the water before shipping out, but it will definitely help.

    If you were talking about the academic aspect of becoming an Aircrewman, the Navy believes that if you’ve got a good enough ASVAB score to sign the contract for Aircrew then you will be successful. I had terrible study habits when I joined the Navy but all that changed during C school out of necessity to pass. The Navy will prepare you for the job but you’ve got to be willing to put in the hours and commitment. Don’t quit. Senior leadership is there to mentor the willing and you will be successful as long as you keep a positive attitude and stay out of trouble.

  9. Earles L McCaul says:

    I was enlisted USN 1863-1971: ATW2(AC), converted to ATR2(AC), and finally AT1(AC). When I left active service, my “aircrewman” designation was (AC) post-fixed to the rate/rank. However, I read that in 2009 the (AC) designation became a RATING and was changed from Naval Aircrewman (NAC) to AV–something. So, what should I ‘properly’ use, the old (1963-1971 era) (AC) or subsequent (NAC) designation, ie: AT1(AC) or AT1(NAC)?

    Thank you,

    Very respectfully,
    Earles L. McCaul
    Tucson, AZ, USA.

  10. NCCM(Ret) says:


    I would recommend using whatever designation is on your DD-214 (discharge paperwork).

  11. Earles L McCaul says:

    That’s the rub, the DD214 does not mention Aircrewman designation, onlt AT1/E6; however, section 4. Designator Record of my Navy Occupation and Training History does show: DATE: 2SEP65; DESIGNATOR: AC; QUAL followed by Officer ATF’s initials.

    Thanks, (AC) it will be.


  12. Joseph says:

    Can i be in aircrew if i am an aviation mechanic in the navy? And how would i start that process??

  13. AWFAN says:

    What’s the difference between a system engineer and an in-flight technician in the AWF community?

  14. AWF1 says:

    I believe all in flight technicians are AWV or AWO. Not sure what a system engineer is.

  15. AWFAN says:

    Currently on CMSID and those are my only options for AWF3.

  16. AWF1 says:

    Strange. I am not familiar with that at all then. I would reach out to your detailer and ask about those billets.

  17. ron says:

    Beyond PFT standards.
    Please describe and highlight the differences between AW with SAR rating vs a AIRR rating. ie….2 years down the line what are the differences in a week in the life, month in the life description?
    Thank you

  18. Tex says:

    I was privileged to serve the United States as a Rescue Swimmer for 22 years.

    I would do it again in a second!!!!

  19. Justin says:

    I have a GED, I have a signed contract from meps. My rate is aircrew. I’m now being told my GED is not valid. Got a (76) Asvab score. I’ve been informed my contract is no longer valid? However I’m still eligible for AIRR. Does this make any sense? I feel like I’m being pushed into the spec ops community, and I just want my original Aircrew rate. Am I screwed?

  20. NCCM(Ret) says:


    If your GED is not valid, and you are not considered to have at least a Tier II education, they would have to discharge you. Why would your GED not be valid?

  21. Vaughan says:

    So I’m ETSing from the army in about 3 years. I enjoy the military, just not the army side of things. I’m in the Aviation branch here as a 15R (Apache Helicopter Crewchief/Mechanic) will this job set be transferrable in any way?

  22. AWV2 says:

    Hi Vaughn,

    The AD rate (Aviation Machinist’s Mate) seems like it would be a similar job. You can look up the specifics but to summarize, ADs are the mechanics for their particular aviation asset whether it be fixed or rotary wing. The AWF rate are the Flight Engineers, which is the AD equivalent in the aircrew ranks. However, AWFs are being phased out as the P-3 is replaced.

  23. AWF1 says:

    AWFs are not being phased out, just P3s. Navy still owns EP3E, C130T, C40A, C20, C2, and soon V22, all of which have crew positions filled by AWF.

  24. AWV2 says:


    My mistake I did not clarify. I was more so referring to AWFs as the flight engineer positions in reference to Vaughn’s question. Outside of (E)P3 platforms, I have only interacted with AWFs as either load masters or handing me snacks on the other platforms you mentioned and that was outside of the scope for my response.

    VP-30 has been slowing the class billets for AWFs as the Flight Engineer position for years along with AWVs as In-flight technicians, but of course AWVs are still inclusive for some of the platforms you mentioned.

    If you have some helpful information for Vaughn in the context of AWFs at the Flight Engineer or more scripted in the AD line of work, I am sure he would be happy to hear it.

  25. AWF1 says:

    No problem. I am a C130 Flight Engineer. Also VX has C130 FEs and I believe VQ3 and 4 have E6B flight engineers

  26. Anthony says:

    Dumb question

    Other than seals and swcc, what other rates can get combat deployment?

  27. AWF1 says:

    Not sure what you mean by combat deployed. Stab in the dark I would say EOD and Seabees

  28. Codey says:

    I have been waiting for the rate (AWR) or (AW) for a couple months. My recruiter says no spots have opened up and I am forced to pick another rate. Is there any reason why this rate is hard to get and do you have any advice on what I should do I could do?

    Thank you

  29. AWF1 says:

    Are you referring to an AIRR contract? I have been out of recruiting since 2010 but it was a special program that required you to perform a physical test prior to getting a contract. If you have performed the PST already I would talk to the RINC in the recruiting station, actually if he hasn’t even mentioned a PST you will want to talk to the RINC. RINC stands for Recruiter in charge. Basically the LPO (Leading Petty Officer) of the office.

  30. Codey says:


    sorry I am referring to aircrewman rate.

  31. Adam says:

    How long from after Boot Camp do you get to go home and see family like how many weeks

  32. AWV2 says:


    As an active duty service member you will accrue 30 days of leave per year (2.5 days per month). It is up to you when you decide to use that leave to go home. Your orders will dictate where you go after bootcamp; for Aircrew positions this generally means going to Pensacola, FL for Aircrew Candidate School. From there you will be allowed to take leave as long as it is approved by your chain of command.

    The Navy recognizes that most people right out of bootcamp have not accrued many leave days yet so they will allow you to go “in the hole” for leave days. For example, I arrived in Pensacola after bootcamp in mid-December, right before most people were taking leave for Christmas. I only had 5 days of leave saved at this point but I was able to put in a leave request for 10, meaning I returned with a negative balance. You just make those days up on the back end.

    To answer your question of how many weeks after bootcamp you must wait to take leave, it depends on many factors. If you are in a hold phase after bootcamp or a holiday period is coming up you will be able to take leave sooner. If you class-up immediately for job training immediately after bootcamp, your chain of command will only approve your leave request under certain circumstances.

  33. Jay says:

    Hi I have a few questions.

    1. From boot camp to duty station assignment, how long is all the training?

    2. Where are most AW’s stationed? Or what duty stations are AW’s sent to?

    3. The rotations for sea and shore are listed as 36mo/36mo. Does this mean for 36 months you’re at sea and never at your duty station to see your family? Please explain how this works. Thanks!

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