Frequently asked questions

The RCAF is facing unique personnel challenges in restoring and retaining our experienced personnel, particularly in the pilot occupation. Through Op EXPERIENCE, the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF) and RCAF will implement actions as expediently as possible to stabilize and rapidly grow levels of pilot experience. The re-enrollment of former RCAF members is one of numerous activities.

The RCAF is seeking to attract and re-enroll skilled and experienced pilots – as well as other air personnel – who have left the RCAF, preferably less than five years ago (i.e. since early 2015).

  1. Why is the RCAF encouraging some of its released pilots to re-enroll?
  2. Who is eligible to re-enroll into the CAF?
  3. What are the steps involved in the re-enrollment process for skilled applicants?
  4. How long will this re-enrollment process take; how soon can the RCAF get re-enrollees working again?
  5. Will all pilots re-enrolling be assigned to flying positions? Where will these personnel be employed?
  6. What will be the Terms of Service for RCAF pilots and other air personnel who re-enroll?
  7. Will pilots returning to the RCAF be subject to a restricted release period?
  8. Has a Reserve Force option been considered for those personnel who wish to continue working in the civil aviation industry?
  9. Will re-enrollees be able to keep the same rank they held at the time of their release?
  10. What about those who released from the CAF for medical reasons? Are they eligible to re-enroll now, given the RCAF’s shortage of personnel?
  11. If a former member re-enrolls and has to move to another location, will the CAF pay for that move?
  12. If a released RCAF member is interested, or would like more information about re-enrolling, should they contact a Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre?

1. Why is the RCAF encouraging some of its released pilots to re-enroll?

Unprecedented low levels of experienced mentors/trainers across the pilot occupation have affected the RCAF’s ability to train, absorb, and employ its pilots. Under the CDS-directed Op EXPERIENCE, the intent is to support the RCAF’s requirement to retain and grow critical pilot experience to ensure that the pilot occupation will be able to regenerate and return to optimal health.

2. Who is eligible to re-enroll into the CAF?

Like any new recruit, re-enrollees must be physically fit, in good health (i.e. meet CAF medical standards and Universality of Service requirements) and must be able to fulfill a term of service before reaching the CAF’s Compulsory Retirement Age (60). In addition, to be employable in any given position, re-enrollees must meet any prerequisites (e.g. qualifications, education) related to their military occupation.

3. What are the steps involved in the re-enrollment process for skilled applicants?

The enrollment process has been streamlined for skilled applicants returning to the RCAF.   For example, the Canadian Forces Aptitude Test (CFAT) and the Trait Self Descriptive Test (TSD) are not required to re-enroll. The main steps are:

  1. Application at https://forces.ca/en/apply-now/ .  An applicant file will be opened and the Air Force Intake and Liaison Team (AFILT) will confirm to the Canadian Forces Recruiting Group Headquarters (CFRG HQ) that the individual meets the criteria as a skilled applicant. CFRG will require original documents such as birth certificate, passport, education credentials and transcripts. The CFRG HQ Skilled Applicant processing NCM will contact the AFILT, who will then contact the applicant to discuss posting preferences. The AFILT will then consult with the respective occupation’s Career Manager to determine the posting location.
  2. Health Questionnaire. The local Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre (CFRC) will complete/update the applicant’s medical file.  A full medical exam will be required only if a significant change in health status since release and/or the skilled applicant has been out of the CAF for 5 years or more.  
  3. Interview with the Military Career Counselor. This interview can be conducted over the phone, after which the selection process will commence.  The length of this process will depend on how long the applicant has been out of the Canadian Armed Forces (CAF). If that time is longer than five years (as determined from the official release date to the date of application for re-enrolment), and before any further processing is carried out, the file will be sent to the Occupation Advisor (OA) for a determination on skilled status. Once the individual is confirmed as a skilled applicant by the OA, the processing of the file and subsequent re-enrollment will proceed.

4. How long will this re-enrollment process take; how soon can the RCAF get re-enrollees working again?

The re-enrollment process for skilled applicants should take 4-6 months to complete, provided there are no medical or security clearance issues.

If an applicant has resided outside Canada for more than 180 days in the last 10 years prior to application, a Level II Security Clearance is required.  This process can take 6 to 18 months to complete.

5. Will all pilots re-enrolling be assigned to flying positions? Where will these personnel be employed?

Not all re-enrolled pilots will be posted into flying positions. The RCAF has a number of current personnel already waiting for an Operational Training Unit (OTU) opportunity. Unless a short re-certification can be completed on an aircraft type, most re-enrollees will need to join and will then be sequenced for an OTU. This will cause most to be placed into either a staff or an instructor position for before moving to a flying position.  

6. What will be the Terms of Service for RCAF pilots and other air personnel who re-enroll?

Pilots re-enrolling into the RCAF will be offered Terms of Service of 4 or 5 years, based on the needs of the CAF at the time of the re-enrollment offer.

7. Will pilots returning to the RCAF be subject to a restricted release period?

That depends and will be determined on a case-by-case basis. For re-enrolled pilots, the restricted release period (RRP) will depend on the position into which they will be employed. For example, pilots who are placed into a staff position will not be subject to a restricted release period (RRP).

Re-enrolled pilots who are posted into a flying position may be subject to a RRP if they require re-certification or if they require training on a different fleet than they piloted before release. RRPs are determined according to CAF policy, CF Mil Pers 05/05 – TOS Appendix 2 Annex A.

8. Has a Reserve Force option been considered for those personnel who wish to continue working in the civil aviation industry?

Yes, the RCAF Reserve is an option for re-enrollees. RCAF squadrons are total force units, meaning Regular and Reserve Force members are fully integrated and work together. The challenge is in finding a balance in employing re-enrolled military pilots in a manner that allows the RCAF to benefit from their years of skill and experience, while also providing flexible Reserve options that would enable them to pursue a civilian career while still contributing to the RCAF. Currently the preference of the Canadian Armed Forces is to re-enroll persons full-time in the regular force.

9. Will re-enrollees be able to keep the same rank they held at the time of their release?

Yes, providing the individual meets specific conditions. Rank, time in rank and years of service on release all will be credited to individuals applying to re-enroll into the Regular Force who meet all of the following conditions:

  1. has previous CAF Regular Force experience and is at the time of application is a civilian or a member of a Reserve Force sub-component other than the Primary Reserve;
  2. released from the Regular Force within the past 5 years (more than 5 years since release date requires a Prior Learning and Recognition (PLAR);
  3. is occupation qualified;
  4. released from the Regular Force under items 4 (voluntary release), 5B or 5C (end of engagement);
  5. meets all other qualifications, conditions and standards for enrolment or component transfer; and
  6. desires re-enrollment to previous held occupation.

For those enrolling into the Primary Reserve, rank will be dependent the designated rank level for the position into which they will be placed. For example, an individual who held the rank of major upon release from the CAF may have to forfeit that rank if the position to which they are applying is designated as a captain-level position. A former Regular Force captain could re-enroll in the Reserve Force as a major for the same reason, as long as the individual is eligible for promotion. 

10. What about those who released from the CAF for medical reasons? Are they eligible to re-enroll now, given the RCAF’s shortage of personnel?     

The overriding purpose of the CAF’s Regular Force and the Primary Reserve is to conduct and support military operations. Anyone joining or re-joining the Canadian Armed Forces must meet its Universality of Service requirements, which include medical and physical fitness. This means that those who released from the CAF for medical reasons are not eligible for re-enrollment. This said, the RCAF has created the Air Operations Officer occupation, which does not require an aircrew medical standard. Should an individual meet the basic medical requirements of the CAF, but not the medical level required for aircrew, the individual may be eligible to enroll as an Air Operations Officer, providing they hold requisite experience for the pilot, air combat systems officer or aerospace control officer occupation.

For more information on Universality of Service, go to:

https://www.canada.ca/en/department-national-defence/corporate/policies-standards/defence-administrative-orders-directives/5000-series/5023/5023-0-universality-of-service.html

11. If a former member re-enrolls and has to move to another location, will the CAF pay for that move?

Yes, the CAF will pay to move the member and his/her family to the place of duty. Reimbursable expenses include, and are not limited to, a house-hunting trip (HHT), costs associated with the sale of their place of residence and the purchase of new residence (for home owners), travel and other costs.

Relocations for CAF members are managed by BGRS. More information about their program can be found here: https://www.irp-pri.com/home.asp

12. If a released RCAF member is interested, or would like more information about re-enrolling, should they contact a Canadian Forces Recruiting Centre?

Interested persons can always contact their local CFRC, at any time, but it is highly recommended that they first contact the RCAF directly through the Air Force Intake and Liaison Team (AFILT) at: AFILT-EALFA@forces.gc.ca

The AFILT can provide individualized support and guidance to re-enrollees, ensuring that the process is as smooth and timely as possible.