Tactical Flight Officer

Save lives and fight crime from the sky

As a National Police Air Service (NPAS) Tactical Flight Officer (TFO) you’ll take to the sky and help save lives, tackle criminality and keep people and communities safe across England and Wales 24/7, 365 days a year.

Flying to more than 17,000 tasks from a national network of bases every year, no two days are the same.

Who can be a TFO?
Crews are made up of two Tactical Flight Officers (TFO) and one pilot. Tactical Flight Officers are Police Constables or Police Staff and join NPAS from various locations and backgrounds. A background in aviation is not required but relevant policing experience in an operational environment is desirable given the operational policing nature of the role.


Key responsibilities
• Fly as an operational crew member within a police aircraft ensuring the safe and effective use of specialist role equipment to implement effective police air operations
• ‘Tactically navigate’ / map read to an incident including on scene management and situational awareness in a safe and efficient manner and be ‘spatially aware’
• Carry out searches, coordinate resources and effectively deal with emergency situations including command and control of police incidents and resources from the air
• Communicate effectively at all times within an aircraft crew environment, other air assets and ground based units
• Prioritise multiple strands of information from various sources and enhance flight safety
• Process evidential footage / photographs and provide statements and exhibits

On occasion, the crew can be called upon to land so the TFOs can assist people in distress / render first aid, or on rare occasions use police powers to arrest where available and necessary.

You will receive comprehensive training so there is no expectation that you will have previous experience in this area of policing or aviation matters.

Whilst not in the air, you will be required to work with colleagues to maintain the operational efficiency of the base which will include secondary administrative and base husbandry duties.

Recruitment and selection process
In order to make sure you are suitable for the role, you’ll go through a thorough recruitment process. The process involves multiple stages and you will be required to pass each stage before moving onto the next.

The recruitment process concludes with a 3 week residential initial TFO Course. This is a final assessment of suitability to continue onto a secondment or posting (work as a NPAS TFO, Police Officers are seconded and Police Staff are employed by West Yorkshire Police).

The selection criteria can be divided into six clear individual elements – none of which require previous flight experience but does require an ability to research, learn and develop. These elements all overlap in one way or another but take place on separate days. From application to appointment is usually takes 10-12 weeks. 

• Essential criteria on selection (Application form evidence – role profile)
• Mapping skills assessment  (TFO Combined Skills Assessment - CSA)
• Cognitive skills assessment  (CSA & aircrew aptitude testing – RAF Cranwell)
• Interpersonal skills assessments (Competence & Values Framework Interview)
• Environmental assessment  (Flight test in an NPAS aircraft)
• Aviation Foundation Course  (3 weeks of Initial training and development)



Shift pattern
The shift pattern is fixed 4 on 4 off (2 days, 2 nights followed by four rest days), 12-hour roster pattern offering a stable working routine and the ability to plan many months ahead. It’s important that you have a flexible approach to the pattern as crew sizes are small.

How to apply
All vacancies are advertised internally by police forces across England and Wales. We are currently not recruiting.

Being a TFO will provide you with unique and rewarding opportunities to enhance your career, develop personally and professionally, and gain experience rarely found at this rank / level. Additional qualifications and courses, both aviation and non-aviation related, are available for lateral career development including TFO Training Officer opportunities.

Find out more about police air support