Recruitment for line pilots opens in July 2023

Tuesday 27 June 2023

In July 2023, our latest recruitment drive for NPAS Line Pilots will go live. 

We are looking to recruit experienced and talented pilots to join a number of our bases across England and Wales. 

Whilst our pilots come from a range of backgrounds and flying experiences and we encourage and welcome applications from anyone who meets the essential criteria, it comes as no surprise that over 75% of our pilots have made the move across from military flying careers.

Ex-military personnel are often suited to police aviation as many of their skills are directly transferrable, especially when it comes to maintaining situational awareness whilst safely operating an aircraft to the limits of its performance.

With a fleet of 15 EC135 and four EC145 rotary aircraft, plus four P68R fixed wing aircraft, NPAS provides 24/7 air support across England and Wales from 15 regional bases.

The service is fully embedded into regular policing, bringing vital support to dynamic operations. No other job, outside military flying, offers similar challenges, or rewards.

Police flying comes with an unpredictability that tests a pilot’s ability to respond to rapidly changing circumstances.

Captain Paul Watts made the move into police aviation in 1999 following a 12-year Navy career, eight as a helicopter pilot in the Fleet Air Arm.

Paul explains why police flying is an attractive prospect for pilots leaving a military career.

“It’s unique in its variety and dynamic nature. Pilots will often not know where their mission is until they are airborne,” he said.

“Tasks can rapidly change. You may launch to search for a missing child and then be diverted to a high-speed pursuit, which could turn into a foot chase, armed incident or even a siege situation.

“This requires pilots to be highly flexible and make decisions under pressure.

“Much of NPAS’s tasking occurs at night so pilots need to have significant operational night flying experience, including aided and unaided off-airfield landings,” he added.

Flying with NPAS

Every shift begins with a crew briefing, to include weather conditions, aviation notices and aircraft performance. Only then will an aircraft be task-ready.

Crews are on standby to be airborne within five minutes of receiving an urgent deployment.

Captain Ayla Holdom flies out of NPAS Bournemouth and has been a line pilot in police air support since 2016, having left the RAF in the same year.

“The direct impact we can have to on such a variety of police operations, and the level of autonomous responsibility for pilot and crew, is something you don’t get just anywhere in aviation,” she said.

“It is so rewarding when a force thanks us, as we depart a scene, for being a decisive part of the outcome in a way only an aircraft can.  The job is a privilege.”

Working for NPAS

NPAS is currently recruiting pilots. Applicants require 1,500 hours total helicopter flying time although this is under review for military pilots and is expected to be reduced to 1,000 hours. A prospective £5k market factor uplift, from £7k to £12k, is also under consideration.  

Find out more about the role of our pilots and hear more from those already doing the job.

Interested in applying. Email to ask for more information, arrange an informal chat or register your interest.