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Sponsored Reservists

The role of the Sponsored Reservist

RAF Reserves will play a vital part in a redefined Royal Air Force. RAF Voyager offers a pioneering example of the successful integration of RAF Sponsored Reserves in support of full-time Squadrons.

The Sponsored Reservist role was created to allow civilians to undertake specialist activities that might be required in an operational environment and was established by the Reserve Forces Act 1996.

Standing ‘shoulder to shoulder’ with the RAF

The UK Government’s White Paper ‘Reserves in the Future Force 2020’ sets out a pivotal role for Sponsored Reservists (SRs) in a new 35,000-strong Reserve Force. The Voyager programme is at the vanguard of how SRs are being integrated to work alongside full-time squadrons.

Recruited by AirTanker, our growing team of SRs includes both pilots and engineers. Working as civilians one day and as military personnel the next, when on duty they wear a military uniform, come under RAF command and are subject to military law. As an integrated part of the RAF they can be mobilised in support of military operations around the globe.

When not required by the RAF, our SRs revert to their civilian duties as an employee of AirTanker.

Expertise deployed worldwide

Being an SR presents a unique challenge, both personally and professionally; this is certainly not an experience offered by any standard civilian airline. As an SR, you will build on your experience whether civilian or military and apply it in a new sphere.

Our SR team includes a wealth of A330 type experience gained in civilian service and air-to-air refuelling experience from the military world. Shared in the workplace, that expertise is also mobile, going down-route with the aircraft as part of the Voyager Sponsored Reservist programme.

With masses of flight hours under their belts, AirTanker Sponsored Reservist pilots are also leading on aircraft-type training, drawing on their extensive experience in commercial airlines and in many individual cases, also with the RAF.

Are you ready for a fresh challenge as a Sponsored Reservist with AirTanker?

Life as a Sponsored Reservist presents an exciting opportunity to combine both a civilian and a military career. As an SR you’ll stand shoulder to shoulder with the RAF, joining real deployments and providing valuable specialist support to the Voyager programme as either an experienced pilot or engineer.

What being an SR involves

You will be a reservist employed by AirTanker. This is not the same as being in the RAF Reserves, which involves weekday and weekend training, and deploying as a unit to support regular Armed Forces. As an SR you will be deployed in support of Voyager. When not required for military tasks, you will return to your civilian role with AirTanker.

To qualify for SR status you must be between 18 and 55 years of age at the date of joining. A waiver may be granted to those aged over 55. You must hold a UK passport, be medically and dentally fit, and maintain the required fitness level. You must also be able to obtain security clearance and been a resident of the UK for the past five years.

Airtanker refueling

Experience new horizons as a Sponsored
Reservist Pilot

Becoming a Sponsored Reservist (SR) pilot with AirTanker presents a unique challenge both professionally and personally.

We provide a career opportunity unmatched by any standard civilian airline. As an SR you can make the most of your current experience, applying your skills and expertise in a unique role that combines the best of both the civilian and military worlds.

Life as an SR pilot

You are employed by ATrS and can be deployed in support of Voyager on the Military Aircraft Register (MAR). When on duty, under military tasking, you wear military uniform and operate under the military command structure and discipline. When not required for military tasks you return to your civilian role with AirTanker as a pilot operating on the Civilian Aircraft Register (CAR).

How the selection process works

We operate a two-stage interview process, along with a simulator handling test. You would be required to attend a medical to ascertain your medical fitness. The final stage of selection takes place at the Officer and Aircrew Selection Centre (OASC) located at Royal Air Force College Cranwell. Over two days you are assessed in a variety of settings including group discussions, planning exercises and dynamic hangar leadership.

Once you have been selected by ATrS and have passed the OASC selection process you will receive a contract and start date. You will then undertake the relevant training to become an SR.

The training programme

We make sure that your individual training needs are determined, taking into account any previous military experience. The full process involves a five-day General Service Knowledge (GSK) course and a 15-day Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC), both held at RAF Halton. These are followed by Reserve Officer Initial Training, which is spread out over four months and consists of a mix of distance learning and attendance at RAFC Cranwell during weekends and set weeks.

You are fully trained in first aid, weapons handling (including firing a live weapon), and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare drills. Together these disciplines are known as common core skills (CCS) and are refreshed annually.

The transition to being an SR and deploying overseas

When operating as an SR, Captains and First Officers will hold the rank of a Flight Lieutenant.

We are scaled to support multiple Deployed Operating Bases (DOBs) with a long term commitment at RAF Mount Pleasant, Falkland Islands, others also include RAF Akrotiri, Cyprus. The amount of time away is dependent on the business needs, however the company monitor the harmony (nights out of bed) per individual over a 12-month period. This is to ensure our employees maintain a healthy work life balance.

Decisions on deployments are usually taken well in advance so that you can make plans as early as possible. Scheduling is done using a rota system to ensure parity among all relevant SRs. However, due to the nature of the service we provide to the RAF, there may be additional tasks at short notice.

Engineer the next step in your career as a Sponsored

At AirTanker we’re committed to delivering a dependable, world class engineering service.

Our team of Sponsored Reservist (SR) Licensed Engineers and Mechanics play a vital role in delivering that service every day, ensuring that the Voyager fleet can be deployed worldwide, safely and efficiently.

The transition to being an SR and deploying overseas

When operating under your SR status the rank you hold depends on the role you have with AirTanker:

  • Senior Licensed Engineers hold the rank of Chief Tech
  • Licensed Engineers hold the rank of Corporal, Sergeant or Chief Tech (pending a senior role)
  • Category A Mechanics hold the rank of SAC or SAC (T)

Training and maintaining SR status

Once you have successfully passed a medical assessment, if required, your training will involve a five-day General Service Knowledge (GSK) Course, plus a 15-day Basic Recruit Training Course (BRTC), which is held at RAF Halton. You will also complete either a 13-day Intermediate Management Leadership Course (Sergeants) or a 13-day Junior Management leadership Course (Corporals).

To retain your SR status, you will need to maintain the necessary fitness levels and complete the annual Common Core Skills training, which includes first aid, weapons handling (including firing a live weapon), and nuclear, biological and chemical warfare drills.

Find out more

For more information about becoming a Sponsored Reservist, please contact: or 01993 873000

Airtanker refueling

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