Flight Evaluation BoardJanuary 4, 2021
A flight evaluation board, or flying evaluation board, is governed by AR 600-105, available at this link. This article is meant as a general overview.
Essentially, a flight evaluation board is a Commander's tool to determine if an Officer should be terminated from aviation duties. A board MAY be appointed if any officer:
- Fails to remain professionally qualified
- Has marginal potential for continued aviation service
- Is currently non-medically disqualified for aviation service and meets the provisions for requalification
A flight evaluation board WILL be appointed if there is evidence that shows any officer:
- Lacks proficiency in flying duties
- Fails to meet ATP requirements, unless waived (see AR 95-1)
Officers who are found to have flagrantly violated flying regulations may be forced to undergo a flight evaluation board for potentially lacking proficiency in flying duties. Furthermore, the following traits are specifically referenced in the regulation as reasons to convene a flight evaluation board: alcohol abuse, illegal use of controlled substances, incarceration, or willful concealment of disqualifying medical history.
The regulation also contains a catch all, allowing a flight evaluation board to be convened for "insufficient motivation." This could include refusing to fly a specific aircraft, refusing to fly certain missions, fear of flying not because of psychiatric illness, or other "self-imposed" deficiencies. Commanders are actually required to suspend the Officer and refer them to a flying duty medical examination in any of these situations.
A flight evaluation board can be appointed by the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority (typically the Brigade Commander). A board's report is approved or disapproved by the General Court-Martial Convening Authority. A board will consist of an uneven number of members (no fewer than 3), who are rated officers (CW2 or higher). If the Officer facing the board is a flight surgeon, the board is required to have a flight surgeon on it. Furthermore, if the Officer facing the board is a Warrant Officer, a more senior Warrant Officer at or above the rank of CW4 must be on the board.
A board's proceedings are governed by AR 15-6. Any Officer facing a flight evaluation board is entitled to have a lawyer, Civilian or Military, present. Said lawyer is able to argue to the board, present evidence, and cross-examine witnesses. After a full proceeding, the Board can only make the following recommendations:
- Officers with proper training and skills be awarded an aeronautical rating
- Orders suspending the respondent from flying be rescinded and the respondent be returned to aviation service
- Orders disqualifying the respondent be rescinded and the responded be re-qualified for aviation service
- Respondent's aviation service be terminated
- Respondent's aviation service and their aeronautical ratings be terminated
- Respondent's aviation service be permanently terminated
- Respondent's aviation service and their aeronautical ratings be permanently terminated
Boards should typically not recommend that aviation service be terminated based on an isolated incident; however, if an Officer's conduct clearly shows a dangerous or an unacceptable change in pattern of performance, termination should be recommended.
After a flight evaluation board convenes, if the appointing authority believes that termination is proper, the General Court-Martial Authority takes final action. The appointing authority can take final action without the General's involvement, if that action is to restore an Officer's aviation service.
An Officer can appeal any decision based on "additional evidence" or "new unexpected circumstances." Appeals are sent through the chain of Command to either the ACOM, ASCC, or DRU; if an Officer does not have one of these assigned, appeals are sent to CDR, HRC or CNGB. Once an appeal is decided, a decision cannot be appealed any further.
After an Officer is terminated (not permanently), he/she can seek requalification and restoration of aviation service if the original reason for the disqualification and the current circumstances warrant reconsideration. If requested by an Officer and approved by the Special Court-Martial Convening Authority, a flight evaluation board will convene to review any such request. All such requests are sent through the Officer's chain of Command.
Any Officer facing a flight evaluation board, or flying evaluation board, has a lot to lose. Legal representation at any board, or for a subsequent appeal/requalification request, is recommended.
This article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.