Pilot's Backdated Promotions to Captain


Pilot's Backdated Promotions to Captain

Case number


The grievance involved the refusal of the Canadian Forces (CF) to grant a Pilot a promotion to Captain (Capt) General Service Officer (GSO), backdated to his Enter Promotion Zone (EPZ) date for Capt, once he attained Wings Standard.  The Board observed that the CF has been experiencing difficulty in providing Pilot recruits with timely training to Wings Standard since the mid-1990s.  In the past, the CF acknowledged that training delays outside the control of the untrained Pilots were effectively disadvantaging these Pilots by delaying their promotion to Capt past their EPZ dates.  In order to mitigate the detrimental impact that the ongoing delays were having on Pilots, the CF had adopted a practice of promoting Pilots to Capt GSO, backdated effective their EPZ date, once they had qualified to Wings Standard.  However, in October 2009, the CF ceased the practice notwithstanding that only 20% of all Pilots were achieving their Wings Standards by the time they had reached their EPZ date for Capt.  The CF stated that the practice was not supported by the promotion policy found at Canadian Forces Administrative Orders (CFAO) 11-6, Annex A and that the Chief of the Defence Staff (CDS) did not have the authority to waive the requirements to meet the promotion standards.

The Board acknowledged that the current policy on promotion, as found at CFAO 11-6, Annex A, does not permit the backdating of promotions to Capt prior to military occupational classification qualification. However, the Board noted that the direction in the CFAO is subject to the exception set out in paragraph 11.02(2) of the Queen's Regulations and Orders for the Canadian Forces (QR&O) which stipulates that in any particular instance or in any given circumstances, the CDS may direct that the requirement to meet any promotion standard be waived. 

Given that the provisions of the QR&O take precedence over those of the CFAO, the Board found that it was, and remains, open to the CDS to direct the backdated promotion of any Pilot to Capt rank prior to the date the Pilot qualified at Wings Standard.

In April 2011, the CDS rendered a decision in which he supported the previous CF practice of backdating the promotions of Pilots to Capt GSO in case were pilots were delayed in attaining Wings Standard because of “military reasons."  In his decision, the CDS explained that “military reasons” were meant to denote occurrences within the control of the CF

The Board found that it would be reasonable that the CF accept responsibility for delays for which the Pilot was in no way responsible, given that the Pilot recruit is powerless to make, or even influence, decisions affecting his or her Wings training. Moreover, the Board noted that any delays in flight training lead to delays in the attainment of Wings Standard and that any delays in attaining Wings Standard will directly prorogue a promotion to Capt as well as the concomitant salary increase. 

Consequently, the Board indicated that there remains a significant need for the backdating practice or, failing that, some other form of mitigating relief, given that 80% of all Pilots were being delayed past their EPZ to Capt date in achieving their Wings.

Considering the ongoing issue of training delays experienced by the Pilots and the impact these delays have on their career progression, the Board found that policy changes should be made and promulgated under the CDS authority in order to clarify and embody the option of backdating promotions to Capt GSO where required due to delays in the provision of pilot training, provided the Pilots are not personally responsible for the delay.  The Board was also concerned that many other Pilots may have been unfairly affected by the CF’ perplexing 2009 decision to suspend that option.


The Board recommended that the CDS direct the revision of CFAO 11-6 so as to permit the backdating of promotions to Capt GSO for Pilots who are delayed past EPZ in obtaining their Wings for “military reasons."  

The Board also recommended that the CDS direct the review of the files of all CF Pilots who obtained their Wings after October 2009, and who were not granted a backdated promotion to Capt GSO upon achieving Wings Standard, in order to determine whether “military reasons” were responsible for the delay in achieving their Wings, and whether they should receive a backdated promotion to Capt GSO effective their EPZ.

Final Authority Decision

The CDS did not agree with the Board's recommendation that the grievor's promotion be backdated. He rather directed that the grievor be granted additional Pis in the rank of 2Lt and that DGMC promote him to Lt, effective 9 March 2009, the date he completed Phase II. In addition, as the grievor had completed three years of qualifying service in the rank of 2Lt and Lt, the CDS confirmed the grievor's promotion to Capt in the pilot occupation, effective the date he completed wings standard, 7 May 2010.

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