By Capt. Kenya Pettway, Air Education and Training Command Public Affairs
/ Published March 10, 2021
To accelerate Air Force aircrew diversity efforts and safely meet accession demands during the ongoing study, critical flying Career Enlisted Aviator carrier fields and applicable aircraft were surveyed at the request of Air Education and Training Command leadership. Based on preliminary data, interim height standards have been established for specific CEA Air Force Specialty Codes and are effective immediately. (U.S. Air Force graphic by Master Sgt. Caitlin Jones Martin)
JOINT BASE SAN ANTONIO-RANDOLPH, Texas (AFNS) -- The Air Force began an anthropometric study in 2020 to determine accurate entry-height standards for its aircrew, which is scheduled to conclude in 2022.
To accelerate Air Force aircrew diversity efforts and safely meet accession demands during the ongoing study, critical flying Career Enlisted Aviator, or CEA, career fields and applicable aircraft were surveyed at the request of Air Education and Training Command leadership. Based on preliminary data, interim height standards have been established for specific CEA Air Force Specialty Codes, or AFSCs, and are effective immediately.
The interim height standards are as follows:
Inflight Refueling Specialist
Airborne Mission Systems Specialist
Airborne Cryptologic Language Analyst
Airborne ISR Operator
Special Mission Aviator
Enlisted RPA Pilot
“Up until now, CEAs did not have an anthropometric-based height requirement, so our team here worked to accelerate the AETC commander’s efforts to implement these interim changes while the Air Force study is underway," said Chief Master Sgt. Erik Thompson, command chief of Air Education and Training Command. "The CEA career field, like every Air Force specialty, needs a diverse team of multi-capable Airmen to be able to complete our missions. These new height requirements will be instrumental in helping us build just that.”
“We must implement change with a sense of purpose and with the Department of Defense’s strategic position in mind,” said Lt. Gen. Brad Webb, AETC commander. “Enacting this meaningful change ensures the type of agile, lethal and diverse force we need to be.”
Previous CEA entry standards
CEAs are the Air Force’s enlisted flight crew and make up nearly 35% of the Total Force aviator community. These enlisted personnel are part of the in-flight crew on certain aircraft, and include a number of AFSCs such as in-flight refueling, flight engineers, flight attendants, aircraft loadmasters, airborne mission systems operators and airborne cryptologic language analysts, to name a few.
Physical qualification for CEAs previously included a blanket minimum standing height measurement of 64 inches to 77 inches (5’4” to 6’5”)—a policy based on a 1967 study of predominantly white, male pilots.
However, according to the U.S. National Center for Health Statistics, 43.5% of U.S. women—including 74% of African Americans, 72% of Latino Americans and 61% of Asian Americans—aged 20-29 have a stature of 64 inches or less, compared to only 3.7% of U.S. men.
Additionally, the white, male pilots used in the 1967 study held duties that consisted of sitting at a control station, which Air Force officials say does not reflect the actual operational requirements of CEAs.
“The former policy was not applicable to career enlisted aviators, as the vast majority of CEAs move throughout the aircraft for the duration of the duty day,” said Chief Master Sgt. Philip Leonard, CEA career field manager. “While the highly conservative nature of the previous requirement has seemingly kept the force safe, the study will finally provide specific requirements by aircraft and crew position.”
How’s the anthropometric study going?
The current ongoing anthropometric study being conducted by the Air Force Life Cycle Management Center will supersede the 1967 study and interim guidance, and provide crew position-specific requirements for each of the career field’s 32 aircraft. With one aircraft study scheduled to take place every month on average, the fleet-wide evaluation is on target to be completed by fall 2022—a significant feat on the journey to enduring diversity in the Air Force.
“This scientific study will create a true safety standard and open up 10 AFSCs to a larger recruit population,” Leonard said. “Our CEA enterprise will be able to grow more lethal and ready through innovation sponsored by a diverse force.”
The interim height-standard changes, as well as specific qualifications for each CEA AFSC, are listed in the updated Air Force Enlisted Classification Directory, available on the MyPers website (CAC required).
If you are interested in joining the Air Force as a CEA, contact your local recruiter here.