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Classification & Qualifications Appeal Decisions

Washington, DC

U.S. Office of Personnel Management
Classification Appeal Decision
Under section 5112 of title 5, United States Code

Joseph M. Baudendistel, Peter J. Bromen, Michael H. Burt, Callis N. Carleston III,Steven L. Feltenberger, Scott G. Floyd, Brian S. Frisbey, Terence L. Gilbert, Terrance A. Gould, Robert M. Hanson, Uwe Henseler, Barton L. Jordan, Jacob E. Kropog, Carey M. McKinney,Joseph T. Popovich, Kevin G. Saighman, David K. Sellars III, Wesley A. Tutt,David C. Von Brock, Devin C. Walters, Paul F. Ward
Airplane Flight Instructor,
GS-2181-12
Operation Support Flight
451st Flying Training Squadron
479th Flying Training Group
12th Flying Training Wing
Air Education and Training Command
Naval Air Station Pensacola
U. S. Department of the Air Force
Pensacola, Florida
Airplane Pilot (Parenthetical title at agency's discretion), GS-2181-12
C-2181-12-04

Robert D. Hendler
Classification and Pay Claims
Program Manager
Merit System Audit and Compliance

04/24/2013


Date

As provided in section 511.612 of title 5, Code of Federal Regulations (CFR), this decision constitutes a classification certificate which is mandatory and binding on all administrative, certifying, payroll, disbursing, and accounting officials of the Government.  The agency is responsible for reviewing its classification decisions for identical, similar, or related positions to ensure consistency with this decision.  There is no right of further appeal.  This decision is subject to discretionary review only under conditions and time limits specified in 5 CFR 511.605, 511.613, and 511.614, as cited in the Introduction to the Position Classification Standards (Introduction), appendix 4, section G (address provided in appendix 4, section H).

The appellants' position title must be changed as discussed in this decision.  Therefore, the appellants’ PD of record must also be revised to correct the title.  The servicing human resources office must submit a compliance report containing the revised PD and corrected SF 50 showing the personnel action taken for each appellant.  The report must be submitted within 30 days from the effective date of the personnel action to the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) office that adjudicated this appeal.

Introduction

On September 11, 2012, Atlanta Oversight office of the U.S. Office of Personnel Management (OPM) accepted a classification appeal from Messrs. Joseph M. Baudendistel, Peter J. Bromen, Michael H. Burt, Callis N. Carleston III, Steven L. Feltenberger, Scott G. Floyd, Brian S. Frisbey, Terence L. Gilbert, Terrance A. Gould, Robert M. Hanson, Uwe Henseler, Barton L. Jordan, Jacob E. Kropog, Carey M. McKinney, Joseph T. Popovich, Kevin G. Saighman, David K. Sellars III, Wesley A. Tutt, David C. Von Brock, Devin C. Walters, and Paul F. Ward.  On January 23, 2013, it was transferred to Philadelphia Oversight for adjudication.  The appellants occupy identical additional positions hereinafter referred to as position, currently classified as Airplane Flight Instructor, GS-2181-12, located in the Operation Support Flight, 451st Flying Training Squadron (FTS), 479th Flying Training Group (FTG), 12th Flying Training Wing, Air Education and Training Command (AETC), Naval Air Station (NAS) Pensacola, U. S. Department of the Air Force (USAF), in Pensacola, Florida.  The appellants believe their position should be upgraded to the GS-13 grade level.  We received the complete agency administrative report on November 26, 2012, and have accepted and decided this appeal under section 5112(b) of title 5, United States Code (U.S.C.).

To help us decide the appeal, we conducted telephone interviews with the appellants’ representatives on February 13, 2013, and their immediate supervisors on February 21, 2013, and March 20, 2013.  To clarify information provided during those interviews, we subsequently conducted telephone interviews with the appellants’ second-level supervisor as well as the AETC Program Manager for the NAS Pensacola Combat Systems Officer (CSO) Program.  In reaching our classification decision, we have carefully considered all of the information obtained from the interviews, as well as all other information of record provided by the appellants and their agency.

General issues

The appellants raise concerns about the agency’s classification review process (e.g., no one from the Air Force Personnel Center (AFPC) initiating the audit interviews, and the current evaluation statement purportedly containing substantive errors in AFPC’s understanding and application of the GS-2181 position classification standard (PCS) and contradictions with earlier versions of the evaluation statement).  They allude to classification inconsistency based on the grade of other positions, stating that newly-created USAF Air Reserve Technician positions flying unmodified T-1A and light, single-engine T-6 aircraft are graded at the GS-13 grade level.

By law, we must classify positions solely by comparing their current duties and responsibilities to OPM position classification standards (PCSs) and guidelines (5 U.S.C. 5106, 5107, and 5112).  Since comparison to OPM PCSs and guidelines is the exclusive method for classifying positions, we cannot compare the appellants’ position to other positions, which may or may not be classified properly, as a basis for deciding this appeal.  In adjudicating this appeal, our responsibility is to make our own independent decision on the proper classification of their position.  Because our decision sets aside all previous agency decisions, the agency’s classification review process is not germane to this decision.

Like OPM, the appellants’ agency must classify positions based on comparison to OPM standards and guidelines.  However, the agency also has primary responsibility for ensuring that its positions are classified consistently with OPM appeal decisions.  If the appellants consider their position so similar to others that they all warrant the same classification, they may pursue the matter by writing to their agency’s human resources headquarters.  In so doing, they should specify the precise organizational location, classification, duties, and responsibilities of the positions in question.  If the positions are found to be basically the same as theirs, the agency must correct their classification to be consistent with this appeal decision.  Otherwise, the agency should explain to the appellants the differences between their position and the others.

Position information

The appellants participate in the  in-flight instruction of CSOs carried out by Instructor CSOs (ICSOs) for the Advanced Undergraduate CSO Training syllabus by piloting the aircraft while the instruction is in progress and enhancing the students’ training by sharing their real-world flying experiences as needed by demonstrating navigation as an integral part of actual aircraft operation.  The Advanced Undergraduate CSO Training syllabus is the second part of the one-year training program conducted for CSOs which merges the previous USAF Navigator, Weapon Systems Officer, and Electronic Warfare Officer training tracks into one coherent program to produce a versatile USAF officer.  CSOs perform functions covered under the General Schedule in the GS-2183 Air Navigation Series, which includes assisting the pilot in aircraft operations by determining, planning, and performing the navigational aspects of the flight and/or applying similar knowledge and skill in the deployment of aircraft ordnance, including the skills necessary to conduct preflight checks, recognize malfunctions, and coordinate delivery with the pilot; and knowledge of weapon ballistics and skill to operate related avionics systems for the aircraft.  This part of the training encompasses advanced instrument and high speed, low altitude navigation training.

The ICSOs and the appellants provide in-flight train approximately 15 classes of students (each class includes 25 to 27 students) each year in the modified T-1A Jayhawk (T-1A) airplane over a three-week period toward the end of the training program.  The appellants pilot the airplane, with up to six occupants, and are responsible for all pilot-in-command requirements and flight operations such as mission planning and compliance with Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) and AF guidance.  The student sits in the co-pilot seat but does not fully function in a co-pilot capacity when occupying that seat (on multi-student flights, one of the students will sit in that seat).  The students receive advanced instrument training using Instrument Flight Rules (IFR).  The training takes place mostly during daytime hours in all weather conditions and includes instrument flight planning, instrument departures, precision instrument navigation along Federal airways, fix-to-fix navigation, holding, en route descents, precision and non-precision instrument approaches, and missed approach procedures.  Students also receive high-speed (up to 330 knots indicated airspeed), low-altitude (500 feet above ground level) navigation training while using IFR or Visual Flight Rules (VFR), which includes mission planning, IFR or VFR departures, defensive maneuvering, low-level route abort procedures and execution, and IFR or VFR arrivals at the destination.  The training takes place during out-and-back (the aircraft reaches its destination and returns to NAS Pensacola the same day) and cross-country (over a weekend the aircraft reaches its destination, remains there overnight, then returns to NAS Pensacola) training flights to destinations throughout the 48 contiguous states.  The appellants allow student errors and ICSO corrections and intervention but do not intervene unless there are safety concerns.  They also monitor the conversations between the students and ICSOs taking place throughout the aircraft.

Experienced ICSOs and the appellants also  train new ICSOs; i.e., USAF Officers chosen to serve a three-year ICSO assignment providing advanced instrument and high-speed, low-altitude navigation training to undergraduate CSOs.  The appellants pilot the airplane and are responsible for all pilot-in-command requirements and flight operations as listed above, by demonstrating navigation as an integral part of actual aircraft operation.  The student ICSOs receive initial qualification training which includes exposure to the T-1A aircraft systems and flying at Randolph AFB, and mission qualification training which includes learning the Advanced Undergraduate CSO Training syllabus and gaining experience instructing CSO students at NAS Pensacola.  Student ICSOs receive their training using IFR and VFR in Instrument Meteorological Conditions (IMC) and Visual Meteorological Conditions (VMC).  It takes place mostly during daytime hours in all weather conditions.  The training takes place during out and back and cross-country training flights to destinations throughout the 48 contiguous states.  The appellants provide training in safely flying the airplane under highly controlled conditions, including aircraft control, autopilot operations, unusual attitudes, slow flight, Vertical S, and traffic pattern stalls so as to safely control and aircraft should an emergency occur.  The training also includes advanced flight planning, briefing and debriefing techniques, instructor pacing and techniques, flight management systems operations, weather radar operations, and mission management which are integral to both the piloting and navigation processes.  The student ICSO learns to recognize typical student CSO in-flight errors and develops appropriate intervention techniques.  The appellants allow student errors while maintaining the technical safety limits of the airplane.

Approximately every three months, the appellants provide continuation training to each other in advanced airplane handling, advanced instrument training, and simulated emergency approaches and to ICSOs primarily in low-level high-speed navigation, hands-on airplane handling, and precision/non-precision approach practices under the same rules and conditions listed above in special use airspace.  The training ensures the appellants remain proficient in the skills necessary to safely operate the airplane and to instruct in all elements of the CSO student syllabus and ICSO upgrade training programs.  The appellants also provide indoctrination training to their newly hired co-workers to acclimate them to the local area, the airspace, flying the airplane and instructing simultaneously, etc.  They pilot the airplane and are responsible for all pilot-in-command requirements and flight operations as listed above.

The appellants agree their official AF Standard Core Personnel Document, PD # 8JR11656, accurately reflects their assigned duties and responsibilities.  Their supervisors have certified to the accuracy of the appellants’ PD.  After careful review, we find the appellants’ PD meets the standards of PD accuracy for classification purposes as discussed in section III.E of the Introduction and we incorporate it by reference into our decision. 

Series, title and standard determination

The agency has placed the appellants’ position in the GS-2181 Aircraft Operations Series, titled it Airplane Flight Instructor, and used the GS-2181 position classification standard (PCS) to evaluate its grade.  The appellants agree.  Based on careful review of the record, we agree the position is properly placed in the GS-2181 series, but do not concur with the agency’s titling of the position or grading analysis using the GS-2181 PCS.

The GS-2181 series includes several different types of airplane operations functions with titling and grading criteria applicable to specific defined functions.  The agency, in assigning the appealed position to this series, stated the appellants were Airplane Flight Instructors because they provide ground and flight instruction including flight evaluations.  The appellants, however, do not function as Airplane Flight Instructors since they do not provide the full range of aircraft piloting instruction to student pilots as described in the standard for the Instructor functional specialty.  The limited pilot training the appellants provide to student ICSOs in flying the airplane also does not affect the classification of the appellants’ position since it is taught under controlled conditions, and the flying principles being taught fall short of those required for GS-2181 series Instructor coverage as listed in the PCS..  Since this work occupies less than 25 percent of the appellants’ work time (i.e., 15 percent), it may not control the classification of the appealed position (Introduction, Section III.)  Therefore, the appellants’ rationale using flight instructor grading criteria in the PCS will not be addressed further in this decision.

The record shows the appellants' position is a mixed position as they assist in providing air navigation training to student CSOs and student ICSOs while flying the T-1A airplane and serving as the pilot-in-command as discussed in the previous section.  The appellants’ pilot work, serving as the pilot-in-command during all training missions aboard the T-1A airplane, is covered by the GS-2181 series and their air navigation training work is covered by the Air Navigation Series, GS-2183, which involves positions assisting the pilot in airplane operations by determining, planning, and performing the navigational aspects of the flight.  Positions in this series require knowledge of the various methods of air navigation, and skill in using navigational instruments, equipment, and systems in conjunction with flight instruments to direct the movement and positioning of the airplane to accomplish a specific mission or assignment.  The work includes such functions as monitoring adherence to air traffic clearances and standard departure procedures during takeoff and climb phases, performing pre-flight checks of navigational equipment and systems, and monitoring fuel consumption in flight. 

Although the appellants perform GS-2181 and GS-2183 work simultaneously, the record shows the GS-2181 work is primary and paramount since a pilot license and airplane systems knowledge required to independently pilot an airplane are required to accomplish the position’s training mission.  Since the GS-2181 series controls the qualification requirements of the appellants’ position, it is properly titled Airplane Pilot which is used for positions carrying passengers while operating a fixed wing airplane.  Accordingly, the appellants’ position is correctly classified as Airplane Pilot, GS-2181.  The Introduction states that parenthetical titles may be used to further identify the duties and responsibilities which reflect special knowledge and skill needed to perform the work.  Therefore, the agency is at liberty to add a parenthetical designation to this title to recognize the position’s navigation instruction knowledge and skills.

The appellants’ 2181 work is properly evaluated using the Pilot grading criteria in the GS-2181 PCS and their air navigation training duties by application of the Navigator (Instructor) grading criteria in the GS-2183 PCS.

Grade determination

Evaluation using the 2181 PCS

The GS-2181 PCS is written in the narrative format and the grade determination is based on three interrelated factors:  the aircraft operated, the nature and purpose of the assignments, and the degree of hazard.  The final grade determination is made by considering these three factors in combination, with no one factor considered as grade-controlling by itself. 

The PCS requires the grade level criteria be applied within the context provided in its introductory portions.  These include the fact that the various characteristics of the airplane; e.g., weight, speed, propulsion system, or performance capabilities, are not precisely quantifiable for use as grade level benchmarks.  Flying a given airplane may span two or more grade levels due to the influence of the degree of hazard involved, and/or the nature and purpose of the assignments.  The descriptive material on groups of airplanes illustrates typical characteristics of the airplane’s impact on the knowledge and skills required by pilots.  The PCS states that individual airplanes may not fit precisely all of the characteristics described, and users are cautioned against emphasizing one characteristic of the airplane as a basis for classifying a position to a particular grade level, or making a mechanical linkage of a particular airplane to a specific grade level.

The nature and purpose of assignments also influence the level of pilot skills.  For example, a greater degree of skill is required to carry passengers at night to remote and confined spaces, such as forest fire sites, than is required to fly the same airplane during daylight hours to carry passengers between airports.  The PCS states that assignments consisting solely of flying an airplane from one point to another impose few, if any, demands on the pilot beyond the application of basic pilot knowledge and skills.  The degree of hazard must be approached similarly.  All pilots are required to know and demonstrate skill in executing appropriate emergency procedures, and are required to know the pertinent limitations of the airplane, operations that must be avoided, and the safety precautions to be observed.  We must apply the grading criteria in the GS-2181 PCS consistent with these requirements.

The record shows the appellants’ rationale is based on the following major points.  The T-1A has a gross take-off weight of 16,100 pounds and cruises at a speed of between 250 – 280 knots, thereby exceeding the 12,500 pound and 250 knot cap for a small airplane.  The instrumentation suite of the T-1A has been modified with custom designed equipment necessary to support the CSO training not found in any other airplane throughout the world.  The degree of hazard is increased by operating in the congested Pensacola/Gulf Coast airspace, and the demands of serving as the pilot in command in an airplane FAA certified for dual-pilot operations while providing instruction to a student CSO or ICSO all support upgrading the position.

The T-1A is the military version of the Beech 400A transport category airplane and is a twin-engine jet trainer used to provide training to student CSOs and ICSOs.  The mission of the appellants’ activity is to provide officer development, advanced flight and simulator training to Air Force, Air Reserve, and Air National Guard components leading to the aeronautical rating of Combat Systems Officer.  The appellants pilot the T-1A with up to six occupants while working with an ICSO to provide advanced instrument and high-speed, low-altitude navigation training to student CSOs as described previously.  The T-1A was modified with a navigation suite including the Electronic Flight Instrumentation System (EFIS), Flight Management System (FMS), Global Positioning System (GPS), Automatic Direction Finder (ADF) and navigation aids or beacons including Very High Frequency Omni Directional Range Finder (VOR), and Tactical Air Navigation (TACAN).  The T-1A was modified with a communications suite of Ultra High Frequency (UHF) and Very High Frequency (VHF) radios.  The airplane also includes advanced CSO training electronics systems simulating synthetic surface to air missile threats, air-to-air bogey threats, and a full range of electronic warfare systems.

Our review of FAA Type Certificate Data Sheet information for the T-1A shows a maximum takeoff weight of 16,100 pounds and a maximum airspeed of 330 knots.  The record shows the appellants maintain a cruising speed of between 250 – 280 knots and carry specialized electronic equipment.  Therefore, we are persuaded that the T-1A operated by the appellants is identified properly as a heavy multi-engine turbine-powered airplane for the purposes of applying the GS-2181 PCS.

At the GS-12 level, pilots and/or flight instructors apply the knowledge and skills to instruct or evaluate students or rated pilots in flight techniques required to fly tactical operations in light single-or twin-engine airplanes.  They fly light single- or twin-engine airplanes or helicopters at low altitudes and speeds over unfavorable terrain with responsibility for making patrols and operating from confined or isolated areas.  They fly heavy multi-engine transport airplanes to various destinations, using instrument flight rules, to transport supplies and equipment.  They fly a variety of light twin-engine airplanes or helicopters to a variety of locations, some of which are unfamiliar, to transport passengers during day or night using instrument flying techniques in generally favorable weather, or conduct functional flight checks of light airplanes or helicopters following repair, maintenance, or installation of approved modifications to aircraft systems. 

At the GS-12 level, flying assignments involve operating light single- or twin-engine airplanes at minimum controllable speeds or at low altitudes, or both, over unfavorable terrain.  Assignments often involve making flights over uncharted courses and using meadows or roads for landing strips.  These assignments are distinguished from the GS-11 level by the greater degree of skills and judgment required to fly at low altitudes over unfavorable terrain.  An additional factor of difficulty is that the pilots must direct their attention outside the aircraft for sustained periods of time.  Moreover, at low altitudes there is little chance to maneuver to a favorable landing site in the event of trouble.  Such assignments are characterized by a substantial degree of hazard due to the flight regimen of the airplanes, the environment, and the demands on the pilot.  Assignments at the GS-12 level also include flying heavy multiengine transport airplanes to transport personnel, supplies and equipment to a variety of points throughout the continental United States.  Flights may involve a pattern of routes and destinations, and vary according to the demands of the assignment.  Typically, the flights are made day and night in generally favorable weather and require considerable skill in instrument techniques.  Assignments at the GS-12 level differ from the next lower level in terms of the requirement for extended flights and the airplane involved.  Flying assignments of this type are characterized by a minimum degree of hazard.

At the GS-13 level, pilots and/or flight instructors apply the knowledge and skills required to instruct or evaluate student pilots in advanced instrument flight techniques.  They fly heavy twin-engine or multiengine airplanes equipped with electronic devices used to inspect air navigational facilities, and to evaluate the safety and practicability of terminal and en-route flight procedures.  They fly heavy multiengine airplanes on extended flights, with responsibility for transporting passengers and/or cargo to and from a wide variety of domestic or foreign points, and test aircraft with substantially modified systems.

Flying assignments at the GS-13 level involve flying heavy multiengine airplanes (including those classed as “jumbos”) over very long distances to a wide variety of locations in this country and overseas for transporting cargo and/or personnel.  Flights typically involve distances that are significantly greater than those for similar assignments at the GS-12 level, except that overseas flights require that the pilot be familiar with international flight procedures and terminology, and the air traffic control procedures applicable in foreign countries.  Since such flights typically involve extended over-water flying, they are characterized by a marked degree of hazard.  These assignments are distinguished from similar work at the GS-12 level primarily by the weight of aircraft flown and by the variety of different areas and destinations to which flights are made.  Other assignments at this level involve the operation of high performance jet aircraft in law enforcement work under substantially hazardous conditions.  Assignments include operation of airplanes equipped with sensor and radar equipment to intercept airplanes suspected of being involved in smuggling activities, performing surveillance or shadowing of suspect airplanes to obtain their identification, and tracking the airplanes to the point of landing.  Assignments are characterized by a substantial degree of hazard due to such factors as high-speed intercept operations, flying in extremely close formation to suspect airplanes, prolonged periods of flying, and operating at night without lights and in all weather conditions.

The appellants’ position meets the GS-12 level.  Similar to the second work example, the appellants fly a heavy, multi-turbofan engine transport airplane (T-1A) to various destinations throughout the 48 contiguous states depending on the training mission.  The Pensacola airspace is highly congested, requiring the appellants to fly precise patterns close to the ground on a regular and recurring basis.  When the training mission covers advanced instrument training, the appellants use IFR and when the training mission covers high-speed, low-altitude navigation training, they use either IFR or VFR depending on the weather conditions.  Both types of training take place mostly during daytime hours, in all weather conditions, during out-and-back and cross-country training flights.  The appellants serve as the Pilot-In-Command during every training mission, ensuring the safety of the airplane and the students and ICSOs on-board.  While flying the airplane, they work with the ICSOs in teaching the students.  Since ICSOs possess a Navigator rating and wear CSO wings, the appellants enhance the students’ training by sharing their real-world flying experiences.  They discuss the changes made to the flight plan as needed, and/or demonstrate and discuss IFR or VFR departures or destinations, defensive maneuvering, precision and non-precision instrument approaches, etc.  The only time the appellants do not retain full control of the airplane is when they teach ICSOs to fly under highly controlled conditions.  The required low altitude flying over Pensacola airspace, changes in weather conditions based on the training missions’ destination, the high-speed, low-altitude training itself, and the appellants’ division of attention between flying the airplane and instructing a student, result in a substantial degree of hazard placing significant demands on the appellants to safely complete all training missions.

The appellants’ position does not fully meet the GS-13 level.  Similar to this level, they fly one type of heavy multi-engine airplane over long distances when they fly cross-county training missions approximately every other weekend to a wide variety of locations.  However, they do not fly “jumbo” airplanes to transport cargo or personnel overseas; do not fly multi-engine airplanes equipped with electronic devices used to inspect air navigational facilities or to evaluate the safety of terminal en-route flight procedures; and also are not tasked with testing airplanes with substantially modified systems as discussed at the GS-13 level.

The appellants’ pilot work is properly graded at GS-12.

Evaluation using the GS-2183 PCS

The agency did not evaluate the appellants' navigation instruction duties, our analysis of which follows.

The GS-2183 PCS is written in the narrative format and the grade determination is based on three interrelated factors:  the knowledge and skills required, the nature and purpose of the assignments, and the degree of hazard. 

At the GS-12 level, instructors require knowledge of the methods of air navigation; e.g., dead reckoning, celestial, or radio, appropriate to the flight training mission and the skill to apply it in planning and performing the navigation portion of the mission for heavy multiengine aircraft.  They require knowledge of aircraft systems and equipment related to the navigation function and the skill to operate systems, cross check information, and translate navigational data into useful and reliable information for the pilot.  They require knowledge of basic aerodynamics and the effect of various forces and conditions on flight operations and skill in considering these factors in planning missions and during flight.  They also require knowledge of the methods of instruction and the navigational requirements of assigned missions and the skill in using this knowledge in the ground training and in-flight instruction of navigators.

Instructors provide training in determining the best route to fly based on established routes, en route weather conditions, the duration of the flight, and planning the flight to arrive on schedule and avoid adverse weather.  They provide training in using all types of navigational methods and aids including dead reckoning, pilotage, celestial, radar, inertial, and Doppler navigation and navigational instruments such as draft meter, pelorus, sextant, radio compass, and loran set.  They provide training in computing the effect of various factors on course, flying time, and the adequacy of fuel supply.  Instructors also provide training in testing and inspecting navigational instruments and making necessary adjustments, maintaining the flight log and providing airport position reports, advising the pilot of an alternative landing area, and coordinating with other crew members in accomplishing the flying mission.

The degree of hazard involved in the work varies according to the requirements of the assignment.  Assignments involving point-to-point flying to transport equipment or personnel typically involve a minimum degree of hazard.  Other assignments, such as those involving the tactical airdrop of equipment or aerial refueling, involve a substantial degree of hazard while those operations are in progress.

The appellants’ position meets but does not exceed the GS-12 level, the only level described in the PCS.  The student CSOs receive advanced instrument training from an ICSO and one of the appellants during the Navigation Phase, which takes place at the beginning and the end of the training mission.  During this phase, the student syllabus objectives include learning and developing a proficiency in the operation of the T-1A systems; i.e., radio, fuel management, hydraulic, oxygen, and landing gear.  A second objective is for the students to learn instrumental navigation in a high-level environment, which is keeping the airplane flying within the established jet routes using charts and the airplane’s instruments at an altitude above 18,000 feet.  A third objective is for the students to learn about mission planning, where they create a flight plan taking into account such things as the terrain, weather, and the airplane performance capability and configuration.  The plan includes a printed Form 70 calculating the fuel requirements for the mission, a listing of temporary flight restrictions, and a completed weather briefing form encompassing the weather for the departure, destination, and any potential alternates.  A fourth objective is for the students to learn about crew coordination where they gain an understanding of their role within the flight crew and how it fits in with the other crew positions so that each mission is a success.  The elements of advanced instrument training; e.g., course intercepts, fix-to-fix navigation, precision and non-precision approaches, and missed approaches, are tools the students learn so they can implement the syllabus objectives.

The student CSOs receive high-speed, low-altitude navigation training from an ICSO and one of the appellants during the Air Operations Phase, which takes place during the middle portion of the training mission.  This phase of the training takes place in the front and the aft cabin, or back of the airplane.  The student in the front of the airplane occupies the co-pilot position and the student syllabus objectives include those from the Navigation Phase of training previously discussed.  Another objective is for the students to learn and develop a proficiency in high-speed, low-altitude navigation where they learn to reach their target based on speed, heading, and visual references after entering enemy territory low to the ground and at a high-speed to avoid enemy fire.  The specific training principles taught during this phase include the elements of advanced instrument training as listed above, low-level route entry and exit, course timing and control, and dead reckoning, which are tools the students learn so they can implement the syllabus objectives.

The student occupying the aft cabin sits at the CSO workstation while an ICSO sits at an instructor workstation.  The student syllabus objectives include learning and developing a proficiency in basic radar and electronic warfare systems, electronic combat and self-protection, basic weapons employment, crew coordination, and mission planning procedures.  The appellants do not provide training in weapons systems or electronic warfare and so do not provide training to the students when they occupy the aft cabin.  However, the appellants maintain awareness of the training and perform the maneuvers called out from the aft cabin based on safety concerns; e.g., moving the airplane in an easterly or westerly direction when no object or structure is in the way based on simulated enemy fire.

Like the GS-12 level, the instruction provided by the appellants includes determining the best route to fly based on established routes, en route weather conditions, and duration of the flight.  The students learn how to plan a flight mission to arrive on schedule, avoid hazardous weather affecting the safety of the airplane and the crew on board, and coordinating with other crewmembers in accomplishing the flying mission.  The appellants demonstrate the use of navigational methods such as dead reckoning – a principle of navigation calculating the destination based on flying in a given direction, at a given speed for a certain amount of time, and GPS – a space-based satellite navigation system providing location and time information, and navigational aids or beacons such as VOR and TACAN.  They demonstrate navigational instruments such as the Electronic Attitude Director Indicator (EADI) – an instrument displaying the orientation of the airplane relative to the earth’s horizon and the Electronic Horizontal Situation Indicator (EHSI) – an instrument indicating the airplane's heading with a navigational aid display. 

There is a substantial degree of hazard when the appellants conduct high-speed, low-altitude navigation training and during advanced instrument training when the student does not possess a thorough understanding of instrument procedures.  During these operations, significant demands are placed on the appellants typical of the GS-12 level.

The appellants’ navigation instruction work is properly graded at GS-12.

Summary

Since both types of work assigned to and performed by the appellants are at the same grade level, the appellants’ position is properly evaluated at the GS-12 grade level.

Decision

The appellants’ position is properly classified as Airplane Pilot (parenthetical title at agency’s discretion), GS-2181-12.

 

 

 

 

 

 

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