Commonwealth Air Training Plan Museum
Canada 150 Vignette –  083 of 150
British Commonwealth Air Training Plan

The Flight Engeineer​​
The Avro Lancaster and Handley Page Halifax bomber aircraft in service to Bomber Command during World War II utilized a crew of seven airmen including a mid-upper gunner, rear gunner, wireless operator, bomb aimer/gunner, navigator, pilot and flight engineer. Other British aircraft including the Short Stirling included a flight engineer. Missing from this crew was the co-pilot whose duties were assumed by the flight engineer and pilot. 

The flight engineer occupied the seat beside the pilot in the cockpit. This seat could be moved to allow the bomb-aimer access to his position in the nose of the aircraft. The flight engineer’s main responsibility was to monitor equipment with a relatively complicated instrument panel with multiple gauges, switches and dials. He would maintain power and propeller pitch for flight control of the aircraft. As such, the Flight Engineer would set the throttles, monitor oil, pressure, and fuel gauges, He would shift fuel consumption from fuel tank to tank of the six located in the wings of the Lancaster to maintain appropriate trim for the aircraft. He also assisted the pilot with takeoffs and landings by monitoring and adjusting the throttles, Most Flight Engineers had enough knowledge to keep the aircraft on a straight and level flightpath but would only attempt landing the aircraft if the pilot had become incapacitated. Flight Engineers received limited formal training in flying the aircraft.

Initially during World War II, most Flight Engineers in the Royal Canadian Air Force were Royal Air Force trained. This changed in July 1944 when a Flight Engineer School was set up in Aylmer Ontario. It closed on March 31 1945 having graduated 1913 Flight Engineers who went on to replace RAF Flight Engineers in RCAF aircraft overseas while others served in multi-engine units for the Canadian Home War Establishment.