Written by attorney Matthew Scott James

Air Force Flying Evaluation Boards

Air Force Flying Evaluation Boards

If you are facing an Air Force flying evaluation board (FEB), you are facing a serious threat to your flying career. The results of the board are extremely important and the decision can impact not only your ability to fly in the military, but your ability to fly in the civilian world.

However, FEBs are considered low priority by Air Force ADCs. Because FEBs don’t carry a threat of jail or a discharge, they fall to the bottom of the list. However, the Government recorder is working day and night, full-time, assembling evidence to show why you shouldn’t be able to fly.

To level the playing field, you need to consider hiring a military defense attorney. As an active duty defense lawyer, I was the “go-to" person for defending FEBs. I had done more FEBs than any of my peers. Teaming with my clients, we were able in many cases to save their wings and change the way Air Force aircrew members are trained.


When there is an Air Force aircraft accident, the first thing the military does is convene an SIB or safety board. The safety board is assembled under AFI 91-204. Their job is to find out what happened. Because this is extremely important to make sure aircraft don’t have mechanical or other issues, they can issue a promise of confidentiality. This means whatever you say to a SIB can’t be used against you, at a court-martial or otherwise.

After an SIB, an AIB is assembled under AFI 51-503. They investigate the accident to find the cause and if the pilots or other aircrew members are responsible. An AIB DOES NOT promise confidentiality. Anything you say to an AIB can be used against you.


After the AIB, an FEB may be held if the commander determines it is necessary. An FEB involves a formal hearing in front of board members. The question for the board is whether you should remain in the Air Force aviation service or not. If so, they can also recommend a change of airframe.

A recorder is appointed to investigate the evidence and present the case before the board. Recorders typically are assigned to the FEB as their primary duty. That means they are working day and night to assemble the case against you. They may even pull records from your very first flight in an effort to build their case.

The FEB board examines the evidence and makes a recommendation. The recommendation goes through command channels, generally up to MAJCOM or NAF levels. The approving commander, a general officer, makes the final decision.

The Air Force rules are complicated and confusing. Because I have been through this process many times before, I can guide you through step-by-step. If you believe your FEB is a top-priority, call me now for a free initial consultation.

Additional resources provided by the author

AFI 11-402

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