Members of Australia’s air force will no longer be referred to as ‘airmen’, with the service adopting the term ‘aviators’.

Air Force Chief Mel Hupfeld announced the change at a recent Royal Australian Air Force dinner, declaring it would bring about a stronger sense of identity.

The service has long-struggled with describing who it is, compared to what it does, he said.

“We are all aviators,” Air Marshal Hupfeld said.

“As an air force, we are born of the air and space. It is our home, and the place from which we serve our nation. Our trade is aviation.

“In everything that we do, we are aviators first and foremost. All of us, by virtue of what we do and what we believe. It is what binds us together.”

The decision was revealed in a statement from the Department of Defence on Thursday.


The updated phrase was announced along with a broader refresh of the force’s culture.

Australia’s top military officer was widely criticised for recently suggesting ways trainee officers could avoid sexual predators.

Chief of Defence Angus Campbell told first-year cadets to avoid the “four As” – alcohol, attractive, out after midnight and alone.