The Pilots Federation is a secretive organization that oversees and represents the galaxy's independent pilots, almost all of whom are licensed members and granted the title "commander". Since its founding in 2805, the Pilots Federation has amassed enormous wealth and influence, but always maintained political neutrality, dedicating itself to supporting pilots rather than nations or political factions. Despite the organization's prominence, it directly controls only a handful of systems: the Pilots' Federation Local Branch controls LHS 3447, Asellus Primus, and the main headquarters of Shinrarta Dezhra, and the Pilots' Federation Administration controls the Pilots' Federation District reserved for newly licensed commanders. It also operates the ubiquitous GalNet data network, which is its primary source of income, and holds the authority to place systems under permit restrictions at the request of a faction or in response to the presence of significant hazards or threats.
All Pilots Federation pilots are given ranks based on their achievements and experience. Pilots with higher ranks gain access to increasingly lucrative opportunities. A pilot's rank can be improved through activities in six different fields: trade, exploration, combat, mercenary work, exobiology, and participation in the CQC Championship. Pilots who achieve a rank of Elite in any field are rewarded with the permit to Shinrarta Dezhra, which contains Founders World and the station Jameson Memorial, where all ships and modules are available for purchase in one place at a 10% discount. Additionally, Elite-ranked pilots receive a universal 2.5% discount that applies to Outfitting services at all ports across the galaxy.
The following is a list of Pilots Federation ranks, from lowest to highest, in the six formally-tracked career fields.
|Mostly Harmless||Mostly Penniless||Mostly Aimless||Mostly Helpless||Mostly Defenceless||Mostly Directionless|
|Elite (0 - V)||Elite (0 - V)||Elite (0 - V)||Elite (0 - V)||Elite (0 - V)||Elite (0 - V)|
It is possible to reach Triple Elite status in a Sidewinder MkI without spending credits on other ships, excluding rebuys; this was accomplished by CMDR Peter Perfect on November 12, 3303. It is also possible to reach Triple Elite without spending credits on fuel; this was almost accomplished by CMDR Roobarb, who spent only 10 credits over the seven weeks it took him to reach Triple Elite.
Formed in 2805 after the great surge in private ownership of smaller starships, the Pilots Federation soon found a role as a conduit for trade route information exchange between trusted pilots and provided the infrastructure for a mutual protection scheme against the rising scourge of interstellar pirates.
Planet-siders began to distrust the generally itinerant nature of starship captains, who always seemed willing and able to jump to a new system before the law caught up with them. The Pilots Federation’s zero tolerance policy of dishonourable behaviour amongst its members is enforced by a system of bounties automatically placed on the heads of transgressors.
This built a galaxy-wide respect for the badge, which then started to be worn with pride by members. However, the organization’s official adoption of the 9-level ‘kill tally’ ranking system (Harmless through to the coveted Elite status) ensured the Pilots Federation retained a level of blood-thirsty notoriety.
Over the centuries the Pilots Federation has remained secretive in nature and neutral in conflicts, and has grown into one of the dominant financial superpowers of the galaxy through its GalNet data network. Originally a star chart, ship data and bounty management system, GalNet has evolved into an effective galactic infrastructure and content monopoly on news, market pricing and communication systems. This has not been without controversy, with periodic claims of data hoarding and abuse of its position.
It’s not surprising that an organization founded on status, and with such influence and power, has several cliques (The Dark Wheel being the most infamous). Or that those of Elite rank have further exploited their status and the incredible demand for their services, by forming an organization within an organization; the Elite Pilots Federation.
Relentless, increasingly well organized piracy and the need to maintain their reputation and influence as the best of the best caused the Elite Pilots Federation to start opening its membership to candidates from the Deadly rank who were able to pass a rigorous test and then, as demand continued to soar, to those from the Dangerous rank.
The Pilots Federation has eschewed being tied to any particular system in favour of roaming the stars. With one exception – the Founders World.
The elusive Founders World system is governed by the Elite Pilots Federation, and run exclusively for the benefit of their members. Its location is closely guarded, heavily protected, and the subject of extensive misinformation on GalNet.
Maybe one day you'll be one of the Elite who get to go there…
— Newsletter #22
The Origin of the Pilots Federation
Continuing our popular series on significant episodes from human history, noted historian Sima Kalhana discusses the foundation of the Pilots Federation.
"The Pilots Federation was established in 2805 in response to a surge in private-starship ownership. It was created principally to allow pilots to share reliable trade-route information, and to provide them with a system of mutual protection against the rising scourge of interstellar piracy."
"At the time, independent pilots were generally mistrusted, the itinerant nature of their profession giving rise to perceptions of irresponsibility. The Pilots Federation's strict code of conduct put an end to this, and over time a galaxy-wide respect for its members emerged."
"As piracy became more prevalent, the Pilots Federation started issuing bounties on known pirate vessels. Some of those outside the organisation condemned the initiative as bloodthirsty, but few were able to argue with the impact it had on piracy. Shortly thereafter, the Pilots Federation introduced an official ranking system to reflect the number of combat victories achieved by each of its members. Pilots who accumulated the largest number of kills were awarded the title of Elite – a citation that became highly coveted among independent pilots."
"The Pilots Federation derives the bulk of its wealth from the GalNet data network. Originally a system of ship, bounty and star-chart data, it evolved into an interstellar aggregator of market information and galactic news. By 3300, the Pilots Federation was not only the dominant provider of this information, it was also the main manufacturer of the hardware and software serving this data. Today, Pilots Federation systems are fitted as standard on virtually all independent starships."
"In 3290 the Pilots Federation expanded its ranking system to encompass the fields of trade and exploration. In 3301 it expanded it again to include pilots who had distinguished themselves in the Close Quarters Combat championships."
"The Pilots Federation has always remained politically neutral, avowing that it exists to support pilots rather than nationalities or political factions. The organisation is based in the Shinrarta Dezhra system, which can be accessed only by invitation. Receiving an invitation is typically dependent on achieving a high rank in the Pilots Federation. This stipulation has contributed to perceptions of the organisation as secretive – a perception compounded by the fact that the Pilots Federation has very little direct interaction with the public."
Pilots Federation Secrecy
The Pilots Federation in many ways is a secretive organisation. This in part reinforces its status of neutrality. It exists to support pilots, not nationalities or political factions. Over the years this has led to its acceptance (albeit grudging in some cases) in practically all human domain.
Despite its ubiquitous presence it has very little direct dealings with the public. Even member pilots tend to interact via the networked rankings and bounties system. The prime exception to this is registration. A pilot has to register in person for their PF license. Registration is performed at offices throughout human habited space.
The PF represents the nearest thing to law in uncontrolled and ungoverned space. Their existence provides a safety net for human expansion in space beyond the major factions.
The Elite Federation of Pilots (EFP) continues as a select and extremely secretive group within the larger organization.
Much of what the Pilots Federation does revolves around secrecy; and this has many layers. Within the Pilots Federation, the Elite Federation of Pilots is even more mysterious and secretive, and at the centre of that is the elusive 'Founders World'.
It is the only system directly controlled by the EFP, and even its location is closely guarded. The secrecy is maintained by the EFP using 'misinformation' - there are a great many rumours of its rough location - and they all contradict each other. Only a select few - the members of the EFP - know the truth.
The system is governed by the EFP and it is here that the organisation's headquarters is based.
EFP members are allowed to retire here in relative anonymity.
Pilots Federation Interests
The Pilots Federation as an organisation controls a vast financial empire. This is not public knowledge, although the major intelligence services are aware of the fact. However for the most part these financial resources are used to improve safety for pilots and for funding bounties where local authorities do not (or in uncontrolled space), some governments have been known to take advantage of this.
The Pilots Federation also takes a private interest in the independent venture with new colonies, this will typically be masked by front companies. Only a handful of systems fall directly under the Pilots Federation's control: Shinrarta Dezhra, LHS 3447, Asellus Primus, and the Pilots' Federation District.
As well as providing funds for bounties it also receives transaction fees for completed bounties that are processed through the PF bounty system - and in many cases retains unclaimed bounties where, for whatever reason, the pilot who has earned it doesn't claim it.
By far the most significant contribution to the Pilots Federation's finances is the near monopoly it has on the embedded ship and station systems.
Pilots Federation's Near Monopoly
Historically the Pilots Federation has been a trusted source of information for pilots. As humanity expanded into space that need for information continued to grow.
Before 3100 they provided data for many ship and station manufacturers. After 3100 in an understated, but effective campaign of acquisitions and mergers they became the dominant provider of this data as well as the hardware and software solutions serving that data.
From star chart data, ship data and bounty management systems the Pilots Federation expanded their data sources to include markets, newsfeeds and communication systems.
In 3300 the Pilots Federation's GalNet system has a near monopoly on all shipboard and station embedded systems. The systems are fitted as standard on nearly all independent ships and even some militaries. It's a testament to the trusted nature of the PF that this monopoly has occurred with the little resistance bar some backroom negotiations.
Pilot's Federation Influence
Officially, the Pilots Federation is apolitical: as an organisation it does not interfere with the internal workings of systems or factions. However this official stance is a misnomer. The PF wields considerable power through its web of political contacts as well as the application of the bounty system and control of the ship and station embedded systems.
It also uses a lot of soft power by providing pilot safety support throughout human space.
There are also known cliques within the PF (The Dark Wheel is probably the most famous) that have their own agendas. Officially these are discouraged, but in an organisation so large they are tolerated as long as they don't overstep the mark.
In 3100 the Pilots Federation began issuing modified version of its 'wings' badge that included the pilot's rating written across it in capitals, and made official the names of these ratings, starting with 'Harmless, then 'Mostly Harmless', all the way to 'Elite'. The most coveted was the 'Elite' badge, and the first of these was awarded to Commander Peter Jameson, who wore it on the rear of his Cobra MkIII for the rest of his life.
Before long this small and highly respected group of pilots with these coveted badges became known as 'The Elite'. They received all sorts of offers - both commercial and personal - (including offers of marriage!). The commercial side became valuable - whether it was transporting royalty or taking unknown items 'no questions asked'. The group was considered utterly trustworthy, with the confidentiality assured, and its members took this very seriously.
The Elite Federation of Pilots
As their reputation spread, the small group became overwhelmed. There was no way they could satisfy anything like all the demands on them, so they formed 'The Elite Federation of Pilots'. This was a sub-group of the Pilots Federation and it ran its own system to exchange offers between its members. It was quite secretive, and hugely respected, and there was a high demand for their services. Their main problem was how few 'Elite' pilots there were. Many pilots would get rich and retire long before they attained the coveted 'Elite' status; the fundamental problem was that the rating was a kill count. Wise members of the group realised that, in fact, they were no better pilots than some younger pilots with much lower ratings - they had just been doing it for longer - though others outside the group didn't see it like that. They wanted the cachet of employing an 'Elite' pilot. They were also aware that the pirates were getting better. They were better organised than in the early days, and better equipped.
It is rumoured they run secret bases and have their own technologies, but what is known for certain is they are highly respected, and get generous discounts throughout human space. In practice the aura of secrecy proved a great strength. The EFP now has representatives throughout human space and beyond, and it is an organisation to which every pilot aspires to be a member.
The Pilots' Federation District
On April 20, 3305, Pilots' Federation spokesperson Gabriel Sanchos revealed plans to establish a restricted area of space for newly licensed Commanders called the Pilots' Federation District: "Following discussions with the three superpowers, representatives have acknowledged that independent pilots are a mainstay of the galactic community. As such, a Pilots' Federation District will be created for new Commanders, offering combat exercises and tailored assignments within several designated systems. The intention is to offer pilots an opportunity to complete contract assignments without exposing them to opportunistic criminals. Access to the district will depend on the possession of a permit granted to new Commanders alongside their Pilots' Federation license. This permit will be revoked once a certain level of experience has been acquired." Representatives of the Alliance, Empire and Federation each confirmed their approval. Their statements underscored the positive contributions made by licensed Commanders with regards to the galactic economy, exploration initiatives and the Thargoid threat.
- Tourist Beacon 0248
- GalNet: New Thargoid Interceptor Encountered
- GalNet: Conflict Between Federal Forces and Jupiter Division
- Frontier Forums: Triple Elite Decal?
- [https://forums.frontier.co.uk/showthread.php/390170-Triple-Elite-in-a-Sidewinder Frontier Forums: Triple Elite in a Sidewinder
- Frontier Forums: Triple Elite - Only 10cr Spent on Fuel
- Galactic News: The Origin of the Pilots Federation
- Tourist Beacon 0247
- Tourist Beacon 0251
- Tourist Beacon 0249
- Tourist Beacon 0250
- Tourist Beacon 0245
- Tourist Beacon 0246
- GalNet: Pilots' Federation Establishes Regulated Zone