Modern US Navy carrier air operations
Modern United States Navy aircraft carrier air operations include the operation of fixed wing and rotary aircraft on and around an aircraft carrier
Aircraft carrier
An aircraft carrier is a warship designed with a primary mission of deploying and recovering aircraft, acting as a seagoing airbase. Aircraft carriers thus allow a naval force to project air power worldwide without having to depend on local bases for staging aircraft operations...

 for performance of combat or non-combat missions. Modern United States Navy
United States Navy
The United States Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the United States Armed Forces and one of the seven uniformed services of the United States. The U.S. Navy is the largest in the world; its battle fleet tonnage is greater than that of the next 13 largest navies combined. The U.S...

 aircraft carrier flight operations are highly evolved, based on experiences dating back to 1922 with the USS Langley
USS Langley (CV-1)
USS Langley was the United States Navy's first aircraft carrier, converted in 1920 from the collier USS Jupiter , and also the U.S. Navy's first electrically propelled ship...

. Knowledge of and adherence to procedures by all participants is critical.

Flight deck crew

The flight deck
Flight deck
The flight deck of an aircraft carrier is the surface from which its aircraft take off and land, essentially a miniature airfield at sea. On smaller naval ships which do not have aviation as a primary mission, the landing area for helicopters and other VTOL aircraft is also referred to as the...

 crews of a Carrier Air Wing wear colored jerseys to distinguish their functions.

Colors task
  • Aircraft handling officers
  • Catapult and arresting gear officers
  • Plane directors – authoritative for all movement of all aircraft on the flight/hangar deck
  • Catapult and arresting gear crews
  • Air wing maintenance personnel
  • Air wing quality control personnel
  • Cargo-handling personnel
  • Ground support equipment (GSE) troubleshooters
  • Hook runners
  • Photographer's mates
  • Helicopter landing signal enlisted personnel (LSE)
  • White
  • Quality Assurance (QA)
  • Squadron plane inspectors
  • Landing signal officer (LSO)
  • Air transfer officers (ATO)
  • Liquid oxygen (LOX) crews
  • Safety observers
  • Medical personnel
  • Red
  • Ordnancemen
  • Crash and salvage crews
  • Explosive ordnance disposal (EOD)
  • Firefighter
  • Blue
  • Plane handlers (Trainees)
  • Chocks and chains – entry-level flight-deck workers under the yellowshirts
  • Aircraft elevator operators
  • Tractor drivers
  • Messengers and phone talkers
  • Purple
  • Aviation fuel handlers
  • Brown
  • Air wing plane captains: squadron personnel that prepare aircraft for flight
  • Air wing line leading petty officers
  • White/black
  • Final checker (inspector).

  • Everyone associated with the flight deck has a specific job, which is indicated by the color of his deck jersey, float coat and helmet. Rank is also denoted by the pattern of trousers worn by flight deck crew:
    • Woodland & Desert camouflage – Denotes junior sailors and petty officer
      Petty Officer
      A petty officer is a non-commissioned officer in many navies and is given the NATO rank denotion OR-6. They are equal in rank to sergeant, British Army and Royal Air Force. A Petty Officer is superior in rank to Leading Rate and subordinate to Chief Petty Officer, in the case of the British Armed...

    • Khaki or Desert camouflage pants – Denotes chief petty
      Chief Petty Officer
      A chief petty officer is a senior non-commissioned officer in many navies and coast guards.-Canada:"Chief Petty Officer" refers to two ranks in the Canadian Navy...

      , warrant
      Warrant Officer
      A warrant officer is an officer in a military organization who is designated an officer by a warrant, as distinguished from a commissioned officer who is designated an officer by a commission, or from non-commissioned officer who is designated an officer by virtue of seniority.The rank was first...

       and commissioned officers. This keeps in line with the traditional khaki color of CPO and officer service uniforms.

    Air Officer

    Also known as the air boss, the air officer (along with his assistant, the miniboss) is responsible for all aspects of operations involving aircraft including the hangar deck, the flight deck, and airborne aircraft out to 5 nautical miles from the carrier. From his perch in Primary Flight Control (PriFly, or the "tower"), he and his assistant maintain visual control of all aircraft operating in the carrier control zone (surface to infinity, out to 5 nmi), and aircraft desiring to operate within the control zone must obtain his approval prior to entry.

    The work clothing color of an air boss is beige.

    Catapult Officer

    Also known as shooters, catapult officers are naval aviator
    Naval Aviator
    A United States Naval Aviator is a qualified pilot in the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.-Naming Conventions:Most Naval Aviators are Unrestricted Line Officers; however, a small number of Limited Duty Officers and Chief Warrant Officers are also trained as Naval Aviators.Until 1981...

    s or Naval Flight Officer
    Naval Flight Officer
    A Naval Flight Officer is an aeronautically designated commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft...

    s and are responsible for all aspects of catapult maintenance and operation. They ensure that there is sufficient wind (direction and speed) over the deck and that the steam settings for the catapults will ensure that aircraft have sufficient flying speed at the end of the stroke.

    Aircraft Handling Officer

    Also known as the aircraft handler (or just handler), the AHO is responsible for arrangement of aircraft about the flight and hangar decks. The handler is charged with avoiding a "locked deck," where there are too many misplaced aircraft such that no more can land prior to a rearrangement. The handler works in Flight Deck Control, where scale model aircraft on a flight deck representation are used to represent actual aircraft status on the flight deck.

    Aircraft directors

    Aircraft directors, as their name implies, are responsible for directing all aircraft movement on the hangar and flight decks. They are enlisted
    Enlisted rank
    An enlisted rank is, in most Militaries, any rank below a commissioned officer or warrant officer. The term can also be inclusive of non-commissioned officers...

     Aviation Boatswain's Mate
    Aviation Boatswain's Mate
    Aviation Boatswain's Mate is a United States Navy occupational rating.-Aviation Boatswain's Mates:Aviation Boatswain's Mates operate, maintain, and perform organizational maintenance on catapults, arresting gear, barricades, and associated flightdeck launching and recovery equipment; operate and...

    s. They are colloquially known as Bears and those that work in the Hanger go by the term Hanger Rat On some carriers, commissioned officers known as flight deck officers also serve as aircraft directors. During flight operations or during a flight deck "re-spot", there are typically about 12-15 yellowshirts on the flight deck, and they report directly to the "handler". Although aircraft directors are often used at airports ashore, their function is particularly crucial in the confined flight deck environment where aircraft are routinely taxied within inches of one another, often with the ship rolling and pitching beneath. Directors wear yellow and use a complex set of hand signals (lighted yellow wands at night) to direct aircraft.

    Landing Signal Officer

    The Landing Signal Officer
    Landing signal officer
    Landing Signal Officers are naval aviators specially trained to facilitate the "safe and expeditious recovery" of naval aircraft aboard aircraft carriers. Originally LSOs were responsible for bringing aircraft aboard ship using hand signals...

     (LSO) is a qualified, experienced pilot who is responsible for the visual control of aircraft in the terminal phase of the approach immediately prior to landing. LSOs ensure that approaching aircraft are properly configured, and they monitor aircraft glidepath angle, attitude, and lineup. They communicate with landing pilots via voice radio and light signals.

    Arresting Gear Officer

    The Arresting Gear Officer (AGO) is responsible for arresting gear
    Arresting gear
    Arresting gear, or arrestor gear, is the name used for mechanical systems designed to rapidly decelerate an aircraft as it lands. Arresting gear on aircraft carriers is an essential component of naval aviation, and it is most commonly used on CATOBAR and STOBAR aircraft carriers. Similar systems...

     operation, settings, and monitoring landing area deck status (the deck is either clear and ready to land aircraft or foul and not ready for landing). Arresting gear engines are set to apply varying resistance (weight setting) to the arresting cable based on the type of aircraft landing.

    Cyclic operations

    Cyclic Operations refers to the launching and recovering of aircraft in groups or "cycles". Launching and recovering aircraft aboard aircraft carriers is best accomplished non-concurrently, and cyclic operations are the norm for U.S. aircraft carriers. Cycles are generally about one and a half hours long, although cycles as short as an hour or as long as an hour and 45 minutes are not uncommon. The shorter the cycle, the fewer aircraft can be launched/recovered; the longer the cycle, the more critical fuel becomes for airborne aircraft.

    "Events" are typically made up of about 12–20 aircraft and are sequentially numbered throughout the 24 hour fly day. Prior to flight operations, the aircraft on the flight deck are arranged ("spotted") so that Event 1 aircraft can easily be taxied to the catapults once they have been started and inspected. Once the Event 1 aircraft are launched (which takes generally about 15 minutes), Event 2 aircraft are readied for launch about an hour later (based on the cycle time in use). The launching of all these aircraft makes room on the flight deck to then land aircraft. Once Event 2 aircraft are launched, Event 1 aircraft are recovered, fueled, re-armed, re-spotted and readied to be used for Event 3. Event 3 aircraft are launched, followed by the recovery of Event 2 aircraft (and so on throughout the fly day). After the last recovery of the day, all of the aircraft are generally stored up on the bow (because the landing area back aft needs to be kept clear until the last aircraft lands). They are then re-spotted about the flight deck for the next morning's first launch.


    Approximately 45 minutes before launch time, flight crews conduct walk-around inspections and man their aircraft. Approximately 30 minutes prior to launch, aircraft are started, and pre-flight inspections are conducted. Approximately 15 minutes prior to launch, ready aircraft are taxied from their parked positions and spotted on or immediately behind the catapults. The ship is turned into the natural wind. As an aircraft is taxied onto the catapult, the wings are spread and a large jet blast deflector
    Jet blast deflector
    A jet blast deflector or blast fence is a safety device that redirects the high energy exhaust from a jet engine to prevent damage and injury. The structure must be strong enough to withstand heat and high speed air streams as well as dust and debris carried by the turbulent air...

     (JBD) panel rises out of the flight deck behind the engine exhaust. Prior to final catapult hook up, Final Checkers (inspectors) make final exterior checks of the aircraft, and loaded weapons are armed by Ordnancemen.

    Catapult launch

    Catapult hook up is accomplished by placing the aircraft launch bar, which is attached to the front of the aircraft's nose landing gear, into the catapult
    Aircraft catapult
    An aircraft catapult is a device used to launch aircraft from ships—in particular aircraft carriers—as a form of assisted take off. It consists of a track built into the flight deck, below which is a large piston or shuttle that is attached through the track to the nose gear of the aircraft, or in...

     shuttle (which is attached to the catapult gear under the flight deck). An additional bar, the holdback, is connected from the rear of the nose landing gear to the carrier deck. The holdback fitting keeps the aircraft from moving forward prior to catapult firing. In final preparation for launch, a series of events happens in rapid succession, indicated by hand/light signals:
    • The catapult is put into tension whereby all the slack is taken out of the system with steam.
    • The pilot is then signaled to advance the throttles to full (or "military") power, and he takes his feet off the brakes.
    • The pilot checks engine instruments and "wipes out" (moves) all the control surfaces.
    • The pilot indicates that he is satisfied that his aircraft is ready for flight by saluting the Catapult Officer. At night, he turns on the aircraft's exterior lights to indicate he is ready.
    • During this time, two or more Final Checkers are observing the exterior of the aircraft for proper flight control movement, engine response, panel security and leaks.
    • Once satisfied, the Checkers give a thumbs up to the Cat Officer.
    • The Cat Officer makes a final check of catapult settings, wind, etc. and gives the signal to launch.
    • The catapult operator then pushes a button firing the catapult.

    Once the catapult fires, the hold-back breaks free as the shuttle moves rapidly forward, dragging the aircraft by the launch bar. The aircraft accelerates from zero (relative to the carrier deck) to approximately 150 knots in about 2 seconds. There is typically wind (natural or ship motion generated) over the flight deck, giving the aircraft additional lift.

    Post launch

    Procedures used after launch are based on the meteorological / environmental conditions (weather and daylight).

    Departure/recovery types

    There are three types of departure and recovery operations, which are referred to as case I, case II, and case III. Primary responsibility for adherence to the departure rests with the pilot; however, advisory control is given by the ship's Departure Control radar operators, including when dictated by weather conditions.

    Case I: When it is anticipated that flights will not encounter instrument conditions (instrument meteorological conditions
    Instrument meteorological conditions
    Instrument meteorological conditions is an aviation flight category that describes weather conditions that require pilots to fly primarily by reference to instruments, and therefore under Instrument Flight Rules , rather than by outside visual references under Visual Flight Rules . Typically, this...

    ) during daytime departures/recoveries, and the ceiling and visibility around the carrier are no lower than 3,000 feet and 5 nmi respectively.

    Immediately after becoming airborne, aircraft raise their landing gear and perform "clearing turns" to the right off the bow and to the left off the waist catapults. This ~10° check turn is to increase separation of (near) simultaneously launched aircraft from the waist/bow catapults. After the clearing turn, aircraft proceed straight ahead paralleling the ship's course at 500 feet until 7 nmi. Aircraft are then cleared to climb unrestricted in visual conditions.

    Case II: When it is anticipated that flights may encounter instrument conditions during a daytime departure/recovery, and the ceiling and visibility in the carrier control zone are no lower than 1,000 feet and 5 nmi respectively. Used for an overcast condition.

    After a clearing turn, aircraft proceed straight ahead at 500 feet paralleling ship's course. At 7 nmi, aircraft turn to intercept a 10-nmi arc about the ship, maintaining visual conditions until established outbound on their assigned departure radial, at which time they are free to climb through the weather. The 500-foot restriction is lifted after 7 nmi if the climb can be continued in visual conditions.

    Case III: When it is anticipated that flights will encounter instrument conditions during a departure/recovery because the ceiling or visibility around the carrier are lower than 1,000 feet and 5 nmi respectively; or for night time departures/recoveries.

    A minimum launch interval of 30 seconds is used between aircraft, which climb straight ahead. At 7 nmi, they turn to fly the 10-nmi arc until intercepting their assigned departure radial.

    Flight operations

    Aircraft are often launched from the carrier in a somewhat random order based on their deck positioning prior to launch. Therefore, aircraft working together on the same mission must rendezvous airborne. This is accomplished at a pre-determined location, usually at the in flight refueling tanker, overhead the carrier, or at an en route location. Properly equipped F/A-18E/F Super Hornets provide "organic" refueling, or U.S. Air Force (or other nation's) tankers provide "non-organic" tanking. After rendezvous/tanking, aircraft proceed on mission.

    All aircraft within the carrier's radar coverage (typically several hundred miles) are tracked and monitored. As aircraft enter the Carrier Control Area, a 50 nmi radius around the carrier, they are given more scrutiny. Once airwing aircraft have been identified, they are normally turned over to "Marshal Control" for further clearance to the "marshal pattern".

    Recovery operations

    As with departures, the type of recovery is based on the meteorological conditions and are referred to as case I, case II, or case III.

    Case I

    Aircraft awaiting recovery hold in the "port holding pattern", a left-hand circle tangent to the ship's course with the ship in the 3-o'clock position, and a maximum diameter of 5 nmi. Aircraft typically hold in close formations of two or more and are stacked at various altitudes based on their type/squadron. Minimum holding altitude is 2,000 feet, with a minimum of 1,000 feet vertical separation between holding altitudes. Flights arrange themselves to establish proper separation for landing. As the launching aircraft (from the subsequent event) clear the flight deck and landing area becomes clear, the lowest aircraft in holding descend and depart the stack in final preparation for landing. Higher aircraft descend in the stack to altitudes vacated by lower holding aircraft.
    The final descent from the bottom of the stack is planned so as to arrive at the "Initial" which is 3 miles astern the ship at 800 feet, paralleling the ship's course. The aircraft are then flown over the ship and "break" into the landing pattern, ideally establishing at 50-60 second interval on the aircraft in front of them.

    If there are too many (more than 6) aircraft in the landing pattern when a flight arrives at the ship, the flight leader initiates a "spin", climbing up slightly and executing a tight 360° turn within 3 nmi of the ship.

    The break is a level 180° turn made at 800 feet, descending to 600 feet when established downwind. Landing gear/flaps are lowered, and landing checks are completed. When abeam (directly aligned with) the landing area on downwind, the aircraft is 180° from the ship's course and approximately 1.5 miles from the ship, a position known as "the 180" (because of the angled flight deck, there is actually closer to 190° of turn required at this point). The pilot begins his turn to final while simultaneously beginning a gentle descent. At "the 90" the aircraft is at 450 feet, about 1.2 nmi from the ship, with 90° of turn to go. The final checkpoint for the pilot is crossing the ship's wake, at which time the aircraft should be approaching final landing heading and at ~350 feet. At this point, the pilot acquires the Optical Landing System (OLS), which is used for the terminal portion of the landing. During this time, the pilot's full attention is devoted to maintaining proper glideslope, lineup, and "angle of attack
    Angle of attack
    Angle of attack is a term used in fluid dynamics to describe the angle between a reference line on a lifting body and the vector representing the relative motion between the lifting body and the fluid through which it is moving...

    " until touchdown.

    Line up on landing area centerline is critical because it is only 120 feet wide, and aircraft are often parked within a few feet either side. This is accomplished visually during Case I using the painted "ladder lines" on the sides of the landing area and the centerline/drop line (see graphic).

    Maintaining radio silence, or "zip lip", during Case I launches and recoveries is the norm, breaking radio silence only for safety-of-flight issues.

    Case II

    This approach is utilized when weather conditions are such that the flight may encounter instrument conditions during the descent, but visual conditions of at least 1,000 feet ceiling and 5 miles visibility exist at the ship. Positive radar control is utilized until the pilot is inside 10 nmi and reports the ship in sight.

    Flight leaders follow Case III approach procedures outside of 10 nmi. When within 10 nmi with the ship in sight, flights are shifted to tower control and proceed as in Case I.

    Case III

    This approach is utilized whenever existing weather at the ship is below Case II minimums and during all night flight operations. Case III recoveries are made with single aircraft, with no formations except in an emergency situation).

    All aircraft are assigned holding at a marshal fix, typically about 180° from the ship's Base Recovery Course (BRC), at a unique distance and altitude. The holding pattern is a left-hand, 6-minute racetrack pattern.
    Each pilot adjusts his holding pattern to depart marshal precisely at the assigned time.
    Aircraft departing marshal will normally be separated by 1 minute. Adjustments may be directed by the ship's Carrier Air Traffic Control Center (CATCC), if required, to ensure proper separation.
    In order to maintain proper separation of aircraft, parameters must be precisely flown. Aircraft descend at 250 knots and 4,000 feet per minute until 5,000 is reached, at which point the descent is lessened to 2,000 feet per minute. Aircraft transition to a landing configuration (wheels/flaps down) at 10-nmi from the ship.

    Since the landing area is angled approximately 10° from the axis of the ship, aircraft final approach heading (Final Bearing) is approximately 10° less than the ship's heading (Base Recovery Course). Aircraft on the standard approach (called the CV-1) correct from the marshal radial to the final bearing at 20 miles. As the ship moves through the water, the aircraft must make continual, minor corrections to the right to stay on the final bearing. If the ship makes course correction (which is often done in order to make the relative wind (natural wind plus ship's movement generated wind) go directly down the angle deck, or to avoid obstacles), lineup to center line must be corrected. The further the aircraft is from the ship, the larger the correction required.

    Aircraft pass through the 6-mile fix at 1,200 feet altitude, 150 knots, in the landing configuration and commence slowing to final approach speed. At 3 nmi, aircraft begin a gradual (700 foot per minute or 3-4°) descent until touchdown. In order to arrive precisely in position to complete the landing visually (at 3/4 nmi behind the ship at 400 ft), a number of instrument systems/procedures are used. Once the pilot acquires visual contact with the optical landing aids, the pilot will "call the ball". Control will then be assumed by the LSO, who issues final landing clearance with a "roger ball" call.
    When other systems are not available, aircraft on final approach will continue their descent using distance/altitude checkpoints (e.g, 1200 ft at 3 nmi, 860 ft at 2 nmi, 460 ft at 1 nmi, 360 ft at the "ball" call). Pilots are taught to always back up their other approach systems with this basic procedure.


    The Carrier Controlled Approach is analogous to ground-controlled approach using the ship's precision approach radar
    Precision Approach Radar
    Precision approach radar is a type of radar guidance system designed to provide lateral and vertical guidance to an aircraft pilot for landing, until the landing threshold is reached. After the aircraft reaches the decision height or decision altitude , guidance is advisory only...

    . Pilots are told (via voice radio) where they are in relation to glideslope and final bearing (e.g., "above glideslope, right of centerline"). The pilot then makes a correction and awaits further information from the controller.

    The Instrument Carrier Landing System (ICLS) is very similar to civilian ILS
    Instrument Landing System
    An instrument landing system is a ground-based instrument approach system that provides precision guidance to an aircraft approaching and landing on a runway, using a combination of radio signals and, in many cases, high-intensity lighting arrays to enable a safe landing during instrument...

     systems and is used on virtually all Case III approaches. A "bullseye" is displayed for the pilot, indicating aircraft position in relation to glideslope and final bearing. The Automatic Carrier Landing System (ACLS) is similar to the ICLS, in that it displays "needles" that indicate aircraft position in relation to glideslope and final bearing. An approach utilizing this system is said to be a "Mode II" approach. Additionally, some aircraft are capable of "coupling" their autopilot
    An autopilot is a mechanical, electrical, or hydraulic system used to guide a vehicle without assistance from a human being. An autopilot can refer specifically to aircraft, self-steering gear for boats, or auto guidance of space craft and missiles...

    s to the glideslope/azimuth signals received via data link
    Data link
    In telecommunication a data link is the means of connecting one location to another for the purpose of transmitting and receiving information. It can also refer to a set of electronics assemblies, consisting of a transmitter and a receiver and the interconnecting data telecommunication circuit...

     from the ship, allowing for a "hands-off" approach. If the pilot keeps the autopilot coupled until touchdown, this is referred to as a "Mode I" approach. If the pilot maintains a couple until the visual approach point (at 3/4 mile) this is referred to as a "Mode IIA" approach.

    The Long Range Laser Lineup System (LLS) uses eye-safe laser
    A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of photons. The term "laser" originated as an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation...

    s, projected aft of the ship, to give pilots a visual indication of their lineup with relation to centerline. The LLS is typically used from as much as 10 nmi until the landing area can be seen at around 1 nmi.

    Regardless of the case recovery or approach type, the final portion of the landing (3/4 mile to touchdown) is flown visually. Line up with the landing area is achieved by lining up painted lines on the landing area centerline with a set of lights that drops from the back of the flight deck. Proper glideslope is maintained using the Fresnel lens Optical Landing System
    Optical Landing System
    An optical landing system is used to give glidepath information to pilots in the terminal phase of landing on an aircraft carrier...

     (FLOLS), Improved Fresnel Lens Optical Landing System (IFLOLS), or Manually Operated Visual Landing Aid System (MOVLAS).

    If an aircraft is pulled off the approach (if the landing area is not clear, for example) or is waved off by the LSO (for poor parameters or a fouled deck), or misses all the arresting wires ("bolters
    Bolter (aviation)
    In naval aviation, a bolter is when an aircraft attempting to land on the flight deck of an aircraft carrier touches down, but fails to catch an arrestor cable and come to a stop...

    "), the pilot climbs straight ahead to 1,200 feet to the "bolter/wave-off pattern" and waits for instructions from approach control.


    Immediately upon touchdown, the pilot advances the throttles to full power so that a touch and go (known as a "Bolter") can be executed in the event that all trap wires have been missed. Occasionally, pilots will opt to advance the throttles to maximum power (full afterburner
    The AfterBurner is a lighting solution for the Game Boy Advance system that was created by Triton-Labs.Originally, was a website created to petition Nintendo to put some kind of light in their Game Boy Advance system...

    ). Ideally, the tailhook
    A tailhook, also arresting hook or arrester hook, is a device attached to the empennage of some military fixed wing aircraft...

     catches the target wire (or cross deck pendant), which abruptly slows the aircraft from approach speed to a full stop in about two seconds. As the aircraft's forward motion stops, the throttles are reduced to idle, and the hook is raised on the aircraft director's signal.
    The aircraft director then directs the aircraft to clear the landing area in preparation for the next landing. Remaining ordnance is de-armed, wings are folded, and aircraft are taxied to parking spots and shut down. Immediately upon shutdown (or sometimes prior to that), the aircraft is re-fueled, re-armed, and inspected, minor maintenance is performed, and it is often re-spot prior to the next launch cycle.

    Carrier qualifications

    The purpose of carrier qualifications (CQ) is to give pilots a dedicated opportunity to develop fundamental skills associated with operating fixed wing, carrier based aircraft and demonstrate acceptable levels of proficiency required for qualification. During CQ, there are typically far fewer aircraft on the flight deck than during cyclic operations. This allows for much easier simultaneous launch and recovery of aircraft. The waist catapults (that are located in the landing area) are generally not used. Aircraft can trap and be taxied immediately to a bow catapult for launch.

    Types and requirements

    Carrier qualification is performed for new pilots and periodically for experienced pilots to gain/maintain carrier landing currency. Requirements (the number of landings/touch-and-goes required) are based on the experience of the pilot and the length of time since his last arrested landing.

    Undergraduate CQ
    is for Student Naval Aviators, currently completed in the T-45 Goshawk
    T-45 Goshawk
    |-Avionics:Data from *Smiths Industries, Ltd. AN/USN-2 Standard Attitude Heading and Reference System . Later replaced by the BAE/Marconi AN/ASN-180 Navigation Guidance System ....

     and consisting of 14 day landings (10 arrested; up to 4 can be "touch and goes").

    Initial CQ
    is flown in a newly designated aviator's first fleet aircraft (FA-18, EA-6B, or E-2C), consisting of 12 day (minimum 10 arrested) and 8 night landings (minimum 6 arrested).

    Transition CQ
    is for experienced pilots transitioning from one type of aircraft to another, consisting of 12 day landings (minimum 10 arrested) and 6 night arrested landings.

    Requalification CQ
    is for experienced pilots that have not flown from the carrier within the previous six months, consisting of 6 day arrested landings and 4 night arrested landings.

    See also

    • Naval aviation
      Naval aviation
      Naval aviation is the application of manned military air power by navies, including ships that embark fixed-wing aircraft or helicopters. In contrast, maritime aviation is the operation of aircraft in a maritime role under the command of non-naval forces such as the former RAF Coastal Command or a...

    • Carrier-based aircraft
      Carrier-based aircraft
      Carrier-based aircraft are military aircraft designed specifically for operations from aircraft carriers. The term is generally applied only to fixed-wing aircraft, as naval helicopters are able to operate from a wider variety of aviation-capable ships. Carrier-based aircraft must be relatively...

    • List of United States Navy aircraft squadrons
    • List of Deactivated United States Navy aircraft squadrons
    • List of military aircraft of the United States (naval) / List of US Naval aircraft
    • United States Naval Aviator
      United States Naval Aviator
      A United States Naval Aviator is a qualified pilot in the United States Navy, Marine Corps or Coast Guard.-Naming Conventions:Most Naval Aviators are Unrestricted Line Officers; however, a small number of Limited Duty Officers and Chief Warrant Officers are also trained as Naval Aviators.Until 1981...

    • Naval Flight Officer
      Naval Flight Officer
      A Naval Flight Officer is an aeronautically designated commissioned officer in the United States Navy or United States Marine Corps that specializes in airborne weapons and sensor systems. NFOs are not pilots per se, but they may perform many "co-pilot" functions, depending on the type of aircraft...

    • United States Marine Corps Aviation
      United States Marine Corps Aviation
      United States Marine Corps Aviation is the air component of the United States Marine Corps. Marine aviation has a very different mission and operation than its ground counterpart, and thus, has many of its own histories, traditions, terms, and procedures....

    • Military aviation
      Military aviation
      Military aviation is the use of aircraft and other flying machines for the purposes of conducting or enabling warfare, including national airlift capacity to provide logistical supply to forces stationed in a theater or along a front. Air power includes the national means of conducting such...

    • NATOPS
      The Naval Air Training and Operating Procedures Standardization program prescribes general flight and operating instructions and procedures applicable to the operation of all US naval aircraft and related activities...

    • Arresting gear
      Arresting gear
      Arresting gear, or arrestor gear, is the name used for mechanical systems designed to rapidly decelerate an aircraft as it lands. Arresting gear on aircraft carriers is an essential component of naval aviation, and it is most commonly used on CATOBAR and STOBAR aircraft carriers. Similar systems...

    • Tailhook
      A tailhook, also arresting hook or arrester hook, is a device attached to the empennage of some military fixed wing aircraft...

    External links

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