What is an Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist?
The navy is an important part of the national defence of a country. It provides security at sea, and it is the military branch that is responsible for maritime operations. Many countries, including the United States, operate and maintain a fleet of aircraft carriers, which are large naval ships that can perform airborne operations while at sea.
Aircraft carriers are the pride of the Navy. Up to 30 fighter aircraft can be stationed on an aircraft carrier, and they can be launched anytime during a crisis situation. However, because the launch and landing space is limited on an aircraft carrier, it has advanced launch and recovery gear, which are operated, maintained and repaired by aircraft launch and recovery specialists.
This is a very important position aboard a naval aircraft carrier since the safety and speed of airborne naval operations directly depend on aircraft launch and recovery specialists to operate equipment such as catapults, and recovery equipment (also called arresting gear).
What does an Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist do?
Fighter jets are launched from aircraft carriers using catapults, which are the main components of launch gear. When they return from missions, fighter planes are recovered using arresting gears, which consists of special-purpose cables and hooks that quickly decelerate the aircraft, because, unlike on air force bases located on the ground, there is not enough space to land in the conventional manner.
Additionally, aircraft launch and recovery specialists operate and maintain visual landing aid equipment, which helps the pilots to land their aircraft using visual orientation provided by their fellow crewmen on the aircraft carrier deck. The responsibilities of aircraft launch and recovery specialists include maintaining and repairing catapults, arresting cables, visual landing equipment, hydraulic pumps and other gear.
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists work in conditions of loud noises and exhaust gases created by aircraft engines, which means that they must follow proper safety procedures during operations. Crewmen usually wear special-purpose earmuffs that limit the amount of hazardous noise and protect them from hearing loss.
Recovery and launch gear is usually operated through consoles, and there is a permanent requirement of testing the equipment to ensure that no malfunction occurs, which may create unexpected obstacles during a military mission or training drills. Aircraft launch and recovery specialists may also work on air bases located on land, where they may be required to install safety equipment such as crash barriers.
What is the workplace of an Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist like?
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists work aboard naval aircraft carriers. They are grouped in crews that work on the deck of vessels. The work environment is noisy, so they are expected to wear hearing protection earmuffs and helmets for head protection when they are on duty.
Aircraft launch and recovery specialists may also be assigned to work on land-based air stations where they are in charge of installing safety barriers and equipment that minimizes the impact during a potential aircraft crash. Because the work environment creates the risk of accidents, specialists are required to maintain focus and follow proper safety procedures for their own protection and injury prevention.
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialists are also known as:
Aircraft Launch and Recovery Equipment Maintenance Technician