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What happens if a fighter is unable to land on an aircraft carrier?

10 June 2024 to 14: 51
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What happens if a fighter is unable to land on an aircraft carrier?
Discover the challenges and solutions when a fighter fails to land on an aircraft carrier, one of the most complex maneuvers in naval aviation. Image: Nautical Defense/Disclosure

Discover the challenges and solutions when a fighter fails to land on an aircraft carrier, one of the most complex maneuvers in naval aviation.

United States Navy aircraft carriers They are true floating cities, with more than 6.000 crew and almost 100 jets on board. Every 20 seconds, a jet takes off or lands on this moving runway in the middle of the sea, using a technique called tail hook landing. But what happens if something goes wrong and the fighter is unable to land?

Tail hook landing is essential for landing on aircraft carriers. The fighter lowers a sturdy metal hook at the rear, which needs to grab one of the stop cables stretched across the runway. These cables are connected to a hydraulic system that quickly brakes the jet. If the hook does not catch the cable, the fighter may suffer a bolter, meaning it must take off again immediately.

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A bolter occurs when the fighter fails to secure the arrest cable and has to take off again

At that moment, the pilot accelerates to the maximum and climbs to try to land again on the aircraft carrier. It is a moment of pure adrenaline and requires a lot of skill from the pilot. When a bolter happens, the crew on deck must act quickly.

If the stop cable breaks, it needs to be replaced immediately. The crew is trained to perform this task accurately and quickly. Additionally, if the fighter jet crashes into the sea, a rescue helicopter is sent to rescue the pilot, who can eject from the plane in an emergency.

The Navy conducts daily exercises to prepare the crew for these situations

Pilots and deck crew practice emergency maneuvers, such as dealing with failed landings, fires and evacuations. They use specific hand signals to communicate, essential in a noisy and chaotic environment like the flight deck.

Landing a fighter on an aircraft carrier is one of the most challenging operations in naval aviation. When something goes wrong, the skill and training crew are crucial to ensuring the safety of everyone on board and the integrity of the valuable planes. These rigorous measures show the level of precision and dedication required to operate these gigantic floating cities.

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