Job Profiles

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist Job Profile & Required Skills

Looking to pursue a career as an Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist? Well, this is one of the exciting options to join the military, however, it requires tough training and in-depth technical knowledge along with hands-on experience to succeed as an aircraft launch and recovery specialist.

A large number of military flights take off and land on aircraft carriers every day and a successful launch and recovery of aircraft along with the safety of flight crews is of prime importance in every small and big mission.

Though it can an exciting career, it requires a lot of military training along with the education and training related to aircraft launch and recovery. So, it can be a super stressful job at times, however, if you are excited to become an aircraft launch and recovery specialist, this article is for you to have a rough idea about what it takes to become one, i.e. the job profile, role and responsibilities, education and training, required knowledge, and skills & abilities, etc.

aircraft launch and recovery specialist

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist Job Description/Job Profile

Aircraft launch and recovery specialists’ prime responsibility is to ensure the safety of aircraft as they launch from and return to aircraft carriers. This critical work requires operating and maintaining catapults, arresting gear, and other equipment used in aircraft carrier takeoff and landing operations.

Below is a quick list of responsibilities that make up the job profile of an aircraft launch and recovery specialist.

  • Ensure safe and speedy movement of aircraft on flight decks, hangar decks, and ashore.
  • Installing and removing chocks, tie downs, and tow bars.
  • Direct the movement and spot aircraft ashore and afloat.
  • Effectively use visual hand and light signals as required in landing recovery operations.
  • Stay up to date with the published safety regulations and follow the same.
  • Prepare aircraft recovery equipment for storage and shipment.
  • Coordinate recovery operations with other airfield operations.
  • Conduct crash rescue, firefighting, crash removal, and damage control duties.
  • Operate, inspect, and maintain emergency arresting gear systems for high performance military aircraft.
  • Operate pressurized hydraulic and pneumatic equipment utilizing both basic and precision tools.
  • Perform preventative and corrective maintenance on equipment and maintain the material condition of all assigned spaces.
  • Operate and maintain steam catapults, barricades, arresting gear, and associated equipment ashore and afloat.
  • Perform organizational maintenance on ground-handling equipment used for moving and hoisting of aircraft ashore and afloat.

Knowledge & Qualification Required for an Aircraft Launch & Recovery Specialist

Aircraft launch and recovery specialists must undergo complete basic military training, i.e. training in the classroom and in the field to cover tactical and survival skills, physical training, military life and customs, and weapons training. Then, they are trained specifically for aircraft launch and recovery skills through classes practical training that may include:

  • Operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment.
  • Installing and maintaining crash barriers and barricades.
  • Use of landing aids, arresting gear, and anchoring devices.
  • Care of airfield surfaces.
  • Operating communication systems.

With proper training aircraft launch and recovery specialists gain the following kinds of knowledge:

  • Practical knowledge of how to operate and maintain catapults, arresting gear, and associated mechanical, hydraulic, and control systems involved primarily in aircraft carrier takeoff and landing operations.
  • In depth knowledge of installing and maintaining visual landing aids; testing and maintaining launch and recovery equipment using electric and mechanical test equipment and hand tools.
  • Practical knowledge of activating airfield arresting systems, such as crash barriers and cables etc.
  • Knowledge of principles and best ways to  direct aircraft launch and recovery operations, maintaining logs of airplane launches, recoveries, and equipment maintenance during emergency situations.

Aircraft Launch and Recovery Specialist Skills & Abilities

Aircraft launch and recovery specialists work outdoors on aircraft carriers and operating and maintaining launch and recovery equipment requires precision and vigilance. It also requires excellent communication skills and the ability to work in extreme conditions, i.e. being exposed to noise and fumes from jet and helicopter engines.

Below are the key skills an aircraft launch and recovery specialist must have.

  • Critical thinking
  • Problem solving
  • Equipment operation & maintenance
  • Math & science skills
  • Technology design & control
  • Leadership
  • Control over nerves while doing hazardous tasks at times even in peacetime.
  • Be able to work in extreme conditions.

The Bottom Line

Aircraft launch and recovery specialist can be an exciting career for those who are looking for a technical role in the military, however, the job requires tough physical and mental training. I am sure with the above details, you can make an informed choice. Alternatively, if you are looking for a technical career that does not involve much stress, do check out these articles on low stress high paying jobs, and highest paying jobs without a degree.

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