Aircraft Launch and Recovery Officer ... (Military - Officer)  What They Do

Just the Facts


Aircraft launch and recovery officers work on aircraft carriers, where they plan and direct launch and recovery operations. They lead teams in the maintenance of catapults, arresting gear, and associated mechanical, hydraulic, and control systems. These officers and their staffs are responsible for ensuring the safe take off and landing of military aircraft.

This career is part of the Government and Public Administration cluster National Security pathway.


A person in this career:

  • Exercises approach control function for returning aircraft, using voice and/or automatic modes of operation; assigns approach sequences and times; transmits weather, altimeter, and other necessary information
  • Ensures readiness and safety of launching equipment
  • Ensures readiness of arresting gear, barricade, and visual landing aid systems
  • Plans, schedules, supervises and records preventive maintenance and repair of launch and recovery equipment; maintains inventory and custody of ready service spare parts and accessories
  • Trains and supervises plane handlers in spotting and moving planes
  • Trains and controls flight deck crash crews and fire crews during salvage, plane recovery, pilot rescue, plane jettisoning, or flight deck fires
  • Directs aircraft on predetermined glide path to landing area by voice-radio communication
  • Signals pilots in carrier approach and landings
  • Provides instruction and checks flights to ensure proficiency of controller personnel in all emergency procedures
  • Plans, coordinates, and directs research, design, development and testing of launching and recovery systems, landing aids, and fog modification systems

Working Conditions and Physical Demands

People who do this job report that:

  • You would often handle loads up to 10 lbs., sometimes up to 20 lbs. You might do a lot of walking or standing, or you might sit but use your arms and legs to control machines, equipment or tools.
  • Exposure to pollutants, gases, dust, fumes, odors, poor ventilation, etc.
  • Sound and noise levels are loud and distracting
  • Work in this occupation requires being outside most of the time

Working in this career involves (physical activities):

  • Identifying color and seeing differences in color, including shades and brightness
  • Judging how far away an object is, or which of several objects is closer or farther away
  • Seeing clearly at a distance
  • Seeing clearly up close
  • Seeing clearly in low light conditions
  • Seeing objects or movement to one's side when looking forward
  • Speaking clearly enough to be able to be understood by others

Work Hours and Travel

  • Irregular hours
  • Overnight travel
  • Overtime work
  • Rotating shift work
  • Weekend work