103 – CATOBAR – Cyclic Operations
Cyclic operations refers to the launch and recovery cycle for 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 (Note, not to be used for CQ and re-qual)
Cycles (commonly called as “Event”)
“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, rearmed, respotted, 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 on the bow (because the landing area aft needs to be kept clear until the last aircraft lands). They are then respotted about the flight deck for the next morning’s first launch.
Length of an Event
Each cycle is approximately one hour and thirty minutes long (1+30 cycle). Although cycles as short as an hour or as long as an hour and 45 minutes are not uncommon.