When landing on aircraft carriers, a tailhook is used to snag one of the cables on the carrier deck, which slows the aircraft.

When the landing gear fails to deploy I have seen it is possible to make an emergency landing by landing on the belly - and I'm sure there are other options too.

However, what would a pilot do if the tailhook failed to deploy when landing on a carrier? Is the carrier deck long enough for a pilot to stop without the tailhook? What else could a pilot do in this situation?

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ It's not a rope. It's heavy duty cabling. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Dec 21, 2015 at 0:47
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Look up "bolter (aviation)" $\endgroup$
    – DJohnM
    Dec 21, 2015 at 1:09

1 Answer 1


The high landing speeds of modern jets mean that they cannot make anything but an arrested landing as the carrier flight deck is too small.The carriers usually have barricades to facilitate emergency landings. The following image shows a barricade.


Image source

The following image shows the barricade, raised.


Image source

The following image shows an aircraft using a barricade.The aircraft was unable to make a normal arrested recovery because of damaged landing gear.


"US Navy DN-SC-93-04867 to 04876 S-3A Viking emergency landing USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) animation" by PH3 Eric Hayhurst - This Image was released by the United States Navy with the ID DN-SC-93-04867 to 04876 Commons.

See here for some other cases where barricades were used.

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    $\begingroup$ I'd clarify, the arresting net is only used in advance of them knowing the tail hook has not deployed. In the event they don't know until they touch down and miss the wire, its treated like a normal carrier landing which is at full military power, to provide for an immediate take-off should the approach fail. After that somebody should notice that the hook has failed to deploy or is damaged and start exploring other options, with diverting to a base at the top of the list if fuel is available. $\endgroup$
    – Ron Beyer
    Dec 21, 2015 at 2:37
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    $\begingroup$ If the issue were simply a failed tail hook, I would think the best bet would be a midair refueling (or two) and a ground landing. I can't imagine that hitting that 'netting' would be particularly nice to the air frame. For a failed gear landing, that would seem to me to be the best option, since it prevents the plane from scraping along a runway waiting for metal/concrete friction to stop it. $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Dec 21, 2015 at 17:18
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    $\begingroup$ Where possible a net landing is certainly avoided: but if the fighter was always operating within 1 refuelling hop of a base, there wouldn't be much need for carriers! $\endgroup$
    – Jon Story
    Dec 23, 2015 at 1:19
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    $\begingroup$ The net usage is called a "nylon landing." $\endgroup$
    – Mike Brass
    Dec 28, 2017 at 7:21

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