On this answer to this question regarding the merits of angled flightdecks on aircraft carriers, @JanHudec makes this interesting observation:

You don't really have "two flight decks". The catapults are well distributed, but there is just one set of arresting wires, so while hit to the bow disabling catapults 1 and 2 would leave 3 and 4 available, hit to the landing area still prevents all landings. [Emphasis added.]

Why don't aircraft carriers have multiple redundant sets of arresting gear, to allow them to land aircraft even if one of the landing runways is disabled by battle damage?


2 Answers 2


Having a second set of 3-4 wires would need a longer deck. But if one set is damaged, so would this landing area, so we need 2 runways:

Doubling the size of the flight deck would result in a massive ship, and scaling doesn't favor something getting too big.

Consider the 1967 USS Forrestal fire, even if the deck were to be double the size allowing two landing runways, an attack or an explosion would spread easily across a flat surface and render the whole ship out of action when it comes to air ops.

Note that USS Forrestal was already engaged in combat. But since you have tagged it redundancy, the answer would likely be (although not this site's scope) military planning redundancy, not an engineering one, i.e., if engaged in combat, having more than one carrier is the redundancy to continue engaging in said combat (and land the other planes).

Of course not all freak accidents can be anticipated. Let's say something bad happens to the deck during peacetime, what's the worst that can happen? The airborne aviators unable to land will eject, and the rescue helicopters will bring them back, it's a monetary loss, but not loss of airborne lives.


If you’re talking about multiple landing areas (LAs), the idea has been considered by the Navy; early concepts of the Ford-Class carriers were large catamaran type vessels featuring parallel LAs. But the designs were excessively complex and expensive and not likely to survive to maturation.

Laying out additional arresting gear on the angled LA would present some difficulties in that an aircraft needs about 100-120 yards (300-360 ft) or so of rollout for the arresting gear to stop the aircraft without imposing excessive loads on the aircraft or flight crew. This requires increasing the length of the LA, increasing cost and complexity.

In general, flight ops often have alternate plans in place in the event the ship’s arresting gear cannot recover returning aircraft. Aircraft can trap aboard other carriers operating in the area (which happened during Desert Storm in 1991) or divert for tankers and/or land based airfields, fuel permitting.


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