# Do carrier-borne aircraft pilots count the seconds on the downwind leg of the carrier?

On carrier landing, someone tells me that the pilots need to count several seconds on abeam leg of the landing pattern, in order to land precisely on the flight deck. Is that true? What do we call for this operation?

• Can you please add some supplemental data to your question such as a link to something indicating that this is a thing? I would think just by intuition that a pilot landing on an aircraft carrier could not use time as a measure of when to turn due to variables such as speed of the landing pad(ship), speed of the water itself, and wind. For example, you could be confusing this with instrument procedures that would instruct a pilot to fly for 1 or two minutes from a fix, the fix being the carrier in this case. Apr 5, 2019 at 2:34
• Thank you very much! Maybe I misunderstood the question. Apr 5, 2019 at 12:13

According to the F/A-18's manual, the pilot starts the 180° from downwind when abeam the landing signal officer's platform:

With a 30-knot wind over the deck begin the 180° turn to the final approach when approximately abeam the LSO platform.

Here's the illustration (of course the ship is not fixed, it's moving):

Click to view

• Thank you very much! It is very helpful! Apr 5, 2019 at 12:13

Standard practice is to turn abeam. This results in 10-15 seconds “in the groove” once you roll wings level on final. Because of the angled deck, the turn to final is more than 180 degrees.

This does vary based on wind. Once, when both the natural winds were high and the ship was in a hurry to get somewhere (luckily into the wind) we saw 50 kts wind over the deck. Turned before the bow, so at the 90 it looked like we were pointing at the round down. Just requires using Mark I mod 0 eyeball to judge off norm conditions

• Thanks a lot! It is very helpful! Apr 7, 2019 at 23:28
• The target goove length is generally 15-18 seconds. At least that is what was burned into my memory in the 1990s... Apr 8, 2019 at 19:31