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Carrier Qualification Requirements

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This is a bit of a nerdy question. I am tracking my progress in carrier landings and I would like to know whether my scores would actually meet any official requirements to be CQ'ed "in real life".  🙂

Unfortunaltely, I could not find any solid information in any NATOPS manual on the carrier qualification scoring details...


Is there anyone (maybe a real CQ'ed pilot) out here who happens to know the following in particular, or anyone who has some guideline on hand, covering the following:

  1. the minimum scores to be met in terms of passes and boarding rate?
  2. Are there night-flights included and are they counted differently in any way? - if yes, how?
  3. Would the CQ score for initial qualification and also permanent qualification in the squadron be an average of a certain amount of passes (how many passes in average?


Long story short: Is there anything like "past x passes of score y and boarding rate z" to be carrier (re-)qualified?


Many thanks in advance!

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Like everything else in aviation (military/civil), qualifications must be maintained throughout your career. Performing tasks at night is separate from performing those tasks in daylight. In civilian aviation, you have to pursue each endorsement as separate training. In the military, you would likely be expected to pass a qualification for each task in your expected role just to get your wings.


Out of interest, I did a google to see if I could find more specific information to your question on carrier qualifications and found next to nothing, unless I wanted to chat to an online US Navy recruiter.  I am sure someone here will be able to give you the exact information your looking for, but barring that, you could always consider talking to the source.

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My last trap was in 1997 but I don't remember there being a specific 'number' that determined a passing qual that you could compare your performance to in DCS.


But here's the long answer:


1.  The squadron LSOs for the squadron evaluating the qual will determine what they think of a particular pilot's performance in terms of consistent landing quality.  Of course they have very specific grading criteria but the bottom-line will is a qual will always depend on their collective comfort in a pilot's performance rather than a particular 'number'.  The number of hook-up and hook-down looks at the deck are specific depending on whether you're talking about an initial qual in the jet or a requal after being away from the boat for a period of time.


2.  Initial quals and re-quals are done during the day and in good weather.  The night qual is done at the fleet squadron depending on a pilot's day performance and the ships operations schedule.  The squadron and wing LSOs will decide when the pilot is ready for a night qual.


3.  A carrier qual is only good for a period of time following your last trap.  LSOs will review the initial qual performance of a new pilot assigned to the squadron but it won't be made public.  During a deployment however every trap performed at the boat is maintained on record on the Ready Room bulkhead for the entire at-sea period.  For the next at-sea period the pilots public record starts clean however LSOs maintain a pilot landing history record used for identifying any unhealthy trends.


Of course things can and do change with time so I can't say how it's done differently today or if my memory is as accurate as I'd like to think it is.  🙂

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Posted (edited)
3 hours ago, Foka said:

That's what I found in one of pdfs.





Great find! - I also found that file as one of my references during my research but I was missing the scores-requirements in that file (that's also what triggered my question initially).

Source (page 11):


One could assume that e.g. 10 arrested landings, all with a "Cut"-grade would be enough be qualified, as the plane was technically "landed" on the carrier.

This is why I was / am also after real-life references.  🙂




Edit: Typos corrected

Edited by Vettefan
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Posted (edited)



hey man, 


good to see my manual made it in the topic🤣


For grades:

the GPA and boarding rate minimums are mostly used during initial CQ and undergraduate CQ on the T-45. In the fleet, recurrent CQ, it is more pass/fail than formal GPA. As an example, getting a cut pass and throwing out shitty passes could DQ you. But if you consistently get aboard safely, with maybe a turd or two, you’re going to “pass.”  It’s the subjective judgment of Paddles if you are proficient enough to continue on to cyclic ops. Remember, recurrent CQ is done in the first couple of days of an underway period, with the remaining weeks (or months in the case of deployment) being cyclic.

In the case of initial or undergraduate CQ, if a pilot is consistently struggling with something, a quick pep talk over the radio is one of the techniques used. If a person has no chance of passing, then they will get out of the jet after their next trap. Usually if somebody is able to complete all of their traps without being sidelined early, then they were good enough, and if necessary, previous grades can be “massaged” if in Paddles judgment the pilot should pass.


The GPA and boarding rate requirements for CQ are formalized in the Navy’s CQ instruction. That is the master document across all of Naval Aviation. It is not up to individual airwings or the rags or Paddles. It is written down in the instruction.

here s a bedtime story that tells it all 





Edited by Pieterras
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