FAQ: Deck Responsibilities


The Hangar Deck of the Battlestar is one of the busiest places on the ship. Normally handling 250 ships (200 Vipers and 50 Raptors), the HD is actually two areas. Each flight pod has its own Hangar Deck which handles maintenance, arming, and recovery of 125 aircraft. Currently on the Cerberus, only the Port Hangar Deck is used for the purposes of the Deck. Once more Vipers and Raptors are constructed then the Starboard will be opened up to operations.

When the aircraft land on the Flight Deck (which is a separate place from the Hangar Deck) right above, huge elevators have to bring each aircraft down to the Hangar. Each Elevator can hold either one Raptor or two Vipers (either variant). Each Hangar Deck has three elevators that bring the aircraft down. Typically pilots wait until their ship has been brought down from the Flight Deck above before exiting and post-flighting their aircraft. The only reason they would exit the ship before this was if they were in immediate danger.

Should the aircraft roll or crash on landing, the Flight Deck has a group of heavy movers that (essentially bulldozers) shove the wreckage(s) onto the elevators and bring them below decks — all operated by Deck personnel. Typically the concern would be further damage to the aircraft with using heavy equipment like this, but because a pilot's oxygen supply may be damaged, priority is placed on getting the pilot home alive and only then does the aircraft take priority. Any unexploded ordnance within the wreckage(s) is handled by trained Ordnance technicians and disposed-of or salvaged accordingly.

The Deck also has responsibility for the maintenance of the Viper Launch Tubes. Raptors cannot and will not launch from these tubes. It is not physically possible. All Raptor operations must be launched from the Flight Deck and the ships brought up via elevators. Scrambling Raptors, obviously, takes a much longer time. But because the Vipers are the fleet's primary ranged defense/offense, these tubes have to be kept in top condition and working order as often as possible. Also worth noting are the 'Alert Vipers'. They is discussed on the Fighter Missions page under 'Point/Area Defense' but their staging is the responsibility of the Deck. These 'Alert-5' aircraft reserve the storage bays directly in front of the launch tubes. When a scramble order is called, these aircraft need the be the first out and bringing them to the tubes from other locations on the Hangar Deck takes too long. These aircraft are to be pre-flighted, fueled, armed, and ready to launch at all times. Alert Pilots are assigned duty overnight and are available for scramble during these hours.

Typically the Deck operates two primary shifts: Morning and Afternoon. These are each standard nine hour shifts that overlap during the middle of the day to help facilitate extra maintenance and workload requirements throughout the Air Wing and Deck itself. There is a 'Swing' shift that works later into the evening (an extension of the Afternoon shift, technically) and typically runs until midnight that handles the workload that was not dealt with during the day. There is no official shift that runs between midnight at 6am, however a skeleton crew of five techs is expected to be on the Deck to assist with a scramble order of the Alert Vipers. This assistance is provided in the evening by the swing shift.

Fire / Damage Control

Fire is the number one enemy on board a battlestar and every single crewmember has at least had minimal firefighting training. Fire weakens metal and cause buckling of load bearing structures, not to mention to possibility of blast damage caused by explosions. In an environment like the Deck the danger of fire is ever-present. The combination of hot engines, electrical currents, fuel, and munitions makes this one of the most dangerous work spaces on a battlestar. An uncontrolled fire in this area could cause the entire ship to be lost. Thus, every single member of the deck is expected to know how to fight fires and respond immediately to any emergency related to it.

When a fire is identified, the first course of action is to alert the personnel in the area. Yelling 'Fire! Fire! Fire!' is perfectly acceptable and is not something that should ever be joked about (to the point that someone should expect charges to be filed). Once the alert has been sounded, a ship-wide announcement is made via the +com/page command and can be made by anyone from the most junior enlisted to the Admiral: "Fire, fire, fire. Fire on the Port(/Starboard) Hangar Deck. Away Damage Control Teams." The important thing is not who makes it but that the call and warning is made. Anyone on the Hangar Deck is expected to respond to the call including any personnel who are not normally stationed there — including pilots. All personnel responding to the fire will follow the directions of Deck Crew regardless of rank or stationing. Ship personnel not on the Hangar Deck should not be expected to respond unless they are assigned members of Damage Control Teams from the Deck or Engineering departments.

Firefighting gear is kept in unlocked quick-access stations at locations all over the Hangar Deck. They are readily identifiable by their bright red exteriors and there are large 'FFG' placards hanging from the ceiling over their positions. Each station contains sets of firefighter turnouts, oxygen tanks and masks, and helmets. Hoses used for fighting the fires are located right next to these stations and spray a thick foam rather than water. Water will conduct electrical currents as well as float Tylium fuel so this foam is used to suppress any fires and starve it of oxygen.

If at any time a fire appears to be out of control and unstoppable, the order may be given to evacuate the area. If this order is given, and it will be passed along by any means necessary, then all crews need to drop what they are doing and do whatever it takes to get behind the closest set of blast doors that separate the section from another. The compartment/frame will then be sealed via the blast doors and hatches and vented to space. This is the absolute last line of defense against fires. Personnel who cannot or will not evacuate have an expected survival rate of zero.


Foreign Object Debris (FOD - Also known as Foreign Object Damage) causes more damage to peacetime militaries' aircraft than anything else. This occurs when an aircraft starts its engines and air is sucked into the fanblades for compression and something is left out nearby. Rocks, birds, bolts, screwdrivers, and anything else small and lightweight can be sucked-up into these blades and cause immense amounts of damage. When an engine ingests FOD, it can disrupt airflow, clog it to cause a flameout, and even cause engine fires.

Walkdowns of the Deck are conducted twice daily to look for FOD. They are done at the beginning of every morning shift and again at the end of the morning shift. All aircraft maintenance is halted during this time and every crewmember participates. They are expected to literally walk the entire length of the hangar deck and keep their eyes on the ground to look for any loose materials. Some Deck Chiefs will require everyone to come back with a piece of debris and those who do not will be forced to walk it again.

Pre-Flight / Post-Flight

Deck crews are expected to assist pilots in their pre- and post-flight checks. These are typically done by Petty Officers but it can be accomplished by anyone certified.


  • Airworthiness Sign-Off by Deck Chief
  • Armaments Uploaded (if applicable)
  • Fueled
  • External Inspection
  • Ejection Systems Pinned and Safed
  • Crew Suits Externally Checked
  • Crew Boarded and Secured
  • Flight Controls (surfaces move, thrusters electronically tested)
  • Fueling Caps Double-Checked for Seal
  • Weapons Caps Removed
  • Avionics Test
  • Cabin/Canopy Locked
  • Engine Start
  • Ejection Systems Unpinned and Armed
  • Movement to Launch Positions


  • Movement to Deck
  • Ejection Systems Pinned and Safed
  • Assistance with Crew Removal
  • Post-Flight Checklist to Crew
  • Weapons Caps Installed
  • Issues/Problems Logged
  • Ship Moved to Storage Bay
  • Armaments Downloaded and Returned to Ordnance Deck

Emergency Aircrew Extrication

Whether the aircraft has crashed on the Flight Deck or one has 'brewed-up' (caught fire) on the Hangar Deck and trapped the crew inside, the priority is to save the life of the people inside each craft. The lead member of the deck present will have to make the decision as to who is saved first when multiple crews are involved. This should be done based on a rough triage as to who can safely be saved and who is beyond rescue.

In Vipers, aircrew extraction is a fairly straightforward affair. The canopy needs to be removed and the pilot extracted safely. If the aircraft is on fire, the cockpit should be doused with foam while the rescue is underway in order to protect those crews who are involved. Should the burning aircraft be loaded with live ordnance, the firefighting team's priority is fire suppression to prevent an explosion which could potentially cause a chain reaction. Aircrews will be expected to try and get themselves out. If the rescue must take place on the Flight Deck, Deck Crews should take care to ensure that the pilot's oxygen supply is stable before removal for the wreckage and their rush to sickbay.

Extrication from a crashed or burning Raptor is a slightly more complicated affair, however it is made easier in a few ways. First, if the extrication must take place on the Hangar Deck, then a few options are provided to the crew of both the Raptor and Deck. If there is an immediate danger of fire for the Raptor crew, they can 'go out the front door'. The aircrew will signal the Deck team at the front of the bird by any means necessary and raise their arms in a highly-visible X pattern over their heads inside the Raptor. Once an acknowledgment has been made by Deck personnel and the area cleared, the Raptor crew shall arm one ejection seat while leaving the primary seat safeties engaged. The ejection sequence will be fired, without launching the seat's motor, which will blow off the Raptor's canopy glass. The Raptor crew may then exit out the front of the Raptor. If the crew is trapped due to a crash on the Flight Deck, plasma torches will be used to cut a hole in the Raptor to rescue the crew by any means necessary after an attempt to ascertain the status of the aircrew's oxygen supply.

Safety Rules

This is taken direction from the Military Procedures page, under the 'Hangar Deck Safety' tab.


  • Wear all items of flight deck safety gear for launching and recovering aircraft.
    • Flight deck helmet (cranial)
    • Double hearing protection
    • Goggles
    • Flame resistant coveralls
    • Steel toed flight deck boots with non-slip soles
    • Protective gloves
  • Keep your eye on anyone you think might be setting themselves up for an accident. Help to avoid that potential damage.
  • Lend a hand when an aircraft 'push-back' is called away. Caution - watch skids, intakes and ordnance.
  • Clean up immediately any mess under or around aircraft. This will help prevent FOD and help keep the deck skid proof.
  • Take part in all flight deck drills and FOD walkdowns.
  • Seek out a petty officer to ask for assistance if you are unsure of a situation.
  • Know your absolute limits. Fatigue is deadly.
  • Stand clear of safe-park and safe-shot lines when flight operations are in progress.
  • Notify the LSO immediately if you misplace a tool, wand or object.
  • Know the plan for the cycle. Know the flow of traffic by watching aircraft directors.

Do Not

  • Don't walk onto the deck during hangar deck operations without wearing proper gear.
  • Don't wear jewelery such as neck chains or bracelets while on the flight deck.
  • Don't work on or pass beneath a moving aircraft.
  • Don't pass beneath drop tanks or air refueling stores on parked aircraft.
  • Don't sit on the hangar deck.
  • Don't walk in front of aircraft while arming or de-arming front firing ordnance.
  • Don't leave power cables lying on the deck. Stow them.
  • Don't stand in front of mobile firefighting equipment.
  • Don't cross elevator stanchions while they are raised.
  • Don't loiter on the hangar deck. If you don't have a job to do, stay out.

References for Tech

  • Battlestar Tech Blog - Written by Dr. Kevin Grazier, BSG's 'Technical Advisor'. Dr. Gazier has two Bachelors degrees, two Masters degrees, and a Doctorate from UCLA on planetary physics and solar evolution. He works for the Jet Propulsion Lab (JPL) in Pasadena, CA (JPL is a bunch of brilliant people crammed into a high security building on the side of a hill in Los Angeles) and consults for Los Alamos National Labs in New Mexico. Oh yeah, he also teaches space physics at UCLA. LOTS of fascinating stuff on this blog. Not necessarily dedicated to Deck ops, but still a good read for anyone interested in the science behind the show.
  • Parts of A Jet Engine
  • How A Jet Engine Works
  • Different Types of Jet Engines
  • PDF File of Avionics Acronyms
  • Glossary of Electrical Terms
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