USS George H.W. Bush begins flight operations after 13 months of maintenance

Aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush (CVN 77) trapped its first aircraft after more than 13 months on August 9.

Bush spent the last 13 months undergoing a planned incremental availability (PIA) at Norfolk Naval Shipyard. PIA was completed in June 2016 and the ship is currently undergoing preparations for deployment.

Lt. Christopher Montague, test pilot and project officer for Carrier Suitability Squadron (VX) 23, landed an F/A-18E, which marked the beginning of flight operations and the continuing preparations for GHWB’s upcoming deployment.

“I’m enjoying being aboard,” said Montague. “The ship looks great and the crew has treated us well. From the ship side, all the equipment performed perfectly. I’m thankful to be a part of this operation.”

The landing also marked the first successful use of the arrested landing gear during GHWB’s flight deck certifications.

“I finally get to do my job, lead my Sailors and move combat aircraft to and from the hangar deck so they can deploy,” said Chief Aviation Boatswain’s Mate James Brinson, hangar deck chief petty officer.

To deploy, GHWB must certify the effectiveness of their flight deck and flight deck teams.

“Flight deck certification is important because we have to certify that all the flight deck teams, hangar deck teams and all of the major systems involved with aircraft are able to do the aircraft carrier job, which is to launch and recover aircraft,” said Brinson.

During the 2014 deployment, GHWB launched 12,774 sorties amounting to 34,831 flight hours. 3,245 of these sorties were for combat which amounted to 18,133 combat flight hours. In total there were 10,003 catapult launches.