Prowler Association

NATOPS manual and PCL

NATOPS, Naval Aviation Training and Operational Procedure Standardization, was developed as the “owner’s manual” for Navy aircraft in the early 1960s. Also known as the “Big Blue Sleeping Pill”, NATOPS was taught at VAQ-129 in the case of the EA-6B and established the minimum procedures that aircrew had to know in order to fly the aircraft safely.

For most of the Prowler’s history VAQ-129 was the “Model Manager” for the EA-6B, which meant it was responsible for maintaining NATOPS and keeping it current. The squadron’s Safety Department typically had two individuals, one Naval Aviator and one NFO, who were the community’s NATOPS evaluators. These two individuals were the guardians of the document while also being responsible for conducting the required annual NATOPS evaluations of all fleet squadrons.

The aviators, usually Lieutenants, who got these positions were generally the Junior Officer cream of the Prowler community. They were critical to the daily and long term business of the aircraft; and could wield influence and impact well beyond their rank.

At the fleet squadron level each aircrew was required to go through an annual NATOPS evaluation as well. This would include a written test, a simulator ride and flight evaluation, all under the eye of the unit’s evaluator, who had themselves been certified by VAQ-129.

The criticality of the NATOPS program cannot be understated as it, along with the advent of the RAGs in the late 1950s, is considered one of the primary reasons for the significant reduction of aircraft mishaps in the decades that followed.

EA-6B NATOPS NAVAIR 01-85ADC-1 Dated 1 May 1985

Weight: 5 lbs, 3 Oz. Thickness: 2”

Part I: The Aircraft
Chap 1 Aircraft and Engine
Chap 2 Systems
Chap 3 Servicing and Handling
Chap 4 Operating Limitations

Part II: Indoctrination
Chap 5 Indoctrination

Part III: Normal Procedure
Chap 6 Flight Preparation
Chap 7 Shore Based Procedures
Chap 8 Carrier Based Procedures
Chap 9 Special Procedures
Chap 10 Functional Check Flight Procedures

Part IV: Flight Characteristics and Special Procedures
Chap 11 Flight Characteristics and Special Procedures

Part V: Emergency Procedures
Chap 12 Introduction/Ground Emergencies
Chap 13 Takeoff Emergencies
Chap 14 In-flight Emergencies
Chap 15 Landing Emergencies
Chap 16 Ejection/Bailout Procedures

Part VI: All Weather Operations
Chap 17 Instrument Procedures
Chap 18 Extreme Weather Procedures

Part VIII: Navigation Equipment and Procedures
Chap 19 Navigation Equipment and Procedures

Part VIII: Weapon Systems
Chap 20 Navigation Systems
Chap 21 AGM-88A HARM Procedures
Chap 22-24 (“Reserved for future use”)

Part IX: Flight Crew Coordination
Chap 25 Flight Crew Coordination

Part X: NATOPS Evaluation
Chap 26 NATOPS Evaluation

Part XI: Performance Data
Chap 27 Standard Data
Chap 28 Takeoff
Chap 29 Climb
Chap 30 Range and Endurance
Chap 31 Air Refueling
Chap 32 Descent
Chap 33 Landing
Chap 34 Mission Planning
Chap 35 Endurance Operations
Chap 36 Combat Performance