Aviation Boatswain’s Mates, Aircraft Handling (ABH) working as Air Operations Technicians can be based aboard ships or at air fields, where they are tasked with the safe operation of the facility and are available to assist transiting aircraft as well as aircrew personnel. In addition to handling the movement, service, and maintenance of aircraft at the air field, Air Operations Technicians also secure and ensure the custody and proper packaging of mail, cargo, and hazardous materials.
ABHs serve as the air field’s firefighters and rescue teams in the event of a fire, emergency landing, or other mishap involving planes or structures. Classified as Shore Base Airport and Aircraft Fighters, ABHs are certified in accordance with standards developed by the National Fire Protection Agency for airport firefighters, and work in support of base firefighting companies. They are also members of the HAZMAT (Hazardous Materials) response team, and are given the job of inspecting and using Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) related to rescue operations, firefighting, and salvage tasks.
Another area of expertise for ABHs serving as Air Operations Technicians is arresting gear; they perform routine inspections of the equipment, as well as conducting a thorough check before and after gear has been in use.