The shuttlebay (variously called the flight deck, hangar deck, or shuttlecraft bay) is a facility on a ship or station where auxiliary craft are launched, received, stored, and maintained. These craft can include shuttlepods, shuttles, runabouts, workbees, and on some classes, fighters. Shuttlebays can be small enough for a single craft (such as this on the Defiant class) or large enough to take up an entire deck (or more). These bays are typically double-wall duranium in Federation vessels, with reinforced decks to stand the punishment of flight operations. They are normally shielded in case of accidents to protect the rest of the ship. Shuttlebays are usually designed with a flight deck, a flight operations booth, Auxiliary Craft Maintenance/refueling areas, hangers, Equipment Storage, and Weapons Lockers included. Starbases, carriers, and larger ships may also have Auxiliary craft elevators, a Flight Control Operations bay, and pilot ready rooms. They also typically have more than one shuttlebay.
The space doors on a shuttlebay are triple-layered compressible extruded duranium, while inner doors are lightweight neofoam sheeting in an expanded tritanium frame. They are usually kept closed, and are replaced with an annular force field when a shuttlecraft was about to land or to be launched. This force field can be penetrated by the shuttlecraft itself, while it prevents decompression of the shuttlebay. Most shuttlebays were equipped with a tractor beam emitter in order to facilitate the landing procedure. It is standard operating procedure on Starfleet ships and stations that at least 1/3rd of all auxiliary craft be kept at flight-ready status at all times. Flight operations are directed by the Flight Control Officer on duty, while responsibility for the bay itself belongs to the Shuttlebay Manager.
Shuttlebays are not only used for auxiliary flight operations. They have multiple usages designed into them, such as emergency evacuation centers, triage areas for mass casualties, and secondary Cargo Bays to name a few.
See also Drop Bay