Aircraft tracking: what manoeuvres are included in the landing and takeoff phases?

April 2018

Within the flight phases of an aircraft, there are two stages that tend to capture the attention of passengers and mark the day to day in the aircraft tracking for the management of an airport: takeoff and landing. These phases, in turn, comprise a series of steps aimed at bringing the aircraft up to the necessary speed conditions to either lift or land the flight according to the slots assigned.

What are these steps and how can we distinguish them when we track an aircraft for proper airport management?

 

Phases of flight: takeoff

The takeoff phase covers procedures from the moment the aircraft starts moving on the track until it reaches a certain height and speed already in the air.

1. Takeoff: taxiing on land

In the first part of the takeoff phase, the plane removes the brakes and starts to accelerate, moving along the track until it acquires V1 speed, which determines that it will no longer be possible to cancel takeoff. From this moment on, even if there is an engine failure, the aircraft is obliged to be put in the air, as it will be the safest decision in all cases. 

The acceleration will continue until the plane reaches the next level, the so-called VR speed when the front of the plane will begin to separate from the ground. The aircraft will then proceed to taxi only with the main train on the track and enter VLOF, the plane takeoff speed to initiate its suspension in the air.

2. Takeoff: an airborne journey

Without any contact with the ground, the plane will go up in the air, first in pursuit of VX speed, the velocity at which the best angle of ascent is achieved. When it reaches a set height, VY  speed, the velocity at which a better rate of ascent is achieved, will follow. 

The takeoff phase is considered completed when the aircraft enters V2 speed, the adequate velocity to fly.

 

Phases of flight: landing

The landing phase requires similar actions to those in the takeoff phase, but in reverse order. 

1. Landing: an airborne journey

To descend towards the track, the plane decelerates and glides from VA speed or manoeuvring velocity, until it reaches VF speed when the flaps can be deployed for safe grounding. 

2. Landing: taxiing on land

The plane touches the ground in VTD speed landing velocity, first with the rear axle and then with all the wheels. Afterwards, its progression on the track will slow down until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.