I wanted to know the number of times a pilot has to refer to his/her checklist for the entire flight (before startup to engine shutdown).

  • 3
    $\begingroup$ Light plane? Short haul airliner? Or transatlantic 747? They'll all have different checklists of varying length and complexity. $\endgroup$
    – user11516
    Oct 13, 2015 at 9:01

2 Answers 2


Typically, the checklists in normal operations are:

  • External walk around and preflight
  • Before start
  • Before taxi
  • Before take-off
  • After take-off
  • Cruise
  • Descent
  • Approach
  • Landing
  • Shutdown
  • Secure

This list is pretty much the same for all aircraft.

Normally, each checklist is only used once at the appropriate time but a wise pilot would re-run a checklist if interrrupted.

For example, you are cleared to start and complete the before start checklist but there is then an unexpected delay before you actually start. You wait for 30 minutes. No need to redo the before start checklist because you did it earlier? No, do it again. Something might have changed.

  • $\begingroup$ That is 10; in my operation there are 8 on a normal flight, or more if deicing is required. Eight to ten is probably a fairly normal range for most operations. $\endgroup$
    – Ralph J
    Oct 13, 2015 at 10:58
  • $\begingroup$ @RalphJ Thanks Ralph. Is it accurate to say that some are either rolled into one (i.e. shutdown and secure) or simply not required? I fly one type which doesn't even have a written checklist for descent but there is a "memory" item which is carb heat as required. $\endgroup$
    – Simon
    Oct 13, 2015 at 11:02
  • $\begingroup$ Many jets also have taxi, lineup, transition level, cruise, before landing, and after landing checks too. $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Apr 7, 2016 at 17:03
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Almost all jets have an extra pilot to run them all, too! $\endgroup$
    – rbp
    Apr 7, 2016 at 17:24
  • $\begingroup$ @rbp Yes, and the question is tagged "commercial-aviation". :) $\endgroup$
    – Lnafziger
    Apr 7, 2016 at 17:35

Simon mentioned a great list of common checklists (of course, keep in mind there are lots of other checklists for emergency situations; fuel dump, engine out, engine fire, hydraulics, etc. etc.)- I would like to address one specific point in your question:

I wanted to know the number of times a pilot has to refer to his/her checklist

I don't mean to be pedantic here, but checklists are always referred to (in other words, they are not memorized). Even the most experienced pilots go through the checklist manually - of course - it takes them quicker to go through each checklist due to their experience but they always refer to it.

I have the most experience with the 737 and on this aircraft, typically the checklists are laminated and on some aircraft placed above the cockpit instrument cluster; in addition some checklists are actually written on the yoke itself:

enter image description here

(image from wikipedia entry on yoke)

The checklists are before takeoff / after takeoff / approach / landing. The little yellow bug (on the right) is to keep track of the items.

During one of my orientation sessions, the instructor reminded me to not do the checklist by memory, you must always refer to the written list.

He then mentioned "in the air force they make us memorize the checklists and do them by memory, but not on civilian aircraft".

  • $\begingroup$ There was a fatal accident a bit over a year ago at a small airport near me that was caused, in large part, because the pilots didn't go through any of their checklists. They had forgotten to disengage the gust lock. $\endgroup$
    – yshavit
    Apr 7, 2016 at 21:54

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