Raymer in his book suggests a method to find wing loading W/S (for example we consider jet with 2 engines) (starting from specific thrust $\frac TW$, $CL_{to}$, density/reference density etc.).

In step 1: he suggests to use graphics "Fig. 5.4 Takeoff distance estimation": you enter takeoff distance (in ordinate), so .. in abscissa you can determine Takeoff Parameter ("TOP")

Step 2: From "TOP" you can find $\frac WS=TOP\cdot \sigma \cdot CL_{to} \cdot \frac tW$

The questions are: in figure 5.4 you can find many diagrams: takeoff distance for:

a) "Balanced field Length"
b) "over 50 ft"
c) "ground roll"

Which one I have to use? What is the difference among them? Which curve you have to use, in order to calculate "take off parameter"?

Source: Daniel P. Raymer, Aircraft design: a conceptual approach. Chapter 5 Thrust-to-weight ratio and wing loading, paragraph 5.3 Wing Loading, sub-paragraph Takeoff Distance, page 88-89 and "Fig. 5.4 Takeoff distance estimation".

  • 1
    $\begingroup$ I noticed that you often ask about Raymer, so I assume youtook it as a sort of "reference book" for Aircraft Design. I would suggest you to look at other books for completeness, for example: Roskam "Airplane Design" and Torenbeek "Synthesis of Subsonic Airplane Design", Nicolai "Fundamentals of Aircraft Design". $\endgroup$
    – GHB
    Mar 22, 2016 at 16:28

1 Answer 1


Let's clarify:

Large commercial airplanes take off in a way which ensures there is sufficient runway length to stop in case of aborted takeoff. There is a speed threshold, V1 speed or decision speed, that determines whether the takeoff can still be aborted, or the airplane must continue and liftoff whatever happens. See balanced field takeoff on Wikipedia.

The balanced field length is the minimum runway length to execute a balanced field takeoff for a given aircraft. The V1 speed in this case is the lowest possible. Additional runway length allows greater V1 to be selected (greater V1 means a greater portion of the ground roll with a possibility to abort the takeoff).

enter image description here
V1 value and balanced field length (source)

50 ft distance: This is the distance from the start of the ground roll to the point where the aircraft is airborne and 50 ft over the runway, to ensure obstacle clearance. 35 ft is another typical obstacle clearance in the US, and indeed the distance to climb to 35 ft is shorter than the previous one (a 35 ft clearance is implicitly used to compute the balanced field distance)

enter image description here
Takeoff roll distance and Obstacle clearance distance (source)

Using the diagram

From this slideshow which reproduces the figure you refer to:

enter image description here

This depicts the relationship between takeoff parameter and different distances, either the ground roll distance or the obstacle clearance distance (35 and 50 ft) in the three types of takeoff described above.

There are three groups from left to right:

  • Jet using balanced field T/O (the obstacle clearance is implicitly 35 ft).
  • Jet not using balanced field T/O.
  • Propeller (not using balanced field T/O).

In these groups, there are one or two data provided:

  • Jet using balanced field T/O. The only distance provided is the balanced field length (distance to accelerate, abort the T/O at V1 and decelerate). You must choose the right curve, depending on the number of engines (twin, tri or four-engine).

  • Jet / propeller. There are two distance provided and you may need both. Ground roll is the distance until the aircraft leaves the ground (liftoff); 50 ft is the ground roll + the distance to climb to 50 ft.

See also:

  • $\begingroup$ Thank you Mins for your wide explanation. I have to add a question in order to understand better: if jet is not using balanced field t/o how can be found the values (couples of takeoff distance and takeoff parameter) depicted for "Ground Roll" and "Over 50 ft" you can find in proper curve? Which different aircraft conditions you have in stead of balanced field t/o conditions (or hypothesis) ? $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2016 at 15:42
  • $\begingroup$ @d.pensopositivo: Not sure I understand fully the comment. If this is a jet not using a BF T/O, then you look at the group in the middle (5th and 4th curves from the left). You know your T/O parameter, report it on the horizontal axis, find the projection onto the two curves, report the intersections onto the vertical axis. This gives you the ground roll distance (5th curve) and the 50 ft obstacle clearance distance (4th curve). Feel free to ask more clarification if required. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Mar 20, 2016 at 15:54
  • $\begingroup$ Thank you; to understand better, do you know in which case the jet aircraft is not using balance field takeoff? In such case, historically which data the curve "ground roll" are taken from? How are they originated? $\endgroup$ Mar 20, 2016 at 17:21
  • $\begingroup$ @d.pensopositivo: Balanced field T/O is required for the large commercial transport aircraft category in the US (CFR Title 14 → Chapter I → Subchapter C → Part 25 → Subpart B → §25.107 et seq.) Distances are taken from the certification test flights and are included in the AFM. $\endgroup$
    – mins
    Mar 20, 2016 at 18:57

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