This question is restricted to airliners transporting many passengers (let's say more than 20).

Between two legs, airliners stay at the boarding gate for a limited time, sometimes less than an hour. The stopover duration at the gate is typically dictated by the time to refuel and disembark/embark both freight and passengers. I understand the cost-saving logic behind the decision to make this operation as fast as possible.

However, in a competitive market, safety may not be compatible with shorter turnaround times. No pilot would irresponsibly compromise safety by leaving the gate without fulfilling their safety and security obligations, but I wonder if there is a minimum turnaround time imposed by regulation to avoid downward pressure on turnaround times?


  • let's focus on the fastest and simplest scenario: no crew change and no refueling (the crew took enough fuel to make several legs)
  • I don't want to be restricted to one legislation or one part of the world. The question is: does any regulation exist to require such a stop time?
  • I just thought that technically, brakes should be cooled down before the next take off roll.
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ The limiting factor in plane turn around time is in normal situations, the speed of passengers being unloaded, and new passengers loading onto the plane. Ryanair have this down to a fine art, and do run schedules where planes have 20 minutes between the landing and take off times. $\endgroup$ – Michael Shaw Jul 21 '16 at 11:32
  • 2
    $\begingroup$ Legal questions should be limited to one set of rules/laws so that an accurate answer can be provided. Unless someone is familiar with the aviation laws of every individual country in the world, this question is impossible to answer as written. $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jul 21 '16 at 13:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Lnafziger Well, impossible to answer in the negative anyway. $\endgroup$ – reirab Jul 21 '16 at 16:24

No, there is no legal minimum turnaround time.

There are several technical reasons why an aircraft needs to stay on the ground for a while. Some of the (already mentioned) time consuming tasks are:
Passenger (de)boarding, crew change, refueling, brake cooling, obtaining ATC clearance, visual inspection of the plane etc.

  • $\begingroup$ You could also add engine cooling to your list. I recently flew on an intra-island flight on a BN Islander. Talking to the ground staff, they mentioned the airport was capable of taking larger aircraft (such as the Twin Otter), however it didn't fit their ops model - it needed a lengthy delay before restarting the engine again. $\endgroup$ – Gavin Coates Jul 21 '16 at 13:13
  • $\begingroup$ Generally, AFM limitations are legally required to be complied with... $\endgroup$ – Lnafziger Jul 21 '16 at 19:25

Well, in some cases, zero.

In Australia, for a long time only two airlines (Ansett and TAA) were allowed to fly between capital cities. To work around this, East-West Airlines practiced a touch-and-go at Albury, half way between Melbourne and Sydney. Legally, these we considered separate legs (at least for some time).

  • $\begingroup$ Wow, that's crazy! Thanks for the history lesson :) $\endgroup$ – Jeff B Aug 8 '16 at 21:27

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.