What's the shortest amount of time a commercial airplane will be on the ground in between flights?

After a commercial flight lands the passengers and luggage have to be unloaded, the airplane needs to be refueled and undergo mandatory inspections, etc.

With all of that going on between a commercial airplane's landing and takeoff, what's the shortest time it would take between flights?

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    $\begingroup$ Plenty of the flights around Orkney are timetabled for five minute turnarounds, looking at both ends of the world's shortest flight. $\endgroup$
    – gsnedders
    Dec 17, 2016 at 23:35
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    $\begingroup$ Well, if the guy touches down and sees a luggage tractor on the runway, then the time spent on the ground will be extremely brief. $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2016 at 3:36
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    $\begingroup$ @TylerDurden Yeah, the shortest amount of time an airliner spends on the ground between flights is about this long. I count about 3 seconds. $\endgroup$
    – reirab
    Dec 18, 2016 at 4:46
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    $\begingroup$ It greatly depends on the size of the aircraft and type of operation... An A320 or 737 sized aircraft can be turned around in about 25 minutes if everything goes well $\endgroup$
    – Ben
    Dec 18, 2016 at 8:49
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    $\begingroup$ Does go around on the runway counts? Then less than a second. $\endgroup$
    – h22
    Dec 18, 2016 at 10:40

2 Answers 2


I flew SA-226/227 Metroliners for two different commuters back in the 1980s. If we were behind schedule, station managers had the option of asking the pilots to do an engine-running turn. The passenger entry door and the cargo door were on the left side of the airplane, so that meant the right engine was left running.

Such turns, usually only requested if there were few passengers exiting and entering, and little baggage being unloaded and loaded, took as I remember less than 10 minutes. The Metroliner was very noisy even with only one engine running and you didn't want to do it if any kind of a line would form at the bottom of the entry stairs.

Captains had the option of refusing such turns, and some captains wouldn't do them.

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    $\begingroup$ How much faster do you actually get the second engine running again when you can directly tap on bleed air from the other? $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2016 at 10:40
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    $\begingroup$ Why does leaving one engine running shorten the turnaround time? $\endgroup$ Dec 18, 2016 at 19:24
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    $\begingroup$ @leftaroundabout Metroliners were powered by Garrett TPE331 turboprop engines. They had electric starters, not pneumatic starters. Interestingly, this same engine was the APU in the 747 and other Boeing designs. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Dec 18, 2016 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ @PeteBecker Leaving one engine running removed the need to position and connect a ground power unit and then disconnect and get it out of the way after starting. And, since the Garrett engines were direct-drive (a single solid shaft) they took more time both to shutdown and start than, say, PT-6s with two shafts rotating independently, so leaving one running saved you the time for that engine. They also had to have the prop rotated shortly after shutdown, so you saved that time as well. Ground crews were minimal at out-stations, often only two people, and sometimes just one. $\endgroup$
    – Terry
    Dec 18, 2016 at 20:48

My personal record in commercial flying is 5 minutes block-in to block-out. At that job, typical time was 10-20 minutes on blocks. Actual time on the ground for such a stop typically included an additional 5 minutes for taxi and checks for a total of 10 minutes on the ground.

I did not typically carry passengers at that job, which aided in the short turn-around time. Time on blocks will typically increase with the number of passengers carried.

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    $\begingroup$ What the heck were you carrying that you were on the ground for such a short amount of time? If you hadn't said commercial flying, I'd have though you were flying a C130 with the boys pushing the load off the back ramp as you ran down the runway... $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Dec 18, 2016 at 17:44
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    $\begingroup$ @FreeMan We weren't usually carrying cargo or passengers; the aircraft was an aerial platform. $\endgroup$
    – J W
    Dec 18, 2016 at 20:45

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