This question is in the context of commercial flights with passengers.

What is the definition of "takeoff" and "landing" phases? Does it include taxi? Is it from lift-off for takeoff? and touchdown for landing?

A link to the official document would be much appreciated.

  • $\begingroup$ This seems to be an important question and there's evidence that concurrence does not exist. We are still waiting for a report but it's likely that the Emirates EK-521 B773 crash was a result of a disagreement between a flight crew and their planes TO/GA system over what constituted a landing. $\endgroup$
    – user28387
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 18:27
  • $\begingroup$ Depends on the context. Simply being on a runway with the intent or clearance to takeoff could be part of takeoff. when it ends could be wheels off the ground, out of ground effect, accelerated to Vx, clear of obstacles, Vy, leaving pattern altitude or company rules about sterile cockpit could set a specific altitude. Context matters. $\endgroup$
    – Max Power
    Commented Jan 26, 2023 at 23:59

2 Answers 2


According to the FAA FAA Airplane Flying Handbook, there are three components that make a takeoff:

  1. Takeoff roll (ground roll) is the portion of the takeoff procedure during which the airplane is accelerated from a standstill to an airspeed that provides sufficient lift for it to become airborne.

  2. Lift-off is when the wings are lifting the weight of the airplane off the surface. In most airplanes, this is the result of the pilot rotating the nose up to increase the angle of attack (AOA).

  3. The initial climb begins when the airplane leaves the surface and a climb pitch attitude has been established. Normally, it is considered complete when the airplane has reached a safe maneuvering altitude or an en route climb has been established.

So to have a take-off you must have these three components. That would include a touch and go as well takeoffs from a full stop.

As far as an official definition of landings I didn't see anything official in the FAA documentation but I would say that the airplane touching the ground would count as a landing.

  • $\begingroup$ The Airplane Flying Handbook is not regulatory. $\endgroup$
    – mongo
    Commented May 18, 2018 at 13:35

Normally, definitions are contained in 14 CFR 1. That part does not define takeoff nor does it define landing. Since they are not defined there, and to my knowledge anywhere in the regulations, a generalized definition of takeoff or landing.

Therefore, the common definition (or really usage) of takeoff or landing would apply, at least in legal matters.

One should be careful deriving definitions from advisory material.

It is noteworthy that for different aircraft, takeoff may mean different things. For example, on a 787, when the mains leave the surface of the runway, we might consider that takeoff. However, a R22 helicopter, hovering on a ramp, or taxiing to a runway may not be considered as having taken off, even though it is not in contact with the surface or a surface structure.

Takeoff has different nuances, and mechanics, for different aircraft, and even different operations. There is no one regulatory definition, although some aspects of a definition may be inferred from some regulations. Advisory material do not constitute regulations.


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