It’s me again, can anyone explain how to know the aircraft’s phase from this picture? Is it cruising or descending if so why its flaps up?enter image description here


1 Answer 1


It is much lower than cruise altitude, I would guess roughly 4000-6000 feet. The flaps are up because it is neither taking off nor landing. Generally flaps are deployed around 2000 feet or below. Given the proximity to New York City it is probably flying an arrival or departure procedure.

If you really wanted to dig deeper you could determine relative position and from Manhattan in the background and compare against published procedures into and out of the city's airports.

  • $\begingroup$ The airplane's position is over Manhattan, about 50th street heading west. $\endgroup$
    – GdD
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 11:58
  • $\begingroup$ Less than 10000 feet its speed would be limited. It may have been light enough to be ok with out flaps. I would guess departing. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 13:50
  • $\begingroup$ In case anyone's interested, you can come up with a rough estimate of the airplane's height by measuring the distance from the base of the Empire State Building to the horizon, using the Empire State Building itself as a scale. By my estimate, from the base of the building to the horizon is about three and a third Empire State Buildings, and the Empire State Building is about 1,500 feet tall (including the spire), giving us an altitude estimate of about 5,000 feet (which precisely matches what Michael already wrote). $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 14:59
  • $\begingroup$ I guessing 3000 ft on an arrival to Newark and is just about to start dumping flap in the next minute or so. $\endgroup$
    – John K
    Commented Feb 16, 2020 at 18:39

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