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Can anyone explain how to calculate takeoff and landing distances using the chart for C172s, and please give me an example?

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  • $\begingroup$ If you have an iPhone or iPad, there is a free App called "C172 Performance". I often use this before I fly a C172. apps.apple.com/ca/app/c172-performance/id741721884 $\endgroup$ – Mike Sowsun Apr 3 at 16:31
  • $\begingroup$ Yes, I can. But, this is definitely something best taught in person, or at least in real time. It is not too complex once you get the hang of it. Do you have a CFI you can ask? Also, to what year and model of C172 are you referring? Some POHs have a textual table to calculate each of those performance figures. Some have a complex looking x/y-axis graph. $\endgroup$ – Dean F. Apr 3 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ You can also find an explanation here aviation.stackexchange.com/questions/13129/… $\endgroup$ – Dean F. Apr 3 at 17:45
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There are many ways to calculate aircraft performance. Some ways are entirely manual through the use of formulas. Some ways use electronic means like apps and special calculators. Some ways use pre-calculated Tables. Then there are ways that use graphs and charts. Let’s tackle the charts way.

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First, remember one thing. These charts are made from data obtained using highly experienced and skilled test pilots using brand new airplanes with ideal performance and under ideal conditions. Since you probably meet none of these parameters (most of us don’t), it is best to add as much as 50% fudge-factor to your results as a safety buffer.

Think of the Takeoff and the Landing Performance Charts as each being a combination of 4 separate charts.

  1. The Pressure Altitude to Density Altitude conversion chart.
  2. The effect of Density Altitude on weight chart.
  3. The effect of wind on distance chart.
  4. The additional distance needed to clear an obstacle chart.

To start your calculations, read any associated text on the chart. It will give you parameters that must be met in order to make the chart as accurate as possible. They may also give you factors to consider and/or adjust in your calculations.

The Pressure Altitude to Density Altitude conversion chart.

Next, find out the Pressure Altitude and Temperature at Field Elevation for your point of departure. You may have to obtain the Pressure Altitude by calculating it using your Field Elevation and Atmospheric Barometric Pressure reading. Another chart may be handy for this.

Start your graph entering at the horizontal Temperature axis at your Field Elevation Temperature. Follow the graph line vertically up to where it intercepts the line representing your Field Elevation Pressure Altitude. Follow the graph line horizontally to the right until it intercepts the Reference Line for the next section of the chart.

The effect of Density Altitude on weight chart.

Enter the next section at the point where your drawn graph line from the previous section intercepts the Reference Line. Draw a line that roughly parallels the diagonal lines immediately above and below your drawn line. Find the point at which your drawn line intercepts the vertical graph line representing the actual total weight of your aircraft at the point the performance data would be used (takeoff weight or landing weight). Draw another line horizontally from the point of interception, to the next Reference Line.

The effect of wind on distance chart

Enter the next section at the point where your drawn graph line from the previous section intercepts the Reference Line. Draw a line that roughly parallels the diagonal lines immediately above and below your drawn line. Find the point at which your drawn line intercepts the vertical graph line representing the actual Wind Component at the point the performance data would be used (takeoff or landing). Draw another line horizontally from the point of interception, to the next Reference Line. If the winds are calm, use the 0 wind graph line that coincides with the Reference Line. Your drawn line would then be an individual horizontal line from the reference line to the next Reference Line.

The additional distance needed to clear an obstacle chart.

Enter the next section at the point where your drawn graph line from the previous section intercepts the Reference Line. Draw a line that roughly parallels the diagonal lines immediately above and below your drawn line. Find the point at which your drawn line intercepts the vertical graph line representing the actual obstacle height AGL you would have to navigate/avoid at the point the performance data would be used (takeoff or landing). Draw another line horizontally from the point of interception, to the vertical axis on the right. If there is not an obstacle, use the 0 height graph line that coincides with the Reference Line. Your drawn line would then be an individual horizontal line from the reference line to the vertical axis.

Results.

The value you read on the y-axis of the chart is the minimum distance you need to accomplish the stated phase of flight under the given conditions. As a reminder, there will be different charts for different phases of flight. A phase of flight may have multiple charts. An example of this is a chart with flaps and a chart without flaps. Make sure you are using the correct charts and conditions for your aircraft and situation.

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  • $\begingroup$ thank you so much $\endgroup$ – acacia Apr 4 at 7:13
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This comes from the Cessna 172R POH and is typical of takeoff and landing performance calculations for all Cessna 172s.

First off READ ALL OF THE RELEVANT NOTES IN THE PERFORMANCE SECTION of the AFM as they explain this in detail.

Takeoff Notes and example calculation

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But as an example, let’s assume we are departing Gerfield County airport in Rifle, CO (KRIL).

KRIL ON A VFR SECTIONAL

It’s a warm spring day in early June. The local METAR reads.

KRIL 022006Z AUTO 06308KT P6SM SKC 22/08 A3016 RMK A02.

As loaded, our C-172R airplane weights 2247 lbs at takeoff.

The second step in any kind of preflight work is to GATHER ALL THE RELEVANT DATA. Here, we’re going to need the chart supplement entry for KRIL as well as the Airplane Flight Manual for the C-172R.

KRIL CHART SUPPLEMENT I

KRIL CHART SUPPLEMENT II

C172R TAKEOFF PERFORMANCE CHART

From the sectional and the supplement, we see KRIL has a field elevation of 5537 ft. The runway is paved and 7000ft in length with a 1.0% grade up heading east. The winds were 063 True at 8 knots (local mag variation is 10° E, so this is 053 @ 8 kts). Using a E6B gives us a takeoff headwind of 7 kts). Local temperature was 22°C.

Let’s follow POH recommended procedure here and select the next higher value listed in the takeoff performance charts. The field elevation was 5537ft, so we’ll select 6000ft. Local surface temperature was 22°C, so we’ll use 30°C. Using an E6B, we can determine with a field altimeter setting of 3016, the pressure altitude will be 5297 ft.

ALSO NOT WELL ANY ADDITIONAL NOTES AND ANNOTATIONS ON THE TAKEOFF DISTANCE CHART. Specifically, for these calculations to work for you, you must have a paved, level runway, have the mixture leaned to maximum RPM, and use the recommended short field takeoff procedure listed in Section 4 of the POH!

In our case we do have a paved runway, but the winds favor using RWY 8, which has a 1.0% upslope to it. This will increase our takeoff roll as we are traveling uphill.

From the takeoff distance chart entry for a pressure altitude of 6000ft and 30°C,

Takeoff roll: 1880 ft Dist. to clear 50ft obstacle: 3590 ft

Note as well that we have a 7kt headwind, which, following the notes, gives us:

Corrected takeoff roll: 1744 ft Corrected dist. to clear 50ft obstacle: 3330 ft

We also have a 1.0% upslope to contend with and the POH offers no advice on this except the takeoff numbers only apply to flat runways.

My advice here: I always include a 30% Factor of Safety in my calculations as POH numbers were prepared in a new airplane flown by experimental test pilots under ideal conditions. My airplane’s condition combined with my piloting technique may be deficient compared with ideal standards.

Using this, we find:

Final takeoff roll: 2268 ft Final dist. to clear 50ft obstacle: 4330 ft.

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  • $\begingroup$ very helpful, thank you! $\endgroup$ – acacia Apr 4 at 7:13

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