How much is the absolute minimum runway required for takeoff and landing? How much could you reduce the takeoff/landing distance using various methods (eg-standing takeoff)? I'm talking about an A320 under 72,000 kg.

Note: This is at sea level and at normal temperature.

Many sources will provide you with the minimum runway requirements of an aircraft

(eg Wikipedia: Takeoff:2,100 m (6,900 ft) Landing:1,500 m (4,900 ft)

I want to ask how much could you reduce the minimum requirements further by using non-standard methods (such as holding the brakes until the engine spools up, taking off into headwind)

  • $\begingroup$ If you’re going down the headwind path then you need exactly zero feet of runway. $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Aug 30, 2022 at 4:56
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Holding the brakes is more “standard” than you’d think. The most ideal scenario would be a direct headwind on a dry runway on a dry, cold day with high atm pressure (lower pressure alt). I don’t know if the test pilots had all these conditions, but the results of the max performance landings would be a good reference (or the shortest landing distance ever noted). A thorough google search would be needed, at the least. On top everything there’s pilot’s skill level. If you want to know theoretical values, feel free to dig in to the A320 POH. $\endgroup$
    – PapaMike99
    Aug 30, 2022 at 6:53
  • $\begingroup$ By normal temperature do you meant standard day? (29.92 inches mercury, sea level, 15° C? $\endgroup$ Aug 30, 2022 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ youtu.be/cHhZwvdRR5c And youtu.be/602wpcM6EvU $\endgroup$
    – Jim
    Aug 30, 2022 at 17:35
  • $\begingroup$ LATAM operate A320 in Rio(SBRJ)... 1320 meters and the sugar lof ahead. $\endgroup$ Jan 26, 2023 at 11:35

1 Answer 1


The parameter which will influence take-off distance the most is weight.

The figures you quoted are take-off distances at MTOW. But if you reduce the take-off weight, you can use significantly shorter runways.

https://www.airbus.com/sites/g/files/jlcbta136/files/2021-11/Airbus-Commercial-Aircraft-AC-A320.pdf section 3-3-2 gives indications. Here's an example for an A320-200 with CFM56 engines:

enter image description here

As you can see, reducing the take-off weight as much as you can could get you down to about 1200m for take-off. But at sea-level, that means a take-off weight around 64t, 14t below MTOW.

At 72t (which is really quite close to MTOW), you'd probably be around 1600-1700m.

For reference, Gibraltar airport has only a 1776m runway, and still sees A320s flying in and out every day, and I'm pretty sure Easyjet doesn't fly theirs half-empty! That means they have to limit the amount of fuel, so probably no flying to Sharm El Sheikh from there, but the UK seems to be in range.

That's why BA's LCY-JFK flight using A318s stopped at Shannon (only in that direction): the short 1500m runway does not allow to take enough fuel for the whole transatlantic flight (the return flight JFK-LCY was non-stop as there was no limit on fuel taking-off from JFK -- though this was also partially helped by the jet stream). Remember that those A318s were all-business-class so also had a significantly lower payload than usual, which shows the importance of fuel.

Reducing take-off weight is probably the only reliable method of reducing take-off distance, so you can use it for scheduled operations. Other parameters are either intrinsic to the airport (nature of the runway, altitude...) or you have no control over it (wind speed and direction, air pressure...).

If the question is not about regular scheduled operations but rather a one-off event (e.g. "had to land on a very short runway in an emergency, how do I get out of there now?"), then you could indeed wait for some of the better conditions, but I'm pretty sure the first thing you'll do is reduce weight first. No payload, and just the amount of fuel required to get to the closest "normal" airfield. Only in the case that wouldn't be enough would one need to be more creative.


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