Various Stages of Flight of an Aircraft

There are various stages of a flight.
There are various stages of a flight. (Image: Thomas Northcut/Photodisc/Getty Images)

Flights are carefully calculated journeys involving a number of participants such as the pilots and air traffic control. Flights are broken up into stages to allow easier management of the flight. The stages begin from the moment the plane is loaded to the point when it reaches the end of its journey.


The standing stage is the stage at either end of the flight prior to the pushback or after arrival at the gate, when the aircraft is stationary. It also includes the substages: Engine(s) not operating, engine(s) start-up, engine(s) operating and engine(s) shutdown.


The pushback/towing stage is the phase when the aircraft is assisted by a tow vehicle from the gate, ramp or parking area. It also includes the substages: Assisted, engine(s) not operating, assisted engine(s) start-up, assisted engine(s) operating, assisted and engine(s) shut down.


The taxi stage is when the aircraft is moving on the airport surface under its own power prior to take off or after landing. Substages of taxiing include the power back stage when the aircraft reverses from its park position, the taxi to runway stage when the aircraft moves from the gate to the runway under its own power, the taxi to take off position stage when the aircraft enters the runway until takeoff position and the taxi from runway when the aircraft exits the runway and arrives at the gate.

Take Off

Take off is the stage from the application of take off power until an altitude of 35 feet above the runway elevation. This includes the substages: takeoff and rejected takeoff.

Initial Climb

The initial climb is the stage from the end of the takeoff to the first prescribed power reduction or when the aircraft is 1,000 feet above the runway elevation, whichever is first.

En Route

The en route stage commences at the end of the initial climb and finishes at the end of the controlled descent to the initial approach fix. This includes the substages: climb to cruise, cruise, change of cruise level, descent and holding stages.


Maneuvering refers to any low altitude/aerobatic flight operations. This includes the substages: aerobatics and low flying,


The approach starts from the initial approach fix to the beginning of the landing flare. The approach includes the substages of initial approach, final approach, circuit pattern, base, final and crosswind, and missed approach.


The landing stage is from the beginning of the landing until the aircraft exits the runway, power is applied for take off in a touch and go landing or the aircraft comes to a stop on a runway. Landing includes the substages: flare, landing roll and aborted landing after touchdown.

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