PHASE OF FLIGHT

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PHASE OF FLIGHT DEFINITIONS AND USAGE NOTES

INTRODUCTION

The International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) and the Commercial Aviation Safety Team (CAST), which includes Government officials and aviation industry leaders, have jointly chartered the CAST/ICAO Common Taxonomy Team (CICTT). The team was charged with developing common taxonomies and definitions for aviation accident and incident reporting systems. The common taxonomies and definitions are intended to improve the aviation community's capacity to focus on common safety issues. CICTT includes experts from several air carriers, aircraft manufacturers, engine manufacturers, pilot associations, regulatory authorities, transportation safety boards, ICAO, and members from Canada, European Union, France, Italy, Japan, Netherlands, United Kingdom, and United States. CICTT is co-chaired by a representative from ICAO, and the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (representing CAST).

To accomplish its objectives, CICTT plans to develop the following common taxonomies and definitions:

Phase of Flight (the subject of this release); Accident Categories (already released); Occurrence Categories (already released); Aircraft Make/Model/Series tables; Engine Make/Model/Series tables; and a detailed taxonomy for accident/incident data systems. It is important to note that CICTT does not expect governments, international organizations and corporations to immediately change existing data systems or definitions. The intent is to provide 'target' taxonomies and definitions so that as organizations make plans for, and implement new safety systems, these new taxonomies and definitions are adopted.

The Phase of Flight definitions below consist of broad operational phases, plus "Unknown." Most of the phases have sub-phases. Organizations that use these definitions may use the broad phases, the more detailed sub-phases, or a combination. This version focuses on powered fixed-wing land and rotorcraft operations. Future updates will cover other aircraft.

For the purposes of this document, phase of flight refers to a period within a flight. A flight begins when any person boards the aircraft with the intention of flight and continues until such time as all such persons have disembarked. [ICAO Annex 13] Contact points for all CICTT work are the co-chairs:

STANDING (STD)

Prior to pushback or taxi, or after arrival, at the gate, ramp, or parking area, while the aircraft is stationary.

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Engine(s) Not Operating

Engine(s) Start-up

Engine(s) Operating

Engine(s) Shutdown

Usage notes:

Engine shutdown is from the start of the shutdown sequence until the engine(s) cease rotation

PUSHBACK/TOWING (PBT)

Aircraft is moving in the gate, ramp, or parking area, assisted by a tow vehicle [tug].

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Assisted, Engine(s) Not Operating

Assisted, Engine(s) Start-up

Assisted, Engine(s) Operating

Assisted, Engine(s) Shut Down

Usage Notes:

Unassisted movement in the gate or ramp area is included in the TAXI phase.

Engine shutdown is from the start of the shutdown sequence until the engine(s) cease rotation

TAXI (TXI)

The aircraft is moving on the aerodrome surface under its own power prior to takeoff or after landing.

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Taxi to Runway: Commences when the aircraft begins to move under its own power leaving the gate, ramp, apron, or parking area, and terminates upon reaching the runway.

Taxi to Takeoff Position: From entering the runway until reaching the takeoff position.

Taxi from Runway: Begins upon exiting the landing runway and terminates upon arrival at the gate, ramp, apron, or parking area, when the aircraft ceases to move under its own power.

Usage Notes:

Throughout this document the term runway or landing area is taken in its broadest sense and includes runways, landing strips, waterways, unimproved landing areas, and landing pads, (which may include offshore platforms, building roofs, roads, ships, and fields), or other intended landing areas.

Taxiing includes air taxiing for rotorcraft

TAKEOFF (TOF)

From the application of takeoff power, through rotation and to an altitude of 35 feet above runway elevation.

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Takeoff. From the application of takeoff power, through rotation and to an altitude of 35 feet above runway elevation or until gear-up selection, whichever comes first.

Rejected Takeoff. During Takeoff, from the point where the decision to abort has been taken until the aircraft begins to taxi from the runway

Usage Note:

Landback during rotorcraft operations is considered a rejected takeoff

INITIAL CLIMB (ICL)

From the end of the Takeoff sub-phase to the first prescribed power reduction, or until reaching 1000 feet above runway elevation or the VFR pattern, whichever comes first

EN ROUTE (ENR)

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR): From completion of Initial Climb through cruise altitude and completion of controlled descent to the Initial Approach Fix (IAF).

Visual Flight Rules (VFR): From completion of Initial Climb through cruise and controlled descent to the VFR pattern altitude or 1000 feet above runway elevation, whichever comes first.

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Climb to Cruise: IFR: From completion of Initial Climb to arrival at initial assigned cruise altitude. VFR: From completion of Initial Climb to initial cruise altitude.

Cruise: Any level flight segment after arrival at initial cruise altitude until the start of descent to the destination.

Change of Cruise Level: Any climb or descent during cruise after the initial climb to cruise, but before descent to the destination.

Descent: IFR: Descent from cruise to either Initial Approach Fix (IAF) or VFR pattern entry.

VFR: Descent from cruise to the VFR pattern entry or 1000 feet above the runway elevation, whichever comes first.

Holding: Execution of a predetermined maneuver (usually an oval race track pattern) which keeps the aircraft within a specified airspace while awaiting further clearance. Descent during holding is also covered in this sub-phase.

MANEUVERING (MNV)

Low altitude/aerobatic flight operations

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Aerobatics: Any intentional maneuvering that exceeds 30 degrees of pitch attitude or 60 degrees of bank, or both, or abnormal acceleration (usually associated with air shows and military flight, or with related training flights).

Low Flying: Intentional low-altitude flight not connected with a landing or takeoff, usually in preparation for or during observation work, demonstration, photography work, aerial application, training, sight seeing, ostentatious display, or other similar activity. For rotorcraft, this also includes hovering (not associated with landing or takeoff) and handling external loads.

APPROACH (APR)

Instrument Flight Rules (IFR): From the Initial Approach Fix (IAF) to the beginning of the landing flare. Visual Flight Rules (VFR): From the point of VFR pattern entry, or 1000 feet above the runway elevation, to the beginning of the landing flare.

This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Initial Approach (IFR): From the IAF to the Final Approach Fix (FAF).

Final Approach (IFR): From the FAF to the beginning of the landing flare.

Circuit Pattern - Downwind (VFR): A flight path (normally 1,000 feet above the runway) which commences abeam the departure end of the runway and runs parallel to the runway in the direction opposite to landing, and terminates upon initiating the turn to base leg.

Circuit Pattern - Base (VFR): From start of turn at end of downwind leg until the start of the turn for final.

Circuit Pattern - Final (VFR): From the start of the turn to intercept the extended runway centerline, normally at the end of base leg, to the beginning of the landing flare. Includes VFR straight-in approaches.

Circuit Pattern - Crosswind (VFR): A flight path of the VFR traffic pattern, which is perpendicular to the landing runway, crosses the departure end of the runway, and connects with the downwind leg.

Missed Approach/Go-Around: From the first application of power after the crew elects to execute a missed approach or go-around until the aircraft re-enters the sequence for a VFR pattern (go-around) or until the aircraft reaches the IAF for another approach (IFR)

Usage Note:

A holding procedure executed at the IAF is included in the ENROUTE phase

LANDING (LDG)

From the beginning of the landing flare until aircraft exits the landing runway, comes to a stop on the runway, or when power is applied for takeoff in the case of a touch-and-go landing This phase of flight includes the following sub-phases:

Flare: Transition from nose-low to nose-up attitude just before landing until touchdown.

Landing Roll: After touchdown until aircraft exits the landing runway or comes to a stop, whichever occurs first.

Usage Note:

For Rotorcraft, includes both vertical and running landings

EMERGENCY DESCENT (EMG)

A controlled descent during any airborne phase in response to a perceived emergency situation.

UNCONTROLLED DESCENT (UND)

A descent during any airborne phase in which the aircraft does not sustain controlled flight.

POST-IMPACT (PIM)

Any of that portion of the Flight which occurs after impact with a person, object, obstacle or terrain.

Usage note:

While not a Phase of Flight per se, this phase is added to permit accurate sequence of event reconstruction for occurrences. For example, to capture post impact fire.

UNKNOWN (UNK)

Phase of flight is not discernable from the information available.

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Last updated: 07-08-2005.