What are the 4 stages of flight?

  • Jul 10, 2024
What are the 4 stages of flight?

The Four Stages of Flight is a work of literature that portrays the process of becoming a writer. When an aircraft is airborne, it passes through four phases of flight or better still, the four flight stages; the takeoff phase, phase of climb, phase of cruise, and phase of descent/landing. It is crucial to note these phases and how a typical flight through them looks like because of the importance it holds in determining the flow of operation for pilots and anyone interested in the field of aviation. In this article are going to know what occurs in the four stages of flight.


The takeoff is the initial part of a flight and it is crucial in the entire flight. Takeoff is when the aircraft starts moving on the runway gaining acceleration till a point when it attains a certain speed known as rotation speed. On rotation speed, the pilot slows the aircraft down and adds back pressure to the control column to raise the nose of the aircraft. This raises the angle of attack of the wing and the lift force is generated. When the lift force is greater than the aircraft's weight, the aircraft is no longer on the runway, and it is airborne.

V Various factors influence the takeoff speed and distance of the aircraft. The most critical factors include the weight of an aircraft, the density of the air, the length of the runway, and the winds. Large planes as well as those that require the use of steep slopes or airstrips in hot temperatures require higher speeds for effective take-offs. It is important to note that the majority of jet airliners perform their rotational movement at speeds ranging between 130 and 180 knots. The takeoff speed allows adequate wing loading to offer the necessary lift to support the aircraft during its takeoff. Lack of speed puts an aircraft in a vulnerable position with little or no chance of achieving flying altitude.

When the plane starts to take off, the pilot applies back egestion force on the control and brings the nose even higher to achieve the angle of climb. At the same time, wheels and flaps are retracted once the aircraft moves away from the airfield. This is the end of what we can consider as the takeoff stage in the economic development of the Scandinavian countries.


The flying phase that comes right after the takeoff phase is the climb phase. This is the phase where the aircraft starts ascending to a required altitude at the climb acceleration speed. The pitch angle is set to around 15 degrees first to enable the aircraft to take off in a climb but at an initially slower rate. Whenever the speed is built up, a higher angle of climbs can be set to achieve a faster rate of climb.

During the climb, the main goal is to acquire height as quickly as possible, but still at an efficient climb speed. This speed is called Vy allowing maximum increase in height within a given period. It is the measure between the aircraft’s climbing speed and forward speed. This was found to be effective but over-elevating can lead to engine power and rate of climb being cut. To climb too slow enables a better climbing rate but less ground distance achieved. Vy speeds of as many as 300 knots may be attained by newer jets and the rate of climb.

During the initial climb, pilots lower the flaps and extend the landing gear to allow them to cool down faster. In climb, flaps are fully retracted to avoid any increased drag that would slow the speed of the aircraft. It then slows down along the cruise altitude to complete the climb stage.


The cruise phase is the longest phase of any flight sometimes consuming up to 2/3 of the flight time. As for time, it considers the majority of the total journey time. During a cruise, the aircraft sustains both altitude and airspeed most efficiently, considering fuel consumption. This is because it enables it to achieve maximum ground distance. Latter-day airliners take off from and fly at altitudes that range between thirty-five to forty-five thousand feet. Their speed during cruise is, therefore, dependent on several determinants that include; type of aircraft, weather, and altitude. Cruise speeds for larger passenger planes are typically at 85 to 90 percent of the MOE or Maximum Operating Speed. For the majority of large aircraft, this is defined as 480 to 580 knots.

Cruise enables aircraft at high altitudes to utilize thin air to decrease the drag that exists on the plane. Less thrust needed results in significant fuel conservation during long-distance journeys on an aircraft. This is because many changes in speed or altitude are minimal and engines run at lower power settings. The autopilot controls the plane making sure that it maintains certain specific heading, altitude, and speed. Small corrections represent other interferences such as turbulence and wind affecting the airplane in the air.

It is over when is time to glide downward and land at the intended airport of the intended tourist locale. This is particularly true when on long trips where the plane may begin a descent multiple times owing to airspace jurisdiction changes or stormy conditions. However, it is important to note that the major portion of the descent is carried near the arrival airport.

Descent and Landing

The last phase of flight is the Landing phase during which the aircraft is maneuvered safely to the surface of the ground. The task in store here is to descend whilst the speed is maintained at an acceptable level. First, pilots employ low power settings and steep descents for a sustained rate of descent flying. This could take up to gliding with the engines at idle for an extended period. Stalling, overspeeding, or structural failure due to rapid changes in pressure are some of the reasons that can go wrong when the altitude is reduced. Thus, descents start several miles away from an airport. A normal jet airliner begins a descent to land anywhere between 100 to 150 nautical miles before reaching the destination airport.

Towards the end of the flight and when the aircraft is approaching the destination airport, it is required to also reduce its speed while descending. A speed brake is used by cockpit personnel on the wing to create drag. The landing gear is down and locked, and wing flaps are being slowly set. These actions increase drag if the aircraft is to be slowed down in the air. It may run the engines at a low speed for some time to increase and maintain speed if the aircraft slows down. The gear is down, the flaps are out most of the time soon after the aircraft has reached approximately 10,000 feet altitude.

The last phase of the descent continues into the landing process, as it is a part of this phase. Through the controlled 3-degree descent path towards the runway threshold, the pilot can maintain a smooth and safe approach. With the aid of the instruments and markers along the concrete strip, the aircraft is aligned with the runway centerline. During the flare, there is a short period in which altitude loss is stopped before the aircraft lands on the runway. Speed brakes which deploy causing rapid deceleration are accompanied by reverse thrust. The aircraft departs the runway once fully maneuvered, ending the fourth and last act of the flight.


All aircraft go through the same four cycles of operation during a flight from one airport to another they include take-off, climb, cruise, and landing. Just like in a game, the goals and the arrangement of the aircraft in each stage determine the efficiency and safety of the flight. The four stages of the cycle are in a manner that easily allows change of the altitude and speed for the aircraft. All the phases described are vital in pilot training, and it is a vital skill to master each of them. And the synchronization between them makes today's aircraft bring passengers safely through continents.

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