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How short should a runway be considered as a shortfield runway?

Asked by: 1654 views General Aviation, Private Pilot, Student Pilot

How short should a runway be considered as a shortfield runway for shortfield takeoff and landings?

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2 Answers



  1. Kris Kortokrax on May 30, 2015

    It depends.
    What might be short for a Baron would be just fine for a Cub.

    What might be OK at sea level for a 172 could turn into a short runway at 5000 feet elevation.

    What would be OK with no obstacles might require a short field technique with obstacles.

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  2. John D Collins on May 30, 2015

    There are numerous factors that determine how much runway is required for a given aircraft. to take off or land. Performance charts cover many of them, such as weight, temperature, wind. In more sophisticated performance analysis, the runway slope and surface or surface conditions are also considered. With larger multi-engine aircraft, the failure of one of the engines and the ability to continue the takeoff or stop on the remaining runway is considered. However, there are still factors that are not considered in the performance charts such as pilot skill, engine performance, configuration, tires and brake condition. So it is prudent to add a fudge factor to allow for these variances. It is not unreasonable to add an extra 20 to 50 percent to the predicted performance. I consider any combination of runway and conditions that doesn’t provide me with at least a 50% safety factor a short runway for my purposes. In my Bonanza, a normal day near sea level, I need 1000 feet for ground roll and will depart on a 1500 foot runway if there are no obstacles, whereas I might want at least 4000+ feet on a high density day in Colorado. Bottom line for me, calculate the book performance verses the conditions and add 50%. If the runway is shorter than that, change the payload, fly another day or don’t land at the airport in the first place,

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