Go Back  FlyerTalk Forums > Travel&Dining > TravelBuzz
Reload this Page >

What Does "Cleared for Takeoff" Mean?

What Does "Cleared for Takeoff" Mean?

Old Jan 25, 15, 7:12 am
  #1  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Austin
Programs: AA P4L, WN, BA, DL, UA, HHonors, IHG
Posts: 3,400
What Does "Cleared for Takeoff" Mean?

We've all heard the flight attendant announce "We are cleared for takeoff," but what does that mean? Sometimes the pilot pulls onto the runway right away and begins the takeoff roll, other times s/he may wait for a few minutes.

Why the wait?
Middle_Seat is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 7:28 am
  #2  
A FlyerTalk Posting Legend
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: NYC
Posts: 69,158
The flight attendant is not the one talking with ATC and, generally speaking, isn't even talking with the pilots as the flight deck enters a "sterile" state prior to departure.

Even when it is one of the pilots making the announcement it can vary between "we've been cleared on to the runway to depart immediately" to "we're number 3 in line and everything looks normal so go ahead and get ready" to something else. For the few United planes which have the ATC communications active you can listen to the real conversation and get a better understanding of what's going on there.
sbm12 is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 7:58 am
  #3  
 
Join Date: Feb 2002
Location: BNA
Programs: HH Gold. (Former) UA PP, DL PM, PC Plat
Posts: 6,664
Are you talking about the announcement the F/As make on SWA flights?

On SWA the pilots signal the F/As with a chime a minute or two before they anticipate receiving takeoff clearance. The F/As then make that announcement, which the pilots are listening for, to indicate that the cabin is secure for takeoff.
LarryJ is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 8:47 am
  #4  
 
Join Date: Feb 2014
Location: PHX
Programs: AA Aluminum, WN B+
Posts: 929
Between ATC and the pilots it means the aircraft is authorized to taxi onto the designated runway AND take off (as opposed to "line up and wait", which means taxi onto the end of the runway, but don't take off yet).

The Pilot/Controller Glossary (US Federal Aviation Administration) defines it as "ATC authorization for an aircraft to depart. It is predicated on known traffic and known physical airport conditions."

When the FA or pilots tell the passengers cleared for departure, it's more of a notice to double check seat belts, everything that needs to be stowed is, etc... It's also for the pilots to let the FAs know that an ATC takeoff clearance is immiment and that all FA pre takeoff duties need to be done and the FAs need to be seated.

Last edited by Lost; Jan 25, 15 at 8:57 am
Lost is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 10:02 am
  #5  
 
Join Date: Oct 2010
Location: Manchester, UK
Programs: Flying Blue Gold, Emirates SkyAwards Silver
Posts: 319
Originally Posted by sbm12 View Post
For the few United planes which have the ATC communications active you can listen to the real conversation and get a better understanding of what's going on there.
Have never heard of this before, sounds great, would love to tune into those conversations!
SheBangsTheDrums is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 10:10 am
  #6  
Suspended
 
Join Date: Oct 2006
Location: Atherton, CA
Programs: UA 1K, AA EXP; Owner, Green Bay Packers
Posts: 21,693
Cool

Originally Posted by SheBangsTheDrums View Post
Have never heard of this before, sounds great, would love to tune into those conversations!
It's the beloved "Channel 9" on UA, but it seems fewer and fewer pilots are turning it on these days.
Doc Savage is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 10:33 am
  #7  
 
Join Date: May 2006
Location: BOS and ...
Programs: UA 2MM, DL 500k, WoH 1M, HH Gold, Rad. Gold, CP Gold, Miracle Fruit-su Club
Posts: 9,923
It means it's your turn to roll out and take off.
Firewind is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 10:37 am
  #8  
 
Join Date: Nov 2001
Location: Wanting First. Buying First.
Programs: Lifetime Executive Diamond Platinum VIP with Braniff, Eastern, Midway, National & Pan Am
Posts: 5,513
Originally Posted by Middle_Seat View Post
We've all heard the flight attendant announce "We are cleared for takeoff," but what does that mean?
Spoken by the flight attendant, it means absolutely nothing. It means she is misusing a term.

Ever heard an FA say: "we have started our final approach, so please return your seats to the upright position..." ? Uh no, the airplane has most definitely not started its final approach at the time an FA throws around those aviation terms that sound cool. Likely the plane hasn't been established on any approach at all when the FA drops the "final approach" term on the PA.
Herb687 is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 1:44 pm
  #9  
 
Join Date: Jan 2009
Location: London & Sonoma CA
Programs: UA 1K(until 2021), MM *G for life, Hertz PC, BAEC Silver
Posts: 8,301
I've never heard an FA say that a plane was cleared for take-off. Generally, the FAs make no announcements after the safety briefing until after take-off. The pilots usually make an announcement aimed at the FAs that take-off is imminent and that they should return to their seats. As an avid Ch. 9 listener I can assure the OP that this is some considerable time before the plane is cleared for take-off as usually the take-off clearance is followed immediately by engines revving. Indeed, at LHR, they are required to take off immediately they receive clearance, which will only be after they are on the active runway. The FAs will have been seated well before the plane is on the active runway.
lhrsfo is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 2:00 pm
  #10  
 
Join Date: Nov 2014
Posts: 164
Pilot here. There's two things at work here.

When the airplane taxis onto the runway and sits, it's because the tower told the aircrew to "line up and wait". The controller can't clear the aircraft for takeoff yet due to spacing or aircraft operating on an intersecting runway, but wants the airplane in position and ready for takeoff without delay.

When the tower says "cleared for takeoff", the controller is authorizing the aircraft to take the runway and depart. The plane can either be on the taxiway or lined up and waiting. In either case, the pilots are authorized to do whatever is required to get the aircraft into takeoff position, take the runway, take off, and climb out in accordance with the departure procedure authorized.
pilotalan is offline  
Old Jan 25, 15, 2:43 pm
  #11  
FlyerTalk Evangelist
 
Join Date: Nov 2002
Location: PWM - the way life should be
Posts: 11,881
Originally Posted by Doc Savage View Post
It's the beloved "Channel 9" on UA, but it seems fewer and fewer pilots are turning it on these days.
Back when I flew UA I'd always thank the pilot for turning on channel 9 when getting off the plane. One of them told me once that they have to specifically decide to turn it on, so I wanted to thank them for it.
gfunkdave is offline  
Old Jan 26, 15, 7:13 am
  #12  
Original Poster
 
Join Date: Apr 2001
Location: Austin
Programs: AA P4L, WN, BA, DL, UA, HHonors, IHG
Posts: 3,400
Thanks to everyone who replied! I've been flying Southwest a lot lately, so that's where I've been hearing it. I believe the announcement is made by a FA, not by the pilot, but I could be wrong.

LarryJ, I appreciated your post indicating that the SWA FAs use that phrase to tell the pilots that the passenger cabin is ready for takeoff. I had always assumed the reverse, that it was the FAs telling the pax that the plane is ready for takeoff.
Middle_Seat is offline  
Old Dec 7, 16, 10:22 pm
  #13  
 
Join Date: Dec 2016
Posts: 1
Line up and wait

In FAA Air Traffic Control phraseology, there in no such phraseology as @Cleared to line up and wait. The proper phraseology is "(aircraft call sign) taxi into position and hold, (reason for hold)." The acft should reply with an acknowledgement.
thorntow is offline  
Old Dec 7, 16, 10:31 pm
  #14  
Moderator: Delta SkyMiles, Luxury Hotels, TravelBuzz! and Italy
 
Join Date: Oct 2001
Location: Los Angeles
Posts: 25,445
Originally Posted by thorntow View Post
In FAA Air Traffic Control phraseology, there in no such phraseology as @Cleared to line up and wait. The proper phraseology is "(aircraft call sign) taxi into position and hold, (reason for hold)." The acft should reply with an acknowledgement.
Welcome to Flyertalk, thorntow
Looking forward to future posts. Great to see you here.
Obscure2k
TravelBuzz Moderator
obscure2k is offline  
Old Dec 8, 16, 1:31 am
  #15  
 
Join Date: Jun 2008
Location: GLA
Programs: BA Silver
Posts: 1,803
Originally Posted by Middle_Seat View Post
We've all heard the flight attendant announce "We are cleared for takeoff," but what does that mean? Sometimes the pilot pulls onto the runway right away and begins the takeoff roll, other times s/he may wait for a few minutes.

Why the wait?
How bizarre! I've never heard cabin crew say this (or pilots for that matter).
Scots_Al is offline  

Thread Tools
Search this Thread
Search Engine: