Do you need to go to start of runway?

Just a quick question:
In airports where the taxi way doesn’t go to the extreme of the runway, do you need to travel down to the end of the runway if your plane has a much shorter take off distance than the runway (for example, when you are in a C172 on a really long runway).

Bonus question:
Are you meant to enter the runway, position yourself and lift off immediately or can you spend 20 seconds doing checks? On the Arrow III from Just Flight there is some pre-takeoff checks which I assume you are meant to do just prior to take off whilst on the runway.

Most airports have a runup area just before the runway where you can to your checks. You should start at the end of the runway regardless of what aircraft you are using, you never know when you might need the who runway in am emergency.


Generally you always want as much runway ahead of you as possible, in case you get a problem during or shortly after takeoff. How to use “extensions” of the runway depends on the particular runway and the published procedures, some just have a displaced threshold, some just don’t have enough taxiway and require “backtracking” and most of all it depends on your runway requirements according to your calculated takeoff run (which wouldn’t be a problem in C172 on a 3,000’ runway on sea level, but see the rule on top). But generally you can decide to enter the runway at a different point (or ask for an “intersection takeoff”) and use less than the entire available runway.

You are supposed to hog the runway as little as possible and clear it ASAP but if P means you have to do stuff to verify a safe takeoff for a few seconds that’s certainly OK. It also depends a little on the airport type and traffic, so if you do your mag check and half of your checklist on the runway on a major airport with the evening traffic approaching in 2-minute separation, someone may start yelling at you.

Good question. Watching Bush Pilot on YouTube on one of the main airports sometimes reports ‘tracking back’ I think is the term, which means he’s entered the runway but is trundling to the end to turn around for lineup.

I do sometimes take off midfield. I’ve also noticed that pilot2atc has an option to request a midfield takeoff so assume it is a correct procedure if you have a short take off aircraft 🤷🏻

No, you can depart from any intersection you want.
Even airliners are not always using the full runway lenght.

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Hi It’ll depend upon what kind of airport you’re taking off. If international, except specific authorization from ATC, you’ll have to backtrack the runway up to the end and then have your 180 ° turn in order to face your given take off runway. On other airports then I beleive you still have to talk with the ATC but basically you can start from any position provided you have enough distance to take off safely. Which is quite easy with a C172.

The two most useless things for every pilot is the runway behind them and the air in the fuel tank(s).


If the take off performance calculation results in a sufficient take off distance from the intersection, why would you need to perform a backtrack and what does this has to do with an international airport?

If you completely disregard time and fuel, that’s true.

First, you can use less than full length for departure at any airport outside of a NOTAM against it or denial by ATC. It’s up to you to know the performance of your aircraft to k ow if it is possible.

ATC can assign you an intersection takeoff: N1234, runway 24 at taxiway “charlie”, taxi via “alpha”. You can accept this, or deny it and request full length. You can also request an intersection takeoff where you would normally be assigned full length as well.

With no ATC, It’s totally up to you to decide if this can be done safely.

And NEVER take any runway unless you are directed to by ATC or, if you are at a non-tower airport, have done ALL your pre-takeoff checks and are ready to go. Spend as little time as possible on the runway in this situation.

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That’s exactly what I was meaning. In any case ATC or specific NOTAM are adamant. If they do not exist then it’s up to the pilot to appréciation the situation according to the aircraft specificities.

Some (old) aircraft require some time lined up on the runway, easily up to a minute or two. An-22 or Mig23 come to mind (from recent youtube videos). If you happen to fly aircraft like these you‘d inform ATC when you taxi to the runway so they can manage you properly. Generally however as said above be quick.

From real life experience, you don’t always need the full length of the runway. The goal is to reach between Vx and Vy within the shortest, safest distance* and climb to the altitude assigned by ATC (unless an emergency forces you to abort the takeoff, reference V1) . There have been times where I’ve been cleared for a takeoff from an crossing taxiway with ~5300’ left, while other times I’ve been cleared for the entire length (~8700’).

The same applies for landing; make it as short as possible (if it can be done safely) then vacate at the nearest taxiway.

Usually prior to crossing the critical area for the runway, most if not all pre-takeoff items should be addressed (lights camera, action)

*The distance is very dependent upon the weight, performance attributes of a plane, as well as density altitudes, from my experience flying a 172 from airports near sea level, they don’t require as much distance as an airport that is beyond 5,000 MSL like out in the rockies

Most of the airports in-sim I have seen where you need to backtrack to one end of the runway usually have a turn around.

It’s best to do your final checks while not on the runway. Lots of time there is a specific spot for this, if not the taxiway right before you pull onto the runway would be the best place IMHO.

NAP (Not A Pilot)

Hah, I don’t think I ever used the full length of the main runway at the airport I trained at, and that includes my Instrument rating. Back in the day it was RWY 35R @ Golf, but mag variation and taxiway changes have now made it RWY 36 @ A4. It’s still the same pavement, though.