How close can traffic on final be and still have traffic enter the runway for takeoff?

On the training servers some guys get impatient with being held short while waiting on traffic on final. On the other hand, when you do try to squeeze someone in between landings, they invariably are the ones that take their sweet time doing so and you end up issuing a go around. I’ve noticed the expert server controllers are conservative about this (as they should be), but the pilots are much more understanding and don’t issue multiple requests for takeoff while waiting for clearance. In real life, what is the minimum distance?


As far as I Know the Minimum distance for departing Traffic is 3nm

“Cleared for immediate takeoff” should cover them rolling onto the runway and taking off without delay. Unfortunately some people are very slow. You could use the new “please expedite” command under misc messages.


I personally use 4 miles. If a plane is 4 or less I will hold short the takeoff. If it is a fighter or something/someone I know will take off in a hurry I will give an immediate. But since 80% of people do not know what immediate means I just hold them short. Sometimes it takes people 20-30 seconds to reply and start rolling and by then I have to give a hold position.

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@Codeman… MaxSez: I find Mr. Codemn’s Topic completely on point. Pilot that call Final when turning base rather that at 2/3 miles on Approach or a short final or just as they intercept the Localizer are a part of the problem. The on call loiterers at the threshold when called away or who bypass the first exit available after recovery and doodle. also need a swift kick! Controllers who don’t allow intersection departures for light stuff like a Light GA or a light Trash Hauler like a Dash or a 737 need a flow control lesson. The habit of sticking to a single runway at a multi runway field when they could launch & recover utilizing the full bag shows a lack of confidence and proficiency. There are a whole bag full of examples that if I had the time I’ll lay on ya. This is the same old song! It’s time to change the sheet music and strike up the band.

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Depending on who’s on final and who’s awaiting departure, I usually allow 3nm for light aircraft and 6nm for heavies.

Whilst I find your absolute opposition to IFATC entertaining, you’ll should know that controllers who don’t fully optimise runways, is a ground for a call over by Mods and possible suspension.

You’ve also said many times that GA pilots should not attempt to fly out of a busy ‘B’, and I don’t know any controller that won’t let a GA out on departure.


I think a lot of those examples are more often caused by the limitations placed on both ATC and Pilots by the IF coms system.

However no excuse for use of single runway for departure AND arrivals when multiple are available…

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@IceBlue… MaxSez: Let’s be fair shall we, if your gonna quote me do it in full context, you sound like a candidate for Presidant. I have no idea how the IFATC Captain runs his ship! I’m just an observer! As For GA’s & “B’s”. I said "Bizy B’s, interpretation: GA are welcome at B’s during off peek periods. Context is everything. I have not changed my song since Christ was a corporal.
"I am not in “absolute opposition of IFATC”. I respect the folk who volunteer and work the system striving for perfection. As I said I’m an observer user of the service. If you find fault in my observation sing out but don’t draw personal or flawed conclusions. Wanna call me out, next time have the maturity and courtesy to use a PM. Gooday Sir

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To everyone in general and no one in specific.
Although I am relatively new to the forums (~2 months), it seems the last few days discussions have gotten personal quickly real quickly.
Most times it seems to begin with opining or introducing stuff that is not on topic.
Please, for folks like me that use the feedback to improve our knowledge base and skills, it just muddies the water and makes sifting through the back and forth to find meaningful answers difficult.
PLEASE try to focus on the honest question be an adult
Different perspectives and answers are ok and helpful.



School holidays (in the U.K. at least) means we’ve a lot more youngsters on the forum with time on their hands and mischief to make. Although that might be slightly unfair as us adults are equally capable of behaving like numpties.

Max is always a wee bit forthright but I’ve personally a huge amount of respect for him. He knows his stuff and you’ll always know where you stand with him. Just don’t tell him I was nice about him, the curmudgeonly old bodach’s ego is big enough :-)


Without diving into too much detail between @Maxmustang and @IceBlue I do have a question that I think both could weigh in. Regarding the pilot calling final when turning from base or 2/3 distance, It’s my understanding that once you’ve been given landing clearance you do not call in your position any further. “N211FT, number 2, cleared for landing”. So I’m typically issued a landing clearance while on the downwind, therefore I don’t call base or final. Thoughts?

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Once you’ve received landing clearance you should not report your position.


MaxSez: @Flightfan84… No final call in controlled airspace after clearence, correct!. Believe things got hot and heavy so there was some mud in the water in the preceding exchanges. (At times as a safety of flight issue I’ll call final in controlled airspace if the flow is heave and at appears the craft that proceeded me may not have cleared the active. I do it as a matter of prudence, pilot discreshion and an attention getter for a controller working both ground & tower)

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Very good, thank you for that info. Thank you @SirMS as well. So with all of that in mind and to get right on to the topic, if traffic is “on final” there should be no traffic entering the runway, agreed? My question now is what is the protocol (if any) distance for “final” and does that vary by aircraft. Hopefully this makes sense, and at this point it’s really in regard to Unicom.

I’ll pass this technical one to @Brandon_Sandstrom an IFATC, he has the IF solution. Stand by…

(I don’t do short finals unless necessary due to condition of Wx & field. I prefer a minimum 5 mile Final in my GA conditions permitting. Trash Hauler a full ILS Red Zone about 10 miles +/-… In both controlled & Uncontrolled an obstructed runway calls for a “Go Around”. Safety of Flight is paramount. Remember there are old Pilots and bold Pilots but there are very few old, bold Pilots.


On Unicom if an aircraft calls in on final he has the right of way over any other aircraft. In the real world pilots can communicate with each other, and you can ask if you can go ahead of them or not but you have to ask. A lot of times while flying patterns someone will call in on a 10 mile final. Being in a Cessna and no more then a half a mile from the end of the runway I’ll offen ask if I can go ahead of them. Since we don’t have this comm use your best judgment. I would say dont take off if they are closer then 4-5 miles. But there is no set distance just use your best judgment.


That’s more than good enough for me. Thank you all, I learned something new and I hope this helps the topic as well.


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