What is DOW in Aviation? (Dry Operational Weight)

Dry Operational Weight (DOW) is a crucial term in the field of aviation. It refers to the weight of an aircraft without considering any fuel, oil, or other liquids on board. The DOW is also known as the basic empty weight, and it includes items such as the airframe, engines, avionics, and all other necessary components required for the aircraft to operate normally.

The DOW is an important parameter that needs to be determined accurately for various calculations and operational purposes. It affects the aircraft’s performance, including its maximum takeoff weight, fuel consumption, and payload capacity. Airlines and aircraft manufacturers rely on the DOW to ensure safe and efficient operations.

The Importance of Dry Operational Weight

The accuracy of the DOW calculation is crucial for several reasons. First and foremost, it determines the aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight (MTOW) – the total weight at which the aircraft can safely take off without exceeding its structural limitations. The MTOW is a vital parameter for flight planning, as it determines the amount of fuel, cargo, and passengers that can be carried onboard.

Furthermore, the DOW affects the fuel consumption of an aircraft. A lighter aircraft requires less fuel to complete a flight compared to a heavier one. By accurately determining the DOW, airlines can optimize fuel efficiency, reducing costs and environmental impact. Additionally, the DOW plays a significant role in determining an aircraft’s payload capacity – the maximum weight of passengers, cargo, and other items that can be carried.

Airline operators must consider the DOW when planning their flights to ensure the aircraft can carry the intended payload while staying within its weight limitations. Overloading an aircraft can lead to reduced performance, increased fuel consumption, and potentially compromise safety. Therefore, accurate knowledge of the DOW is essential for safe and efficient operations.

Calculating Dry Operational Weight

The dry operational weight can be determined during the aircraft’s initial certification process or through periodic weighing and recalibration. To calculate the DOW, all items that contribute to the aircraft’s weight are considered, including the airframe, engines, avionics, furnishings, safety equipment, and other installed components.

To ensure accuracy, the DOW calculation often involves using calibrated scales or weighing equipment designed specifically for aircraft. These scales are capable of measuring the weight distribution across multiple landing gears, allowing for an accurate determination of the empty weight. The calculated DOW is typically recorded in an official document known as the Weight and Balance Report.

It is important to note that the DOW is subject to change throughout an aircraft’s lifespan. Modifications, repairs, and component replacements can all affect the empty weight. Therefore, periodic weighing and updating of the DOW is crucial for maintaining accurate operational data.


Dry Operational Weight (DOW) is a fundamental term in aviation that refers to the weight of an aircraft without considering any fuel, oil, or other liquids on board. It plays a vital role in determining an aircraft’s maximum takeoff weight, fuel consumption, and payload capacity. Accurate knowledge of the DOW is essential for safe and efficient flight operations.

By understanding the concept of DOW and its significance, airlines and aircraft manufacturers can optimize flight planning, reduce fuel consumption, and ensure compliance with weight limitations. The accurate calculation of DOW provides valuable data for pilots, maintenance crews, and airline operators, contributing to the overall safety and efficiency of aviation operations.

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