What is FATO in Aviation? (Final Approach And Take Off)

In aviation, the final approach and takeoff, commonly known as FATO, are critical aspects of flight operations. These terms refer to specific phases of an aircraft’s journey when it is either landing or departing from an airport or airstrip. The final approach is the last segment of an aircraft’s landing, starting from the completion of the approach phase and leading to touchdown on the runway. On the other hand, takeoff is the phase in which an aircraft accelerates and gains enough speed and lift to become airborne.

The Final Approach: A Crucial Stage of Landing

The final approach is the most critical phase of landing, as it requires precise control and coordination between the pilot, air traffic controllers, and ground operations personnel. To understand the final approach better, let’s break it down into its key elements:

1. Approach Phase

The approach phase precedes the final approach and involves several important components. One such component is the instrument landing system (ILS), which is used to guide the aircraft along a predetermined glideslope to align it with the runway. The ILS provides pilots with crucial information such as the angle of descent, lateral deviation, and distance to touchdown, ensuring a safe and accurate approach.

2. Transition to Final Approach

Once the aircraft reaches a certain point known as the final approach fix (FAF), it transitions from the approach phase to the final approach. The FAF is typically located a few miles away from the runway threshold and serves as a reference point for the pilot to initiate the descent. From the FAF, the aircraft follows a straight path towards the runway, adjusting its altitude and airspeed accordingly.

3. Landing and Touchdown

The final part of the final approach is the landing and touchdown. As the aircraft nears the runway threshold, the pilot reduces the engine power and adjusts the aircraft’s pitch to initiate the flare maneuver. This maneuver involves smoothly transitioning the aircraft from a descent to a level attitude a few feet above the runway, gradually reducing its rate of descent. The aim is to minimize the vertical speed and ensure a smooth touchdown, absorbing the landing forces through the landing gear.

Takeoff: Accelerating Towards Flight

Unlike the final approach, which involves coming down for landing, takeoff refers to the phase when an aircraft accelerates along the runway to achieve enough speed and lift to become airborne. Let’s delve into the key elements of takeoff:

1. Ground Roll

The ground roll is the initial phase of takeoff, starting from the moment the pilot applies full power to the engines and the aircraft starts moving forward along the runway. During this phase, the aircraft accelerates while the pilot maintains directional control using the rudder pedals. As the speed increases, the wings generate more lift, contributing to the aircraft’s overall ability to become airborne.

2. Rotation

Once the aircraft reaches a predetermined speed known as rotation speed (VR), the pilot pulls back on the control column or yoke to initiate the rotation maneuver. This action increases the aircraft’s angle of attack, causing the nose to pitch up and the main landing gear to leave the ground. The rotation phase is crucial, as it allows for a smooth transition from ground roll to becoming airborne.

3. Climb-Out

Once the aircraft is airborne, it enters the climb-out phase. During this phase, the pilot maintains a positive rate of climb, gradually retracting the landing gear and adjusting the aircraft’s pitch and engine power to comply with the departure procedures and air traffic control instructions. The climb-out phase allows the aircraft to gain altitude and distance from the airport, ensuring a safe and efficient departure.


In aviation, the final approach and takeoff are crucial stages that require precision, skill, and adherence to strict procedures. The final approach involves aligning the aircraft with the runway and executing a smooth landing, while takeoff requires accelerating along the runway and achieving enough speed and lift for a safe departure. Both phases play an integral role in the overall flight operation, ensuring the safety and efficiency of air transportation.

For More: What is UART in Aviation? (Universal Asynchronous Receiver-Transmitter)