Wake Turbulence Avoidance Made Easy

Wake turbulence is a serious threat to aircraft of all sizes. One of the most common places to find wake turbulence is at busy airports, especially during big airline pushes. It is vital to avoid the swirling vortices behind that fat Airbus on short final and we’ve all be trained on the proper avoidance technique, but how do we implement it?

Recall that wake turbulence avoidance demands that we modify our flight path to remain above the offending heavy.

When Taking Off:
Rotate before the preceding airplane’s rotation point and climb above it’s flight path.

When Landing:
Always fly above the flight path and land beyond the touchdown point of the heavy bird.

But how do we do this in practice? It’s quite simple really.

On departure, use all available runway, perform a short field takeoff and climb out at Vx (best angle of climb).

For your landing, choose the 1000 foot marker or a quarter-range taxiway as the start of your runway and fly a steeper than normal approach. One dot high on the glideslope or PAPI ought to do it.

Use your best judgement and keep out of wake turbulence. Your airplane will thank you.

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About the author
Pat Flannigan is a professional pilot and aviation blogger. He has been flying for fifteen years and is currently working as an airline pilot in the United States.

3 Replies to Wake Turbulence Avoidance Made Easy

  1. Great post Pat!

    When you’re flying the CRJ how much does wake turbulence play into your takeoff or landing? Say behind a 707 or any sort of heavy metal? Just curious…


    • Wake turbulence isn’t a big concern in the CRJ most of the time. As always, it depends on what you’re following. That being said, I’ve had a few FedEx heavies rock my world in Memphis. One even set off my windshear warning on departure! By waiting two minutes before takeoff, we can usually dodge the worst of it.

  2. That’s neat! I always wondered how the heavier aircraft deal with wake turbulence!

    I appreciate your insight!


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