a plane is departing/taking off/flying away

Discussion in 'English Only' started by wolfbm1, Apr 4, 2013.

  1. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Hello.
    There is a picture of an airport lounge. It shows people doing different things. Behind the large window, in the far background, a plane is taking off and it is already in the air.
    I wonder how I can describe the action of the plane.

    1. The plane is departing from the airport.
    2. The plane is taking off from the airport.
    3. The plane is flying away from the airport.

    I think I can say #2 and #3. What about #1? Isn't departing connected with a timetable only?
     
  2. cyberpedant

    cyberpedant Senior Member

    North Adams, MA
    English USA, Northeast, NYC
    I think "taking off" is best. We don't normally include "from the airport," but it's not ungrammatical.
     
  3. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I think that you probably could use 'departing', though 'taking off' is more accurate a description. As for (3), I think the aircraft is too close to the tarmac for a felicitous use of 'flying away' - I'd give a few more minutes, before using that. (Cross-posted)
     
  4. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Actually this is a picture of an airport lounge, so "from the airport" is not necessary.
     
  5. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Actually, this picture resembles the original better. I guess I could use sentence #3 now.
    It is good to know that I could also use sentence #1.
     
  6. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I can't access your latest picture (post#5) . Do you have another?
     
  7. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Yes. Here. There are two aircraft. I think the one in the top right corner is the most suitable for sentence #3.
     
  8. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    I agree. If you can make the plane disappear behind (say) a Dollar bill, held in your hand with your arm outstretched, then it's safe to say the plane is flying away (provided it's leaving).
     
  9. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    This is another case of a conflict between imprecise general English, such as Beryl uses, and the technical language used by those intimately involved in something.

    Strictly speaking, a passenger flight consists of five stages (not counting taxiing on the airport), i.e. takeoff, departure, en-route, approach and landing.

    The takeoff phase is completed when the wheels leave the ground. The departure phase is whatever the pilot does until a course to the destination is established. The en-route phase is what the aircraft does between airports until entering he approach phase, i.e. the particular pattern or route followed in prepartion for a landing on the designated runway. The landing occurs when the wheels touch the ground. (Aerophiles never, ever, use the accursed "coming in for a landing," which is a Hollywood anachronism, rather than part of the aviation lexicon.)

    Now that I've done my nit-picking :rolleyes:, Beryl's advice above is fine for the general public.
     
  10. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you, Beryl. :)
     
  11. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you, sdgraham, for the interesting insight. :)
    I conclude that once a plane leaves the ground it is, technically speaking, departing.
     
  12. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    I have read this thread and I am curious of what sdgraham said about passengers' flights. Did I get a correct input if I say that 'take-offs', 'en-routes' are related more to aircrafts than to people (passengers, pilots, etc.) whereas 'departures' are related more to people than to aircrafts? Or it is not a valid understanding?
    Thank you,
     
  13. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    It's not that simple. All of these words exist in various contexts, including aircraft and people.

    Note, however, that human beings cannot "take off" in the sense of leaving the ground and staying aloft without being attached to some sort of contraption.

    Trains, buses, people, ships and just about anything that moves can depart from a place.

    And so on ...
     
  14. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Actually I am interested in the use of the past continues and I typed "plane was departing" in the search box. I found a couple of interesting sentences:

    "Southwest Airlines officials say the pilot of a Las Vegas-bound flight aborted takeoff from the Denver airport after a warning light indicated a fire onboard, causing three tires to blow out as the plane stopped abruptly. ...
    The plane was departing Denver International Airport with 137 passengers and five crew members."
    Source: Southwest Airlines flight aborts takeoff, blows tires, by Ben Mutzabaug.

    Here the word "depart" was used without a preposition and was followed by the word "airport." Also the word "pilot" occurs together with the word "takeoff."

    It is also worth mentioning that the word "depart" can be followed by the preposition "for":

    "Sources on board AA flight 2421 tell us the plane was departing from Dallas when something went wrong with an engine shortly after pulling away from the gate. According to fire officials at DFW ... the cockpit filled with smoke, and the pilots quickly returned to the terminal."
    Source: ASHLEY OLSEN Smoke-Filled Cockpit Grounds Flight at DFW, by TMZ staff.

    And it can be followed by the preposition "for":

    "This picture was taken a few split seconds after the Boeing 747's nose wheel lifted off the ground as the airplane was departing for London's Heathrow Airport."
    Source: View Geocache Log, by rohrerboy.
     
  15. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    What's your question, wolfbm1?
     
  16. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    I just wanted to share what I found how the phrase "was departing" is used.
    Also, what is interesting, a pilot could be taking off, in a way. :confused:
     
  17. Johnstar New Member

    English
    The plane is taking off is the proper way of handling the language. Though other phrases also kind of expresses what is said but not proper way to express it.
     
  18. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    Unless one wishes to follow the technical definitions of the international aviation community.

    In other words, be careful of unilaterally declaring what is "proper."
     
  19. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    There's nothng remarkable in English about "take off" to mean "performing the takeoff maneuver in an aircraft."

    Nor, for that matter, is there anything remarkable about "landing" an aircraft.
     
  20. Packard

    Packard Senior Member

    USA, English
    If you are describing flight, then "taking off" is probably preferred. But if you are describing the act of travelling, the "leaving" would be fine.

    This lyric from a John Denver song makes that very point:

    ...So kiss me and smile for me/Tell me that you'll wait for me/Hold me like you'll never let me go/Cause I'm leavin' on a jet plane/ << 4 lines only :rolleyes: >>
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
  21. irinet

    irinet Senior Member

    Bucharest
    Romanian
    Thank you, sdgraham for answering my question.
     
  22. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Since you used the word 'leaving" I guess that the following sentences have a similar meaning:

    1. Yesterday at 12.00 midday, a plane was leaving the airport.

    2. Yesterday at 12.00 midday, a plane was departing the airport.

    Is #1 more casual?

    And in #2 the word "depart" doesn't convey the meaning that the plane was already aloft when it was ascending, does it?
     
    Last edited: Apr 8, 2013
  23. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Personally, I'd say (1), and a slight variant on (2), but I'd never use (2).

    On hearing either (1 or 2), I'd immediately understand them to mean the same thing.


    >Is #1 more casual?

    Possibly ... probably: 'to depart' is, at a guess, less frequently used than 'to leave'; but if the discourse is restricted to modes of transportation, then who's to say?

    Every UK airport has, and many railway stations seem to have a board marked departures/arrivals. Station and train announcements (these days :rolleyes:) seem to favour 'the train departing from platform three ... ' (though, I feel it only proper to point out that such announcements are infamously unfriendly to the English language, at least here in the UK).

    It could be that, because of the 'departures boards' in airports, many feel more comfortable describing aircraft as 'departing' and 'arriving' - I don't ... particularly. :)


    The slight variant on (2) that I was alluding to earlier was (2') Yesterday at 12.00 midday, a plane was departing from the airport.
     
  24. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    Thank you, Beryl. I've got you.
    So "was leaving" is your favourite and "was departing from" is OK.
    And if I wanted to specify that the plane was in its ascending or climbing stage I just need to say so.
     
  25. Beryl from Northallerton Moderator

    British English
    Yes, but, but, but ... I think many would also say 'was departing the airport' - it's just sounds wrong to me.
     
  26. sdgraham

    sdgraham Senior Member

    Oregon, USA
    USA English
    If you Google "departing runway," you will see a huge number of entries, nearly all made by aviation-oriented people, however.
     
  27. wolfbm1 Senior Member

    Poland
    Polish
    That's interesting. I'm going to check that out.
    Actually I have found an interesting take-off video of a US Airways Airbus A320 departing from a runway somewhere in California.
     

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