Weight and Balance Terminology – Maximum Weight

in Aircraft Weight and Balance

The maximum weight is the maximum authorized weight of the aircraft and its contents, and is indicated in the Aircraft Specifications or Type Certificate Data Sheet. For many aircraft, there are variations to the maximum allowable weight, depending on the purpose and conditions under which the aircraft is to be flown. For example, a certain aircraft may be allowed a maximum gross weight of 2,750 lb when flown in the normal category, but when flown in the utility category, which allows for limited aerobatics, the same aircraft’s maximum allowable gross weight might only be 2,175 lb. There are other variations when dealing with the concept of maximum weight, as follows:

  • Maximum Ramp Weight—the heaviest weight to which an aircraft can be loaded while it is sitting on the ground. This is sometimes referred to as the maximum taxi weight.
  • Maximum Takeoff Weight—the heaviest weight an aircraft can have when it starts the takeoff roll. The difference between this weight and the maximum ramp weight would equal the weight of the fuel that would be consumed prior to takeoff.
  • Maximum Landing Weight—the heaviest weight an aircraft can have when it lands. For large wide body commercial airplanes, it can be 100,000 lb less than maximum takeoff weight, or even more.
  • Maximum Zero Fuel Weight—the heaviest weight an aircraft can be loaded to without having any usable fuel in the fuel tanks. Any weight loaded above this value must be in the form of fuel.