There are many different definitions of ‘flight time’ in the aviation world, but the most common agreed upon definition is that flight time commences the moment that an aircraft moves under its own power for the purpose of flight and ends when the aircraft comes to rest after landing. This can equate to the actual air time plus an average of 6 minutes prior to take-off and 6 minutes after landing.
Flight time is also known as ‘block time’ which is the period from the moment the chocks are withdrawn and brakes released, to the return to rest or application of chocks after the flight. For billing purposes on air carriers, flight time or block time only applies from the moment of lift-off to the moment of touch-down. This means that the passengers are usually charged for only that portion of the trip that the aircraft spent in the air.
Flight time is used for a variety of calculations in aviation and can affect both pilots and passengers. Flight time is used to calculate the cost of passenger tickets, the estimated time of arrival and departures and more. In addition, flight time can directly affect pilots as it is normally the basis for determining pilot pay, and the duty time of pilots. For example, a pilot will generally only be getting paid an hourly rate from the time the aircraft brakes are released to the time they are applied at the gate/parking spot. If the pilot does any work before or after these times he/she will not be getting paid for that work.