When it comes to a noun, I learned 'landing' is an opposite vocabulary to 'take-off' in an airplane context.

But what about the verbs?

Do you say 'A plane is touching down' or 'A plane is landing' in US/UK?

I'm not sure.

  • 1
    The act of landing includes touching down as one of its components. (It also includes descending and braking, for instance.) The opposite of taking off depends on your intended meaning. In other words, what exact aspect of taking off you're trying to negate: the moment when the wheels leave the ground or everything involved in the entire take-off procedure (accelerating, leaving the ground, putting the wheels up, etc.). – Jason Bassford Aug 5 '19 at 4:58
  • I assumed the general context where the airplane crew mention "A plane is [ ex). landing] in 10 mins. Please do not leave your seat." – Jin Aug 5 '19 at 5:26

Strictly speaking, the "touch down" is when the plane's wheels touch the ground, and (as Jason Bassford says) is only one part of the overall "landing". However, in practice, these are synonymous and you can use either one in everyday speech:

I should get to the airport. My wife's plane is touching down/landing in thirty minutes and she wants me to pick her up.

In some cases, "touch down" can sound slightly more dramatic. Note that it is typically used with spacecraft as well as aircraft:

Engineers at NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, California, which leads the mission, are preparing for the spacecraft to enter the Martian atmosphere, descend with a parachute and retrorockets, and touch down tomorrow at around noon PST.

  • Could also use 'A plane is coming in to land' – Smock Aug 5 '19 at 8:40
  • @Smock That described the approach though, the period of time before the plane actually touches ground. When I'm flying I always feel that the actual "landing" part is uncertain until the plane comes to a controlled taxi -- which is to say, it's unsure whether observers would say "the plane landed" or "the plane crashed" – Andrew Aug 5 '19 at 16:28
  • I feel coming in to land describes everything up to the point it has landed, and so includes the landing itself, but that's just my opinion. (Landed here meaning the point where it's taxiing to the terminal). I guess you could split it into Approach -> Landing -> Landed/Taxiing. In any case, it's just semantics, I'm not arguing with your answer - I've voted it up as correct in fact – Smock Aug 5 '19 at 16:40

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