December 2008 Issue

Takeoff Aborts

The properly prepared takeoff is spring-loaded to turn into an abort. Here’s how to decide when to call the whole thing off.

Takeoff and initial climb accidents are 10 times more deadly than landing accidents, according to the AOPA Air Safety Foundation (ASF) presentation "Mastering Takeoffs and Landings." And, when you think about it, the ASF’s numbers make sense. After all, during a takeoff, the airplane is as heavy as it will be for that flight, you’re accelerating, not slowing as when landing, and you aren’t accustomed to the wind or the airplane’s loading, among other factors. If in fact takeoffs are so potentially fatal, it’s worthwhile to discover how to detect when a takeoff or "first-stage" climbout is going bad and, if needed, how to safely abort it before joining the NTSB tally. What clues do we have to a takeoff anomaly, and how can we safely abort a takeoff when things aren’t going right? I’m in favor of letting the student do everything possible on the first lesson, but the relative ease at which we launch into the air—at least compared to what it takes to learn to land—might make us complacent about critically observing our takeoffs. After all, when turned into the wind and the power’s brought up, we’re thinking about the flight ahead, or perhaps focused on an initial heading or altitude restriction. It takes a lot of discipline to be thinking about the takeoff itself.

To continue reading this entire article you must be a paid subscriber.

Subscribe to Aviation Safety

The monthly journal of risk management and accident prevention, is packed with useful, timely information on basic and advanced technique, accident analysis and, most important, practical articles on how you can develop the judgment that will keep you in the air and out of the NTSB's files.

Already subscribe but haven't registered for all the benefits of the website? Click here.

Subscriber Log In

Forgot your password? Click Here.