November 2010 Issue

Playing Defense On Takeoff

Takeoff accidents are rare, but result from predictable causes. Preparation and following the checklist are key to avoiding them.

A recent spate of high-profile runway excursions involving airline operations got me thinking: Runway overruns are not a topic on which the average GA pilot receives much comprehensive instruction during flight training. The pros have operational policies providing the parameters and protocols by which takeoffs and landings must be done each and every time. But for the rest of us not flying the big iron in conformity to op specs, there’s no similar, systematic defense strategy utilized against running into the ditch. In fact, the varied nature of GA flying itself—sporadic flights, from local VFR practice to an IFR cross-country—actually presents a greater challenge than that done by the pros flying the same bus route day in and day out.

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