FAA Safety Alert Focuses on Takeoff Excursions

Though rarer than landing accidents, the agency says the number of takeoff excursions is “unacceptably high.”

Landing excursions outnumber takeoff excursions by a four-to-one margin.
Landing excursions outnumber takeoff excursions by a four-to-one margin.Wikipedia Commons

Although landing excursions outnumber takeoff excursions by a margin of four-to-one, the FAA believes not enough attention is being paid by pilots to the dangers of the latter type of incident.

Aiming to change that, the agency issued a Safety Alert for Operators (SAFO) that encourages the use of standard operating procedures to ensure accurate takeoff performance data is used to reduce the risk of runway excursions during takeoff.

That makes proper takeoff planning, including accurate weight and balance calculations, well prior to departure a must. The process should involve communication and coordination among pilots and, for professional crews, load planners, ground operations, dispatch and customer service personnel.

The FAA thinks technology can help reduce takeoff excursions, such as by using “software flags” in flight planning apps. These flags could alert all air carrier personnel involved in the dispatch of aircraft, for example, to a possible error in data entry.

The SAFO is a good reminder to single pilots flying for business or pleasure that it is never acceptable to skip weight and balance and takeoff performance calculations during flight planning.