Real Answers from Real Pilots

Takeoff Emergencies

Just curious, have any of you experienced a critical emergency on takeoff? If so, how did you handle it?

Wyatt,

While I’ve had a few things go “ding” on takeoff, personally I’ve never suffered a critical emergency on the roll (or any other phase of flight for that matter. BUT, if/when I do, I’ll handle it the way I’ve been trained throughout my career. While every airplane is different all have low (<80-100kts) and high (>80-100kts) speed regimes on T/O and then V1 (the speed where an abort is no longer safe and you’re going flying). Again it can vary but generally you’ll abort for any abnormality in the low speed regime because it’s safe and easy to do. Once you enter the high speed regime things get a little more interesting. You’re no traveling at 80-100 or greater and stopping could mean damage to the aircraft or passengers so we’ll only abort for major malfunctions (engine fire or failure, flight control issues, etc). Once we reach V1 regardless of the emergency or abnormality you can longer safely abort and you’re going flying. While procedures again vary they generally involve the primary rules of flying. Aviate, Navigate and Communicate. Aviate: fly the plane, get the plane stabilized and keep it flying. Navigate: get headed in a safe direction. Communicate: talk to ATC, your co-pilot and anyone else who can help. This is what we train for and the emergency is often only as bad as you make it.

Adam

Adam,
This is good to hear! I’m glad to hear you have a plan for when things go wrong. Thank you for taking time to type all that out!

Wyatt, throughout your career you will train for various scenarios, most of which will hopefully never happen. I’ve dealt with one engine failure in flight and one emergency that resulted in a aborted takeoff. Both instances were a bit outside the training parameters (different than exactly what you trained for) but were handled perfectly because of pilot standardization. By that I mean that the pilots train very hard using the exact same standards so when things fail we respond in a very calculated way, with very precise verbiage so there is no confusion.

My only failure on the ground was that everything electronic (avionics, radios, navigation, lights) started blinking on and off with a very loud “plink, plunk” noise associated with the on and off. We were just above 80kts but the Captain decided that stopping on the very large runway was a better idea than taking it into the air. We couldn’t talk with each other, the tower (this was in PHX), or the passengers due to the on/off switching. There’s no checklist for this. Switching to battery power from the generators shed many systems, including the fault, and the Captain was able to speak with Tower because COMM 1 still works on Battery alone. We taxied in on battery power without further indecent.

Point is, you will train for many many things that can go wrong. But the cool thing is that even when things happen outside the training you’ve received, it usually plays out really clean because of a very standard way of communicating with one another and how checklist are performed.

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Zac,
Sorry for such a long wait for me to reply! Lit what’s been kinda busy lately. I appreciate your thorough response. Those sound like scary situations, and I’m glad everything was Alright. Glad to hear that pilots receive such great training.