Have you ever wondered why the cabin crew takes some exceptional procedures during the takeoff? I’m sure you did and tried to understand the real reason. And the reason is that according to studies of the Boeing Corporation, take-off is one of the critical parts of the flight. Ok, here I don’t want to scare the nervous fliers even more, but understanding about how airplanes work and what we mean by saying critical phase of the flight can help you to overcome the aerophobia and make your flight even more enjoyable. So let’s get more in-depth on this topic and find a reasonable explanation.
Why is take-off more critical than any phases of a flight?
The fact is that during takeoff, pilots have much less time to solve a problem than during the cruising phase. When the aircraft is at an altitude of 11,000 meters, the pilot has enough time and space to take action. Say, even if both engines fail, the aircraft will be able to approach and land. Typically, in such a situation, the pilot will have a little more than eight minutes to find a suitable airport to land. But if something went wrong at a low altitude, the amount of time to make a decision is significantly reduced.
Now, you may be asking yourself, then what mostly happens during this phase that may cause problems for the flight? Well, there are some scenarios that will make the flight a troubled one. But before we start examining those, I have to mention that you are unlikely to be engaged in any of these situations during any of your flights. Besides, you have to be sure that pilots have very good training to solve these problems with minimum harm to you. Now, let’s start looking into these troublemakers.
- Engine Failure – During this phase, the engines operate in a special mode to accelerate the aircraft to the desired speed and take off from the ground. It is at this time that there is the highest probability of failure of the engine, and there is a certain speed called V1, after which it is no longer possible to slow down and reject the takeoff. So if we have one engine failure scenario, then we have to take off with one engine, which means that we have only 50% airplane power, and the performance of the climb is much less. In this situation, we can’t fly at high altitudes, so the flight is maintained at a so-called safe altitude, which is the minimum altitude around the airport. In case the engine failure happens at 30.000 or 40.000 feet, the crew has more time to take action. But if we are talking about rejecting the takeoff, we have to know that it is more dangerous because, at that speed, the tires are overheated, which itself can cause a fire as the aircraft is full of fuel or it can lead to landing gear damage.
- Weather – Ok, let’s discuss another scenario that is the severe weather during the takeoff. Heavy rain, snowstorms, hail, thunderstorms, wind can be dangerous for takeoff. But if the rain, the snow, the storm is somehow understandable, then most of you are probably wondering about the wind and how it may affect the flight. Well, the aerodynamic features of airplanes are directly related to the wind. Simply said, when the aircraft has a headwind, the performance of takeoff increases, but if the wind changes to a tailwind, the performance decreases, which means a sudden loss of airspeed and climb rate reduction. Any active thunderstorm around the airport will cause wind direction changes (wind shear), which, as we already understood, can be a threat to an airplane.
These were some dangers that can cause problems for the flight. Now when you already know why this phase can be so-called critical or dangerous, every time you board an airplane, you should follow all onboard regulations to avoid possible consequences strictly. These regulations are designed to ensure your SAFETY. But we also have to remember the airplanes are the safest means of traveling, so keep your seat belt fastened, and enjoy your flight.
Until next time, and as always, “We Speak Aviation.”