Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Not-so-funny typo blamed for jet's botched take-off

As reported by Andrew Heasley in The Sunday Age, a pilot's typing mistake on a computer was central to a botched take-off that saw a plane scrape along the tarmac, smashing runway lights and navigation equipment.

The Emirates Airbus A340, which was bound for Dubai with 257 passengers and 18 crew, struggled to make it into the air on the evening of March 20, 2009.

No one was injured, but the jet's tail assembly was extensively damaged.


During pre-flight calculations, the co-pilot entered a wrong number in a laptop: 262.9 tonnes for the aircraft's weight, instead of the correct weight of 362.9 tonnes.

That incorrect figure was, in turn, used to program engine thrust settings and flap positions for take-off which meant that the engines were programmed for only enough thrust for a much lighter aircraft and the flaps weren't set correctly.

The result was that as the Airbus gathered speed down the runway, it was not moving nearly fast enough to generate enough lift under the wings.

The plane scraped its tail along the end of the tarmac, then along the grass past the end of the runway, before clobbering runway lights and navigation antennae and finally lurching into the air.

And you thought everything was done automatically.

Me two three too.

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