Thursday, 2 August 2012

Virgin America Flight Slams on Brakes

Did you see this incident a couple of days ago?

It is interesting how much coverage anything aviation related gets in the news.  The pilots decided to stop the aircraft during the take off roll.  According to the news, there was an indication in the flight deck of a fault. This will be investigated as all aviation related incidents are.

In the meantime, it is worth mentioning something called V1.  We talk about this on our courses as a lot of the flying and non-flying public don't know about it.

In plane speak it is this.  It is a  certain speed that the aircraft is travelling at that has already been worked out by the pilots and flight computers. At this point on the runway, the pilots can either continue to take off or stop the aircraft.  It is a decision point that is important.  All the way up to V1, the pilots can stop the aircraft on the runway if there is a problem - they have already calculated that there is enough runway left to brake and stop.  At V1, the pilots can still stop or go.  They make that decision at this point. 

Why would they stop?

The idea of V1 is to always to be safety first.  If an engine suddenly failed during the take off roll and right up to V1, they can stop it.  If an engine failed from V1 onwards, it does not matter as they have enough power and speed to carry and take off safely into the air.

We don't know what the indication in the flight deck was for this Virgin America flight. We do know that it was sometime before V1 as the pilots chose to stop. If it had been past V1, they would have carried on, dumped some fuel (if possible) and then landed again. 

This idea of V1 is practised all the time in the simulators and it is part of every flight.  Can you imagine being tested on your driving twice a year for a day or more?  You would be retested and tested on every imaginable scenario going and then you would have to pass every time!

Did you know...

If all the aircraft were the same weight, same type, same weather conditions, same everything you could just draw a line on the runway and write V1 on it.  The concept of V1 has to be calculated for every take off to make sure ALL the factors are taken into consideration. 

As always, safety first.

Take care
Paul & Richard
Virgin Atlantic Flying Without Fear

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