A common aviation practice intended to save time is putting planes and their passengers in jeopardy, according to the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB), which has issued a Safety Alert 071-17 about the hazard.

Intersection takeoffs – where a pilot uses only a portion of the runway instead of the entire length for takeoff – is common, but the NTSB says pilots may not fully understand the potential risks associated with conducting intersection takeoffs. The agency has investigated at least 10 accidents between 2000 and 2015 in which pilots were attempting intersection takeoffs.

“By reducing the amount of runway used during takeoff, pilots have less runway available to them in the event of a system or engine malfunction during takeoff, to abort the takeoff or to perform an emergency landing,” says the NTSB. “This increases the risk of injury, death and aircraft damage.”

The safety alert emphasizes the need for pilots to:

  • Know their airplane’s takeoff and landing performance limitations
  • Not feel obligated to accept an intersection takeoff if offered by air traffic control
  • Use all available runway length to increase the margin of safety

Safety Alert 071-17 ‘Do Your Takeoff Homework; Runway Length Matters’ is available online at https://go.usa.gov/xn2C2, and an NTSB video on the issue is available via the NTSB YouTube Channel at https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-UFY6ewJGZA&feature=youtu.be.