Table of Contents
Improving your take-off #
Take-offs are one of the most critical and challenging aspects of flying. A bad take-off can result in an accident, while a good take-off can get you safely airborne and on your way to your destination. My FS Flights can help you improve your take-offs by providing detailed data and analysis of your flights. With this information, you can see where you can make improvements and practice your take-offs until you have them perfected. My FS Flights can also provide tips and advice from experienced pilots to help you make the most of your take-off experiences. So whether you’re a beginner or a professional pilot, My FS Flights can help you improve your take-offs and make flying more enjoyable.
Pre-flight checklists and procedures #
These are critical to aviation safety. Unfortunately, some pilots do not follow these procedures correctly or consistently. A prominent National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) study found that 42% of take-offs were performed without a proper pre-flight check. This can lead to dangerous situations and accidents.
Before pre-flight procedures, there are some briefings or data to be gathered about flight preparation. Here are a few of the data needed;
- Weather forecasts ensure the pilot is prepared for the weather present within the aerodrome and any weather en route to the destination. Some weather data are provided by ATIS (Automatic Terminal Information Service)
- Aerodrome alternates - these are aerodromes that are set in case the arrival aerodrome becomes unavailable. There are three types of alternate aerodromes.
- Take-off alternate - this is an aerodrome that would be the nearest aerodrome to the departure aerodrome should the aircraft need to land after take-off, and the departure aerodrome is not available to be the take-off alternate.
- En-route alternate - an aerodrome that should be available if a diversion is necessary while the aircraft is en route to the arrival aerodrome.
- Destination alternate - this is the nearest available aerodrome if the arrival aerodrome becomes unavailable.
- Aircraft condition - Fuel, weight and balance, and other stated conditions are presented mainly by mechanics to give an insight into the current situation of the aircraft before the 360 Check.
- Pre-flight briefing - this is usually done by the pilot and co-pilot in a General Aviation setup. The things that are discussed here are about the flight. Aerodrome layouts, departure briefings, aerodrome data, and NOTAMS (Notices to airmen) are information or updates regarding sudden changes in an aerodrome. A good pre-flight briefing is needed, especially in an IFR flight (Instrument Flight Rules). IFR flights are practised in General Aviation, so when pilots choose to transition to the Airline Industry, it would be easier to follow the charts of aerodromes since they know flying IFR.
- Unique risks - there are always risks when flying. A pilot should be aware of the dangers; there are different risks when flying over land and water. A pilot should be prepared if the aircraft is needed to be landed in an emergency.
Once a pilot is done with the pre-flight data gathering and briefing, the pilots commence the 360 checklists, which are done by following a list that visually checks the condition of the aircraft. If the aircraft is deemed airworthy by the pilots, it is when the pilots can board the aircraft. If a pilot finds something wrong with the aircraft, it is when the pilot will log it in the AMTL (Aircraft Maintenance Technicians Logbook)
How to start and taxi a general aviation aircraft #
Before starting the engine of a general aviation aircraft, it is crucial to perform a few critical checks. First, check that the area around the aircraft is clear and that there are no people or animals in the way. Then, check the control surfaces to make sure they are not obstructed. Before starting an engine, always ensure a safety marshal with a fire extinguisher within reach or in hand.
Once these checks are complete, you can start the engine. After the engine starts, you can check your flight controls and radios on board to ensure that there wouldn’t be a problem during the flight.
Taxiing an aircraft is relatively simple, but there are a few things to remember. First, keep your head up and look ahead to where you are going. Second, use the brakes carefully to avoid skidding or losing control. The pilots must commence a brake check before the take-off starts. Always follow the taxiway markings and instructions from the tower. Always request permission from the tower if you will change your intention.
After your brake check, position your aircraft against the wind to commence an engine run, also called a run-up. Before initiating a run-up, be mindful of your surroundings because the pilot will apply full throttle.
Engine run-ups are needed to ensure that your engine won’t quit at full power or idle setting. The engine is put at full throttle for a few seconds and then set to the lowest power setting for a few seconds. Part of the engine run-up is called magneto check, and this is done by moving the magneto from both to the left, then to the right, and then bringing it back to both. The RPM in this test should not drop below the manufacturer’s standard. If the RPM drops, then there is a problem with the spark plugs.
A faulty sparkplug will deem the aircraft as not airworthy because it is a safety hazard that could lead to an incident or, worse, an accident.
Taxiing in windy conditions #
Taxiing in windy conditions can be challenging, but it is essential to maintain control of the aircraft at all times:
- Keep your head up and look ahead to where you are going.
- Use the brakes carefully to avoid skidding or losing control.
- Always follow the taxiway markings and instructions from the tower.
- Be aware of other aircraft in the area and give them plenty of room to avoid collisions.
These are some tips for positioning your flight controls during taxiing in windy conditions.
- Quartering headwinds to the left - put your ailerons to the left or the wind and keep your elevator in a neutral position.
- Quartering headwinds to the right- put your ailerons to the right or the wind and keep your elevator in a neutral position.
- Quartering tailwinds to the left - put your ailerons to the right or against the wind and keep your elevator down.
- Quartering tailwinds to the right- put your ailerons to the left or against the wind and keep your elevator down.
In summary, if the wind is a headwind, face the ailerons against the wind with the elevator in a neutral position. In contrast, if the wind is a tailwind, always face your aileron opposite the wind while the elevator is in a down position always.
How runway lengths and surfaces may affect your take-off #
The length of the runway and the surface type can have a significant impact on your take-off. A shorter runway will require you to take off at a lower speed, while a longer runway will allow you to take off at a higher speed. A concrete runway is the best surface for take-off, while an asphalt runway is the second best. Grass or dirt runways are the least ideal, as they can cause the aircraft to lose traction and skid.
What to do in an aborted take-off #
There are instances when a pilot may experience an emergency during a take-off. These are three common situations on how to recover from an aborted take-off.
- During ground roll - this is the most straightforward recovery from an aborted take-off, the procedure for this one is engine idle and fuel cut-off, apply brakes until the aircraft comes to a complete stop.
- Immediately after take-off, the pilots must try to maintain a speed above stalling and land the aircraft right away. Having enough runway left to land the aircraft safely is always good.
- Above 300 feet - if the aircraft reaches above 300 feet from the airport elevation, things can get tricky because there are many options for landing. The pilot must always maintain a speed above stalling and choose a good landing spot. The pilot could turn back to the runway, but landing in a tailwind setting is unsuitable for an emergency landing. (Note: 300 feet above ground level is the altitude for a C172. Different aircraft have different minimums regarding this one.)
Runway Surface conditions #
These reduce an aircraft’s take-off performance which can increase the take-off roll and reduces the aircraft’s braking power if the pilot must abort the take-off. A pilot must always take note of any runway surface conditions, not only the runway length should be accounted. Here are some common surface conditions that could affect a take-off.
If water is present on the runway, there is a chance that the aircraft will enter hydroplaning. It causes the moving wheel of an aircraft to lose contact and grip with the surface on which it is rolling, resulting in braking power on the wheel not effectively reducing the aircraft’s ground speed.
Snow, Ice, and Slush #
These are present if the temperature on the runway falls below freezing. These factors also lessen the grip and braking power of an aircraft.
Tire residue #
Tires are constantly subjected to extreme stress every take-off and landing. The tire marks left on the runway could build up and affect the aircraft’s performance.
Taking off in a crosswind #
When taking off in a crosswind, keeping the aeroplane aligned with the runway is crucial. A Pilot can compensate for wind correction by using the rudder to keep the nose of the aeroplane pointed straight down the runway. The ailerons should also maintain a straight and level profile.
During a strong crosswind, the correction, when taking off, upon lift-off, face the aircraft’s nose towards the wind with the help of rudders for corrections to avoid drift away from the runway.
Flaps increase your wing area. If there is enough runway to perform a flapless take-off, it is advisable to do if the crosswind is strong. Decreasing your wing area lessens the crosswind penalty on take-offs and increases your take-off roll due to the reduced wing area.
Always take note of your aircraft limit. Different aircraft have different crosswind limits. For example, a Cessna 172 has a maximum direct crosswind take-off limit of 15knots. Anything above 15 knots crosswind pilots should cancel a Cessna 172 take-off for the safety of both the souls onboard and the aircraft.
Runway alignment and lift-off considerations #
It is crucial to align the aeroplane with the runway before taking off. Pilots can do this by using the rudder to keep the nose of the aeroplane pointed straight down the runway.
It is essential to take note of the following speeds to have a safe take-off routine.
- V1 - speed above this means the pilot should not abort the take-off. If there is a problem before reaching V1, the pilot can still stop the aircraft on the runway without lifting off.
- VR - is the rotation speed. This speed is the safe speed for the aircraft to be airborne. This speed indicates that the pilot can pull the aircraft’s nose slightly to lift off.
- V2 - is used for multi-engine aircraft, also known as “take-off safety speed”, in which the aircraft can still safely fly with only one engine.
However, there are some lift-off considerations in some cases. When an aircraft is at the manufacturer’s weight limit when taking off, the speed should be higher for safety reasons. Another factor to note is the wind discussed earlier in this article.
Initial climb, maintaining speed and heading, #
Upon reaching a specific height, Pilots must commence a checklist. It is called an “After take-off checklist” when pilots radio in the tower. Their intention after airborne is also when pilots retract flaps and landing gears.
Heading correction is always needed, especially if a crosswind is present. The earlier you correct your course or heading, the better to avoid veering off course.
Good flight planning would prepare you for your flight course, and pilots must be ready for the headings and turns.
After take-off checks #
After establishing a good climb speed and heading, a few checks are needed for the flight. Aside from the checklist, the pilot must always be mindful of the airspeed, heading, engine instruments, and altitude.
Upon reaching the desired altitude, a “Cruise checklist” is initiated in which pilots set the aircraft for cruise setting. Some things that are adjusted for the cruise are lights, power settings, mixture, and trim tabs.
Mixtures are adjusted depending on the altitude of your cruise. When flying above 3000ft ASL (Above sea level), this is when you change your mixture to the right setting to avoid damaging your spark plugs.
How to use the data and analysis from My FS Flights to review and improve your take-offs #
MY FS Flights is committed to improving safety by providing pilots with easy-to-use data and accurately presenting the aircraft’s profile. We have also developed a unique take-off report that allows pilots to safely and consistently practice take-off from any runway. Our application is simple and easy to use, and it has been effective for data analysis and improvement of the pilot’s take-off skills. A sample of a take-off profile based on height is shown in the photo below. But My FS Flights Does not only offer a height profile in the take-off report. It provides a lot more data regarding your take-off profile.
Tips and advice from experienced pilots on improving flight simulator take-off experiences. #
Flight simulators are very up-to-date regarding the aircraft’s reaction when you apply movements to the flight controls. Regardless of using a controller or your keyboard for your simulator, always compensate for wind if it is present.
Even in a simulator setup, always follow checklists as good practice for an actual flight. It is an excellent habit always to check the appropriate checklist.
Try to practice scanning for traffic. A good practice is entering an intersection on taxiways before entering the active runway and when entering a taxiway.
Practising those things in a simulator may be tedious and useless since there is no traffic, mainly in the aerodrome, but by doing this at all times, this becomes second nature which is needed in the actual flight.
My FS Flights is a flight analysis tool that provides detailed feedback on all aspects of your flight, including take-offs. It can help you identify areas where you need to improve and then offers specific advice on how to do so.
The data and analysis from My FS Flights can be used to improve your take-offs in several ways:
- It can help you identify any problems with your technique.
- It can help you understand how to correct those problems.
- It can provide tips and advice from experienced pilots on making the most of your take-off experiences.
- It points out parts of the checklists you’ve missed during the flight. For example, you forgot to turn on your taxi lights.