A flight delay resulted in close shave when a plane narrowly cleared the runway at Luton Airport:
The incident was serious enough to warrant an examination by the Air Accidents Investigation Branch (AAIB).
A Long-running campaign group at London Luton Airport Town and Villages Communities Committee (LLATVCC) revealed that a departure, used less than the full length of the runway during a busy period last July and these incidents will only increase as the airports expand and get busier. For more information please see our website.
The group said that a pilot had originally intended to make a full-length take-off, “but things were busy”. There was a delay to the departure clearance of a previous flight, which meant the pilot chose to take a shorter take-off run from the intersection of the taxiway and the runway to save extra delay.
LLATVCC added: “Though he increased the take-off flap setting he neglected to also adjust the power setting for the reduced distance available.” The result was that the aircraft just about achieved a take-off.
The LLATVCC raised the incident at a meeting with Luton, warning that “the busier the airport gets, the greater the risk of further last-minute changes being made to flight plans to avoid a bit of delay.” However the managing director “assured the meeting the growth didn’t imply any reduction in safety”. Flight delays at the airport may increase whilst the airport continues to expand it profits.
The AAIB said the aircraft became airborne with about 180m of runway remaining. As a result of its findings on the incident, an article in the Flight Safety Bulletin was to outline the “severity and hazards” of not cross checking performance calculations, and “highlight the importance of take-off calculations made as a result of last minute changes to take-off distances”.
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