An Airbus A320 departed with a wrong thrust setting during an intersection takeoff from Luton Airport, U.K. and became airborne with 180 m of runway remaining according to an AAIB report.
The aircraft was on a scheduled flight (U22029) from London Luton Airport to Montpellier Airport, France. The co-pilot was to be the pilot flying and commander the pilot monitoring.
Prior to pushback the commander calculated the takeoff performance figures for a departure from runway 08, assuming its full length was available and the use of flap 1, using his Electronic Flight Bag (EFB). These were crosschecked by the co-pilot and entered into the aircraft’s Flight Management Guidance Computer (FMGC).
When the aircraft reached Holding Point Bravo One there was an aircraft holding on the threshold of runway 08. This aircraft (a Monarch Airbus A320 G-ZBAP, bound for Rome as flight ZB3566) was advised by ATC that there was a problem obtaining its clearance from the next ATC sector. The commander of G-EZUH asked ATC if it would be appropriate to plan for a takeoff from Intersection Bravo One; they advised it was.
The commander then calculated the takeoff performance for runway 08 using flap 2 and the full length of runway 08. This was crosschecked by the co-pilot, with an emphasis on the change in configuration to flap 2. The new takeoff speeds and engine thrust setting were entered into the FMGC.
The takeoff proceeded normally but, as the aircraft approached V1, the commander noticed that the remaining runway was shorter than expected so he decided to commit to the takeoff without adjusting the engine thrust. The aircraft became airborne with approximately 180 m of runway remaining and passed over the runway end at a height of 117 ft (36 m). The pilots discussed the takeoff en route and re-calculated the takeoff performance, and realised that the engine thrust setting and takeoff speeds used were incorrect. The remainder of the flight was uneventful.
The commander later commented that he did attempt to change the runway selected to reflect a departure from Intersection Bravo. However it is likely that, when trying to select this, runway 08 remained selected due to the combination of his finger size and the calibration of the EFB’s touch screen. He also believed he was distracted from confirming the runway selection by the need to confirm the change in the flap setting with the co-pilot.
As a result of this and other recent incidents the operator will publish an article in the next edition of its Flight Safety Bulletin outlining their severity and the hazards of not crosschecking all performance calculations.
Also, the operator has added a briefing note on all of its Operational Flight Plans highlighting the importance of crosschecking takeoff performance calculations when changes are made as a result of intersection departures or other last-minute changes to aircraft configuration or takeoff distances.
- A320 G-EZUH AAIB report (PDF)