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Normal Takeoff and Climb

Introduction:

  • Normal takeoffs are the most basic of all takeoff maneuvers [Figure 1]
  • Simply stated, the purpose of this maneuver is to safely execute a takeoff under normal conditions (i.e., hard surface, minimal wind, plenty of available takeoff distance)
  • Normal takeoffs are closely related to the performance of flight at minimum controllable airspeeds
Normal Takeoff
Airplane Flying Handbook, Normal takeoff

Normal Takeoff and Climb Procedure:

WARNING:
All procedures here are GENERALIZED for learning.
Fly the maneuver in accordance with the Pilot Operating Handbook (POH)
and/or current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs)


  1. Complete the Before Takeoff Flows/Checklists
  2. Check Automatic Terminal Information Service (ATIS), wind direction indicators, as available, and listen to the wind call given by ATC when issuing the takeoff clearances
  3. Call for takeoff:
  4. Check the approach path is clear and then taxi into takeoff position
  5. Firmly depress the brake pedals to ensure to apply enough pressure to hold the airplane in position during full power run-up
  6. Smoothly and continuously apply full throttle, checking engine instruments (tachometer (RPM), Manifold Pressure, as appropriate) are within their "green" operating range and call-out over the Intercommunication System (ICS)
    • ICS: "Engine instruments in the green"
  7. Release the brakes and maintain directional control and runway centerline with the rudder pedals
    • Lower your feet to the floor ensuring toes are on rudders ONLY, and not the brakes
  8. As you start to roll, monitor your airspeed and engine instruments
    • ICS: "Airspeed Alive, Engine Instruments in the Green"
    • Keep in right rudder and some left aileron to counteract p-factor crosswind effect as required
    • As you accelerate, the aircraft must be flown and not taxied, requiring smaller inputs
  9. At rotation speed (Vr), call out, "Vr, Rotate" and increase control yoke back pressure to pitch up
    • Vr is as recommended for takeoff weight
    • Smoothly pitch up or the aircraft may delay a climb
    • Forcing the aircraft off the ground may leave it stuck in ground effect or stall [Figure 2]
    • During gust conditions, the pilot should remain on the deck a little longer
  10. After liftoff, establish and maintain best climb rate (Vy) , while maintaining the flight path over the runway centerline
    • Trim as necessary
    • Use of the rudders to remain coordinated may be required to keep the airplane headed straight down the runway, avoiding P-factor
  11. With a positive rate of climb, depress the brake pedals, call out, "Positive Climb"
    • Rate of climb can be determined by an increase in altitude and positive VSI
  12. With no runway remaining, raise the landing gear, if appropriate
    • Callout: "gear up"
    • If remaining in the traffic pattern, leave the landing gear down so as not to forget to lower them later
  13. During the climb out (no less than 200' AGL), lower nose momentarily to ensure that the airspace ahead is clear, and then re-establish Vy, while maintaining flight path over extended runway centerline
    • Trim as necessary
  14. At 500' AGL, lower the pitch (approx. 2-3°) to establish and maintain a cruise climb or Vy as appropriate
  15. Set cruise power
    • Trim as necessary
  16. Execute a departure procedure or remain in the traffic pattern, as appropriate
    • If remaining in the traffic pattern, leave the auxiliary fuel pump switch in the ON position
  17. Complete the climb flow/checklist, when appropriate
Normal Takeoff
Airplane Flying Handbook, Normal takeoff
Effect of premature lift-off
Airplane Flying Handbook, Effect of premature lift-off

Noise Abatement:

  • Aircraft noise problems are a major concern at many airports throughout the country. Many local communities have pressured airports into developing specific operational procedures that help limit aircraft noise while operating over nearby areas. As a result, noise abatement procedures have been developed for many of these airports that include standardized profiles and procedures to achieve these lower noise goals
  • Airports that have noise abatement procedures provide information to pilots, operators, air carriers, air traffic facilities, and other special groups that are applicable to their airport. These procedures are available to the aviation community by various means. Most of this information comes from the Chart Supplements, local and regional publications, printed handouts, operator bulletin boards, safety briefings, and local air traffic facilities
  • At airports that use noise abatement procedures, reminder signs may be installed at the taxiway hold positions for applicable runways to remind pilots to use and comply with noise abatement procedures on departure. Pilots who are not familiar with these procedures should ask the tower or air traffic facility for the recommended procedures. In any case, pilots should be considerate of the surrounding community while operating their airplane to and from such an airport. This includes operating as quietly, and safely as possible

Normal Takeoff and Climb Common Errors:

  • Failure to adequately clear the area prior to taxiing into position on the active runway
  • Abrupt use of the throttle
  • Failure to check engine instruments for signs of malfunction after applying takeoff power
  • Failure to anticipate the airplane’s left turning tendency on initial acceleration
  • Over-correcting for left turning tendency
  • Relying solely on the airspeed indicator rather than developed feel for indications of speed and airplane controllability during acceleration and lift-off
  • Failure to attain proper lift-off attitude
  • Inadequate compensation for torque/P-factor during initial climb resulting in a side-slip
  • Over-Control of elevators during initial climb out
  • Limiting scan to areas directly ahead of the airplane (pitch attitude and direction), resulting in allowing a wing (usually the left) to drop immediately after lift-off
  • Failure to attain/maintain best rate-of-climb airspeed (Vy)
  • Failure to employ the principles of attitude flying during climb-out resulting in "chasing" the airspeed indicator
Effect of premature lift-off
Airplane Flying Handbook, Effect of premature lift-off

Normal Takeoff and Climb Airman Certification Standards:

  • Private Pilot Standards:

    • Complete the appropriate checklist
    • Make radio calls as appropriate
    • Verify assigned/correct runway
    • Ascertain wind direction with or without visible wind direction indicators
    • Position the flight controls for the existing wind conditions
    • Clear the area; taxi into the takeoff position and align the airplane on the runway centerline (ASEL, AMEL) or takeoff path (ASES, AMES)
    • Confirm takeoff power; and proper engine and flight instrument indications prior to rotation (ASEL, AMEL)
    • Rotate and lift off at the recommended airspeed and accelerate to Vy
    • Retract the water rudders, as appropriate, establish and maintain the most efficient planing/liftoff attitude, and correct for porpoising and skipping (ASES, AMES)
    • Establish pitch attitude to maintain the manufacturer’s recommended speed, or Vy+10/-5 knots
    • Retract the landing gear and flaps in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance
    • Maintain Vy+10/-5 knots to a safe maneuvering altitude
    • Maintain directional control and proper wind drift correction throughout takeoff and climb
    • Comply with noise abatement procedures
  • Commercial Pilot Standards:

    • Complete the appropriate checklist
    • Make radio calls as appropriate
    • Verify assigned/correct runway
    • Ascertain wind direction with or without visible wind direction indicators
    • Position the flight controls for the existing wind conditions
    • Clear the area; taxi into takeoff position and align the airplane on the runway centerline (ASEL, AMEL) or takeoff path (ASES, AMES)
    • Confirm takeoff power and proper engine and flight instrument indications prior to rotation (ASEL, AMEL)
    • Rotate and lift off at the recommended airspeed and accelerate to Vy
    • Retract the water rudders, as appropriate, establish and maintain the most efficient planing/liftoff attitude, and correct for porpoising and skipping (ASES, AMES)
    • Establish pitch attitude to maintain the manufacturer’s recommended speed, or Vy+/-5 knots
    • Retract the landing gear and flaps in accordance with manufacturer’s guidance
    • Maintain Vy+/-5 knots to a safe maneuvering altitude
    • Maintain directional control and proper wind drift correction throughout takeoff and climb
    • Comply with noise abatement procedures

Conclusion:

  • Takeoff performance is dependent on a number of factors
  • Different techniques should be considered when departing from shorter airfields, when obstacles are present, when crosswinds are present, or when operating out of a soft (grass/dirt) airfield
  • Understanding the basics and executing normal takeoffs will set you up for success when performing short, soft, or crosswind takeoffs
  • Note that when an instructor/passenger is not in the plane, the weight will be less and therefore the pitch attitude may differ: airborne sooner, climb more rapidly, higher performance

References: