Erroneous takeoff performance: El Al flight takes off with a 40Tonne error@mindFly


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Read my paper: Erroneous takeoff performance

An El Al Boeing 787-9, registration 4X-EDB performing flight LY-27 from Tel Aviv (Israel) to Newark,NJ (USA) with 282 passengers and 18 crew, was climbing out of Tel Aviv when the captain noticed that the FMS indicated a substantially higher optimal flight level than anticipated and planned. The captain examined the reasons for this and discovered that a zero fuel weight of 40 tons lower than the actual zero fuel weight had been entered into the FMS. The captain immediately understood that the takeoff performance computation had also been wrong, concluded to the severity of the occurrence, notified the airline’s operations center and the fleet manager, who in turn involved Israel’s accident investigation unit. The aircraft continued to Newark for a safe landing without further incident.

Humans will continue to make errors. We cannot be creating new technology and promulgating new procedures everytime an error is made. This is likely to further complicate the whole process and demotivate the pilots, who want to be in charge of the situation rather than be governed by excessive policies and technology. We should seek for the optimum balance.

The solution lies in being present in the situation with full attention. Distractions, rushing through with procedures, carelessness etc. are common causes of such errors.

Simplistic ways like mindfulness and the Japanese way of Shiso Knako are age-old techniques of error reduction.

Investigation report

About Capt. Amit Singh

I think therefore I am Airlines Operations and Safety balance expert. A former head of operations/training and safety of successful LCC's in India. An experienced member of the startup teams of these airlines has hands-on experience in establishing airlines systems and processes.

3 Responses

  1. Amin

    interesting matter , i have incountered a similar situation where the incorrect ZFW was inserted into the FMS .

    Policies must highlight the importance of a thorough cross check of load sheet between all operating flight crew members

    I believe that cockpit distractions have increased Over time by hand over more responsibilities to the flight crew and reducing turnaround time in the interest of cost saving .

    1. Recently I was given a final ZFW by the dispatcher. It was 10T less than planned. Unbelieveable that a full flight can have a 10T drop. I asked him to call up in my presence and check with load control. Sure enough there was no change.
      Had I revised the ZFW and asked for a new CFP, the fuel would have fropped by 2T. Now while taxying, the ACARS Load sheet would have comeup with a 10T increase. Awkward situation.

    2. At present there is no means to verify that the figures that you have received are correct. Pilots job is to correctly enter the received figures. What if the loading supervisor enters incorrect figures in his system. Its not fool proof. Wight on wheels is the only solution. Thumb rules or heuristics can help.

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