Making the Correct Takeoff Briefing
The Takeoff Briefing (TOB) is simply a plan of action for the takeoff and possible emergencies that might occur during this critical phase. The Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) for Langley Flying School require that the TOB be provided just prior to engines start-up,1 while other operators require that the TOB be completed during the taxi phase, or just prior to takeoff. In either case, the TOB should be standardized and must be conducted before every departure. The conditions surrounding a takeoff are always subject to variation, so expect that there will be a certain amount of customization in the content of the TOB to fit the actual takeoff and departure.2 The TOB must include the following:
Keep your eye on the big picture with respect to TOBs. The purpose of TOBs is twofold. First and foremost, TOBs serve to exercise your brain for the possibility of an engine failure; should a failure occur, the vital actions will still be in your short-term memory banks (hopefully). Secondly, TOBs get those in a multi-crew environment5 oriented toward “common” or “shared” flight-performance parameters—i.e., the left-seat guy and the right-seat guy are thinking the same numbers, the same decisions and associated choices, and the same vital tasks that must be accomplished as decisions are made.
It is mandatory that the TOB include a statement to the effect that Vmc will be “protected” or “guarded” in the event of such a failure, and those at the controls must remind themselves that an engine failure at such a critical time will obviously require spontaneously “pitch forward” of the nose if there is going to be any chance of securing a blue-line climb should an engine fail just after rotation. Here is an example of a TOB that utilizes a “decision speed:”
“We will be taking off Runway 19 with a left to right crosswind. I will initiate rotation through 80 MPH and initially climb at 105 MPH. Departure procedures require that I turn left after crossing the highway to a heading of 150°, and climb to 1000’. After passing 400’ I will set climb power and increase our speed to 120 MPH. In the event of an engine failure below 90 MPH, I will reject the takeoff and apply maximum braking. With an engine failure above 90 MPH, I will control the aircraft and pitch forward to guard Vmc. I will confirm maximum power is set, I will ensure the gear and flaps up, identify, and verify the dead engine, and feather and fire check the dead engine. The climb will continue at blue line and I will complete the landing back at LangleyAirport. If at any time the airspeed erodes toward the red line, I will bring the throttles back and we will land straight ahead. Any questions?”
A second variation on a TOB is one which utilises a “decision point”—typically used with less confined runway where the engine failure immediately after rotation (prior to blue-line speed) is less critical.
“Departure Runway is 07. The winds are right-to-left. Rotation speed is through 80 and the departure speed is blue line—105 MPH. The climb power will be set after 400’ and I will accelerate to 120. If I have an engine failure below blue line, or above blue line with sufficient runway, I will retard both throttles and land straight ahead, applying maximum braking. With an engine failure above blue line with insufficient runway, I will “control,” “power,” “drag,” “identify,” “verify,” “feather” and fire check the bad engine. The climb will continue at blue line for the circuit landing back at this airport. Any questions?”
During your multi-engine training, including the flight test, you should provide the TOB automatically.
Remember also that the briefing is not just a recital of some ritualistic phrase—it is a crucial time to prepare yourself and the person sitting next to you for the big one. Make it an honest and sincere rehearsal for your performance.
1 See Pre-start checklist items in checklist copy that appears at the back of this Manual.
2 If conducting an obstacle-clearance takeoff, for example, where the rotation speed is different (70 MPH instead of 80 MPH), then this information must be included in the TOB. Similar requirements would apply to a non-confined runway departure (see p. 34).
3 The Segments which make up the departure are discussed in Standard Operating Procedures—see p. 33.
4 Decision Speed and Decision Point are discussed in Standard Operating Procedures—see p. 34.
5 The two-crew training environment, as well as the multi-crew commercial operations environment.