When the pre-takeoff check list is complete, and prior to broadcasting your intentions for takeoff, conduct a short takeoff briefing that includes the items outlined below. The briefing should be stated from memory.:

  1. Review the windsock condition and the necessary inputs on the control column for crosswind control during the takeoff acceleration.
  2. Review the aircraft rotation speed—i.e., at what airspeed will you place the aircraft in a climb attitude.
  3. Review the climb airspeed you plan to use, whether it is the best-rate (Vy) or best-angle (Vx) climb procedure.
  4. Review any the departure procedures you are required to follow with respect to airport requirements.
  5. Review the actions you will take during the departure in the event of an engine failure.  Below approximately 800’ you will place the aircraft in the maximum distance glide airspeed and land straight ahead making gentle turns to avoid fixed objects.  Vital actions that must be performed are 1) Fuel Pump ON; 2) Carburettor Heat ON; 3) Fuel Selector SWITCH.  Above approximately 800’ you will be more aggressive in picking adjacent fields, and the same vital actions will be performed.

Here is a sample:

“Okay, we are going to use (takeoff) Runway 19.  The length is sufficient for a normal takeoff.  There is a slight crosswind from right to left (implying the use of proper aileron inputs during the takeoff roll).  We will rotate at 64 MPH and climb at 86 MPH.  After crossing the highway we will make a gentle turn to a heading of 160 and climb to 900’ before turning on course.1  In the event of an engine failure below 800’ we will control the aircraft and make gentle turns to avoid fixed objects.  Our glide speed will be 80 MPH.  The vital actions required will be Mixture RICH, fuel pump ON, carburettor heat ON, and we will immediately switch to the alternate fuel tank.  Above 800’ we will perform the same vital actions but be more aggressive in selecting a field (landing area).

If you have passengers, they have of course been briefed on emergency procedures, but it would be best prior to takeoff with passengers to review the briefing mentally.

Understand the philosophy behind the takeoff briefing.  If the unthinkable happens on the departure and the engine should quit, we will have at least allowed the brain the opportunity to review the needed actions.  Should the engine fail, we will not have time to think—we will only have time to act.  The priority is to not stall the aircraft (as this could lead to a dangerously high sink-rate and possibly a spin), and to avoid hitting any fixed objects on the ground (which would produce a dangerously high G-force deceleration).  The “dead-persons turn” is to attempt to turn back to the runway.


1 This is the published Noise Abatement Procedure for Runway 19 Departures.  For Runway 01, which does not have published procedures, a good brief is “we will climb along the runway track to 1000’ prior to turning on course,” or “we will climb straight-out to 500’ before turning for the circuit.”