Last week, Qatar Airway’s inaugural flight from New York’s JFK to Qatar had an aborted take off 18 seconds into acceleration. The jet’s computer system canceled it’s own takeoff — because it calculated that runway 22R was too short.
Journalists and staff onboard the plane were filming the take off and watching it on their individual screens when the craft came to a juddering halt. Pillows from economy reportedly flew through the cabin.
The Points Guy Editor-in-Chief Zach Honig reported that he and others were terrified. He and other passengers wanted to get off the plane but Qatar refused a deplaning until they tried another take off on a different runway. This second takeoff worked! You can hear the ATC conversation between the Qatar pilot and ATC at JFK:
A close call in a plane is indeed quite terrifying because one feels powerless. I have had a couple of times in my 1000+ flights when I wanted to get off too! One was a multiple snowstorm cell somewhere which means we pitched, bounced and spun for what seemed to be an eternity.
The media following this incident, however, has had me bemused. The aborted takeoff has been described as a “disaster”. I call MH17 a disaster. It has been referred to as a “fail”. Aborted takeoffs occur quite regularly as do aborted landings and don”t necessarily indicate failure. I have been in a few “go arounds” now. I don’t see them as a fail. Qatar may have a little embarrassment but in the end the jet took off, flew and landed safely. Even the aborted takeoff was a safety measure. There may have been a disaster if the runway had indeed been too short for takeoff!
Let us watch our hyperbole. In the meantime watch this video of the first Qatar 350 flight to the USA last week. Their 350 will start flying to Philadelphia in January 2016 followed by Boston in March and a second daily flight to New York City in April.