Landing is one of the most critical phases of flight safety, as mistakes like runway excursions can happen without proper planning and execution. Runway excursions occur when an aircraft veers off, or overruns, the normal runway surface. Excursion incidents and accidents occur for a variety of reasons, including pilot error, weather, runway contamination, and mechanical failure.
Runway excursions are recognized in three different situations:
- An aircraft does not recover from an aborted takeoff.
- A landing aircraft does not stop before the runway ends.
- An aircraft overruns the side of the runway while taking off or landing.
Damages caused by runway excursions during landing vary in seriousness much like vehicular rear-ending accidents, shares Tom Johnson of AssuredPartners Aerospace. “Some can be fairly benign, like a tire stuck in the mud, but others involve bodily injury and property damage.” In fact, many excursions can be so mild that they go unreported or unnoticed by the FAA/NTSB. “There’s a lot of excursions that aren’t on the news,” Johnson explains, “They’ll drag it out of the mud and pull the plane into the hangar.” An insurance claim may or may not follow. However, high-impact runway excursions can be fatal, completely destroying aircraft in some scenarios.
Single pilot operations are not solely responsible for runway excursions. These accidents also occur during two-pilot operations, or with a professional flight crew in the cockpit. Johnson shares that while pilot error is not the only cause of runway excursions, they do occur when operators make assumptions. “If they’re going a bit too fast, pilots may think they can salvage their landing.” This thinking can be sloppy, dangerous, and expensive. In fact, preventing a runway excursion starts prior to a mission, long before aircraft descent.
Preventative techniques can help execute a safe and successful flight, even in unstable weather conditions. Proper planning is the most important aspect of a clean landing. Considering factors such as runway length, weather conditions, aircraft weight, wind, crew roles, abort parameters, and sun positioning is crucial for both pilot and passenger safety. Tamarack Founder Nick Guida explains, “In the case of an accident, the ground is going to hurt you the worst – and your biggest exposure to the ground is when you’re landing.” Understanding the changing aspects of each mission proves well worth its time.
Once a mission is thoroughly planned, preventing a runway excursion depends wholly on execution. Pilots are very busy while landing, as they consider factors from crosswinds to air traffic. Tamarack Active Winglets provide a more relaxed, smoother landing at a much slower, safer speed – and a stabilized approach at the proper airspeed and altitude is the key to an ideal landing. According to Guida, “when landing with winglets, the stability improvements allow pilots to feel much more comfortable at proper landing speeds.”
When concluding a mission, pilots must approach any landing with a mindset and preparedness to go-around in order to maintain a safe landing environment. For those who want an extra margin of safety and fuel reserve, Tamarack Active Winglets punctuate a perfect flight with an extremely safe and steady landing – and often, much more fuel reserve. Planning with fuel in mind is a significant stress and safety factor, as fuel is finite (and every pilot deserves to enjoy the last half hour of their flight without reserve fuel stress).
Landing and staying on the runway require a team effort from both airplane and pilot. When preventing excursion accidents or incidents, Active Winglets can provide an ideal landing with a plenty of runway and fuel to spare – plus a happy, safe pilot.