Aviation Human Factor

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


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