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  • John Green
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2011
    • 6643

    Short take off

    Last Thursday, I was on one of Mr. O'Leary's aerial taxis - a 737/800 ready to depart from Luqa. I don't know how long the runway is in total but, it looked massive. We were at hold Delta for 31. The hold board showed the figures of - if my memory is correct - 2276 meters which I took to indicate meant the amount of runway in front of us at that point.

    The aircraft was full as we turned right onto 31 and trundled down the runway getting airborne just a bit short of the numbers. My question to those in the know is: why - from the hold - didn't the pilot turn left onto 31 and thus take advantage of that otherwise useless item 'runway behind you' ?

    It suggests that the flight deck were pretty confident that they wouldn't get any bright lights winking at them on the panel and that in the event of an emergency they would be able to stop within the shorter length of the runway (doubtful) or, proceed with the departure and land back on (even more doubtful)

    This is a genuine question for any one with a likely answer.
  • viscount
    Rank 5 Registered User
    • Mar 2011
    • 392

    #2
    The Jepperson charts on the net show Luqa, Malta's 32 length at 11,627ft/3544m, which is some runway!

    Holding point D is a quick taxi off the main apron, and is a little short of half way down the runway. From hold D to the 32 threshold is shown as back-track taxi.

    For comparison your figure of 2276 metres of remaining runway 32 from hold D is more or less the same total length of runway at Liverpool John Lennon (Jepperson shows the 27 length as 7,497ft/2285m) from which Ryanair have flown to Malta routinely in the past. Liverpool as 12th busiest passenger airport in the UK is hardly in the class of a short field airport and their 2285m is considered more than adequate for even the furthest European destinations.

    So why did the Ryanair crew opt to depart from holding point Delta? Certainly a time and fuel saving measure over making the back-track. Perhaps though, the 32 threshold was displaced due to work in progress and Delta to threshold unavailable. Certainly the crew will have computed the take off distances, air temperature/strength/direction, weights, speeds and margins before leaving the terminal and accepting a departure from Delta. I doubt that the crew viewed the take-off from Delta as particularly short, just as less than the full length.

    I am not flight crew, nor a pilot, but have spent many years around airports and airliners.
    Last edited by viscount; 2nd May 2015, 21:06.

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    • CNXspotter
      Rank 2 Registered User
      • Apr 2015
      • 8

      #3
      I have heard that Ryanair has their engines uprated due to operating from many secondary airports. Gives them more power on shorter runways.

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      • John Green
        Rank 5 Registered User
        • Mar 2011
        • 6643

        #4
        Thank you for your answers. I did forget to mention that while at Delta, I looked to the left and saw a helicopter parked to one side of and clear of 31. We were at the hold for some few minutes, during which time a 146 landed from the left. As we turned right to enter and line up, I looked left and saw the helicopter about thirty feet over the runway in the hover. So, perhaps, that was the problem.

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