Not by a few tonnes. But by 100 tonnes.
Where : Melbourne
When : 20 March 2009.
What : Emirates Airlines flight 407.
Who : 257 passengers and 18 crew
How : Because the plane had been told it was 100 tonnes lighter than it actually was, it generated insufficient thrust for takeoff. And the take-off reference speed was also much too low.
The tail bumped on the runway 5 times!
After exhausting the 3657m runway it was still on the ground, except it was now grass!
It was airborne 170m after the end of the runway.
And the altitude then?
2 feet off the ground!
Here’s a photo of the damage done.
sources : wiki and aviationsafety and theaustralian and flyertalk
….at the last minute, the pilot took the controls and threw the engines into full thrust…. asiaone
“This would have been the worst civil air disaster in Australia’s history by a very large margin, there would have been no survivors from that plane and it would have gone down in Keilor Park, so there would have been deaths on the ground also.” Aviation expert Ben Sandilands
“THE pilot at the controls of an Emirates jet that almost crashed at Melbourne Airport has revealed how he saved 275 lives.
Breaking a four-month silence, the pilot told how he managed to wrench the fully-loaded plane into the air just seconds before it almost crashed.
“I still don’t know how we got it off the ground,” the pilot said.
“I thought we were going to die, it was that close.
“It was the worst thing in 20 years (of flying). It was the worst thing I’ve felt, but thank God we got it safely around.”
The pilot, a 42-year-old European man, spoke to the Sunday Herald Sun on the condition his identity not be revealed.
Realising the plane had not reached a high enough speed to get airborne, and with the end of the runway rapidly approaching, the pilot and co-pilot were desperately checking controls in the cockpit, trying to find out what had gone wrong.
At the last second, the pilot engaged a rapid acceleration known as TOGA (take-off go-around) and lifted the plane off the ground.