Taking off on the wrong runway can have serious consequences. This one pilot error can lead to runway incursions, FAA violations, and even fatal accidents. Pilots can greatly improve their chances of getting it right by adding one simple step to their takeoff clearance.
The procedure comes in three simple steps: verify, verify, and verify!
- Verify that you are cleared for takeoff. Make sure that a takeoff clearance was given and read back if operating at a controlled airport.
- Verify the runway number on the pavement. Taking off on Runway 32 means there had better be a 32 out the window!
- Verify runway heading is displayed in the compass and DG. This is a great chance to catch any last minute gyroscopic precession errors.
I do each of these steps as a flow. Suppose you are holding short and receive the following clearance:
“Piper 12345, clear for takeoff Runway 27.”
As you read back the clearance, be sure to verify, verify, verify:
“Cleared for takeoff… “ // We’ve got step one down!
“…Runway 27…” // Glance at the runway numbers and/or hold-short sign and verify that this is in fact Runway 27.
“…Piper 12345.” // As you roll onto the runway centerline, make sure the DG and compass agree with the runway heading (270º in this case).