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Moment Pilot Uses 'Every Centimeter' of Runway for Plane at Weight Limit


1 week ago 24

A cockpit view of a Boeing aircraft lifting off from a runway at its maximum takeoff weight has captivated users on Instagram.

The moment was captured in a viral video shared by Christiaan van Heijst, a Dutch 747 plane captain with over 9,500 flying hours and 20 years of flying experience, on his Instagram account @jpcvanheijst. The footage has had 2.1 million views since it was shared on January 23.

A caption shared with the post reads: "Taking off with a maximum take-off weight of just over 410,000 kilograms [308,600 pounds], including 140,000 kilograms of jet fuel and close to 100,000 kilograms of cargo on board.

"I align the enormous 747-400 [Boeing plane] at the beginning of runway 25L—we're going to need every centimeter of the 3,800-meter-long [4,155 yards] runway today," the caption continues.

The footage shows a view of the runway from the cockpit of the plane. The aircraft is shown slowly moving forward as a voice in the background runs through a list of various checks during the takeoff, from "thrust set" to "V1," which is described as "the point of no return."

The post comes as Boeing has come under fire after the aircraft manufacturer's 737 Max 9 plane operated by Alaska Airlines was forced to make an emergency landing in early January this year after a door plug flew off mid-air shortly after takeoff.

The Alaska Airlines mid-air panel blowout was followed by a series of other incidents involving the malfunctioning of Boeing aircraft parts on flights operated by several other airlines, including United and Delta Air Lines, that has put the safety of Boeing planes into question.

The viral cockpit footage also comes amid an ongoing pilot shortage, with airlines in North America alone projected to be in need of around 130,000 new pilots in the next 20 years, according to data compiled by Statista, the global data firm.

'Just Amazing'

The "deafening roar and power" of the aircraft's engines can be heard in the viral video "as they spool up to a total of roughly 260,000 pounds of thrust, or 104.5 percent—the takeoff thrust setting they can maintain for at most five minutes," explains the caption shared with the post.

A voice in the video is heard saying "thrust set," which is called out to confirm the desired thrust, according to the caption.

The pilot later announces, "80 knots," which is the point at which the pilots verify the proper functioning of the airspeed indicators as well as the transition from "the 'low-speed' to the 'high-speed' regime," the caption explains.

"During this phase, I would consider rejecting the take-off only in the most dire situations. It is also the moment when there is sufficient airflow over the giant tail to provide adequate influence for steering using the rudder," the pilot notes in the caption.

The voice later says "V1," which is "the point of no return" and when the pilot removes his hand from the thrust levers, "committing us to takeoff, regardless of what happens from this point onward," the caption says.

The voice later says "rotate" as the plane approaches 175 knots (325 km/h)—and the nose of the plane is gradually pulled upwards before "within seconds, the landing gear is off the ground," and the end of the runway disappears beneath the nose of the aircraft.

"We're airborne, engines at full thrust, and our speed stabilizes at roughly 190 knots—352 km/h—as we climb out over the South China Sea, steadily gaining altitude like a pregnant duck on a mission," the pilot explains in the caption.

"But we're not out of the woods yet. We must be at or above 15,700 feet before entering Chinese airspace, roughly 50 track miles from our current position. A combination of maximum climb thrust and maximum rate of climb speed gets us there, though it's a close call today. Never a dull moment in Hong Kong," he notes.

Plane taking off from runway at airport.
A stock image of an aircraft taking off from a runway. A video of a cockpit view of a plane lifting off at its maximum take-off weight has gone viral on Instagram. iStock / Getty Images Plus

Instagram users were blown away by the latest viral clip, such as saiprasadnimbalkar09 who wrote "Amazing! Just amazing."

User teightertot asked: "Why is the ascent so scaryyyyy?"

"Been doing this for a minute, but it still amazes me sometimes that 410 tonnes worth of metal can fly so gracefully in the sky :)," said aryaman.parmar.

Newsweek has contacted the original poster for comment via Instagram and the pilot's website.

Do you have a travel-related video or story to share? Let us know via [email protected] and your story could be featured on Newsweek.

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Newsweek is committed to challenging conventional wisdom and finding connections in the search for common ground.

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