Boeing 737 cleared road on takeoff by just 100ft due to throttle fault

A Tui aircraft cleared a main road by just 100ft when taking off from Bristol airport due to a cockpit fault, according to air accident investigators.

The Boeing 737-800 heading to Las Palmas on March 4 with 163 passengers and six crew on board suffered an autothrottle failure.

The Air Accidents Investigation Bureau (AAIB) issued an alert into what it described as a “serious incident” and is continuing an investigation.

The aircraft was just 10ft in the air when it crossed the end of the runway.  

The A38 road, adjacent to the boundary of Bristol airport, was then overflown at less than 100ft as the correct thrust setting was not set, the report said.

The flight to Las Palmas was “uneventful” apart from several attempts to re-engage the autothrottle and subsequent disengagements, the AAIB added.

The preliminary report said: “A Boeing 737-800 completed a takeoff from Runway 9 at Bristol airport with insufficient thrust to meet regulated performance. 

“The autothrottle disengaged when the takeoff mode was selected, at the start of the takeoff roll, and subsequently the thrust manually set by the crew was less than the required takeoff thrust. 

“Neither pilot then noticed that the thrust was set incorrectly, and it was not picked up through the standard operating procedures.”

Boeing told the AAIB that the autothrottle system on its 737-800s had a long history of “nuisance disconnects” during takeoff. 

A newer version was made available in October 2021 although this was not fitted to the aircraft in question, the AAIB said.

A Tui spokesperson said: “We have worked closely with the authorities to provide all available information.

“The AAIB recommendations and learnings resulting from this take-off will support the whole aviation sector and other airlines.

“The safety of our passengers and crew is always our highest priority.”

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