Why is taking off more dangerous than landing?

Landing is generally considered quite a bit more hazardous (and requires a bit more exacting handling), but both takeoffs and landings can have their challenges. Still, aircraft like to fly; sometimes it can be a little tricky to encourage them to stop doing so at the end of a flight, especially in the presence of unpredictable winds or slippery runways.

This is a graphic from my favorite go-to reference on commercial aircraft accidents, updated annually by Boeing but including all airliner accidents:

The shaded area under the aircraft silhouette shows the amount of time an aircraft spends in each “phase of flight.” At the top, there are two numbers worth looking at carefully. Final approach and landing is when 48% — essentially half — of all fatal accidents that have occurred from 1959 through 2016. By contrast, taking off and starting to climb is only about a quarter as hazardous (13%). These ratios used to be somewhat different; takeoffs used to see their share of accidents a lot more frequently than today.

The biggest challenge with taking off in the early days of jet airliners was the rate at which they could accelerate during their takeoff roll. Often, a lot of time was required between when the aircraft passed the speed at which the pilots were committed to taking off (V1) and when the jet actually could get into the air with a positive rate of climb. When an emergency would suddenly present itself in that window of vulnerability, sometimes there were no good options, and sometimes the pilots picked the wrong one.

One of the biggest ways pilots (and flight engineers in aircraft that use them) have to earn their paychecks is when something bad happens during a takeoff roll and they have to decide whether to continue the takeoff and deal with the problem in the air, or if the situation is critical enough that it’d be preferable to wrestle the fuel-laden beast on the ground and risk going off the end of the runway.

To try to address the need for added clarity in such situations, some of these early accidents led to recognition of the need for establishing a second speed benchmark (V2), which is the point at which the aircraft is going fast enough to make a successful takeoff with one engine out. Bear in mind that a lot of the biggest early jets had four engines, none of which was nearly as powerful as the current generation (some actually used water injection systems to boost their thrust during takeoff), and which suffered failures a lot more often.

“Rejected takeoffs” are pretty rare occurrences these days, and airport design has gotten better at minimizing the consequences of an aircraft running off the end of a runway if circumstances conspire to make things exciting for its inhabitants. For example, “engineered material arresting systems” are basically long slabs of pavement designed to collapse under the weight of an aircraft, grabbing hold of it and bringing it to a fairly enthusiastic stop.

This may not sound desirable, but some of the places EMAS has been installed (e.g. Boston’s Logan, New York’s LaGuardia) have seen more than their share of aircraft in trouble winding up in bodies of water during what are euphemistically (but accurately) referred to as “runway excursions.” Such departures can happen during either takeoff or landing emergencies, and it’s nice to know that the chances of surviving both have been improved significantly with one ingenious invention.

This information was taken from Quora. Click here to view the original post.

What seems scarier to you: taking off or landing? Tell us in the comments below!

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What are your thoughts on this subject?
Lynne Cage
Mmm 🤔 I may still fly when / if I get the opportunity ✈️
Oct 18, 2021 4:55AM
Try landing a small air plane in the turbulence of an airliner!!!😱
Jan 18, 2021 7:01PM
Flyingtigers nunn
crosswind landings can be tricky..whether in an airliner or a small plane..Sudden gusts at the moment of touchdown can sometimes blow a light plane right off the center stripe of the runway, in both instances, a hand on the throttle(s) just prior to touchdown on a windy day can help in case of having to execute a go- you can try again,
Jan 16, 2020 5:14PM
John Duckworth
Interesting. Looking even more forward (as a nervous flier) to my flight next Friday. 😱
Jan 4, 2020 12:24AM
Raymond Cardona
Oh man another issue to think about when flying. Bonnie
Jul 31, 2019 2:16PM
Louis Michael Durocher,
Merci beaucoup, très intéressant..
Jul 26, 2019 8:51AM
Darlene Davidson
Say three Hail Mary's upon take off and landing.
Feb 10, 2019 4:49PM
Olaf Krause
As you caan see from the graphics, the fatalities from accidents during final approach and landing are much higher than the fatalities from accidents during takeoff. This has a simple reason: Before taking off, the pilot can judge if he takes off or not according to the actual conditions. During approach and landing the decision window is much smaller.
Jan 16, 2019 6:02PM
Clarence Quismundo
Headline is confusing. The writer does not seem to be able to make up his mind.
Dec 28, 2018 12:01AM
David Mills
Nonsense!! As a long-time pilot with many types, you have it backwards. On take off, if a problem occurs, you gun it and there's a lot of space to go to - up, left, or right. On landing, you have a little slot through which you have thread the aircraft. You miss the slot. you're screwed.
Dec 16, 2018 10:09PM
Don Racette
Jeanine Swanson Your husband told me he hopes you just fly off into the wild blue yonder forever.
Nov 20, 2018 5:11PM
Jeanine Swanson
I have ALWAYS been more nervous during takeoff, and simply enjoy the view upon landing.
Nov 17, 2018 9:03PM
Ian Swindale
Very interesting
Nov 10, 2018 3:05AM
Christina McKenzie
Flying on really small aircrafts to Orkney and the Shetlands was scary. So was from Toronto to Pembroke. On a B.A. flight to India, there was terrible turbulence. I was fast asleep, but my husband saw the figure 666 on the monitor and prayed hard!
Sep 28, 2018 12:42PM
Jane Elise Naylor
I was always more worried about take - off - there are wings full of highly combustible fuel if anything goes wrong!
Sep 28, 2018 9:56AM

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