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In aviation terminology, a rejected takeoff (RTO) or aborted takeoff is the situation in which it is decided to abort the takeoff of an airplane. There can be many reasons for deciding to perform a rejected takeoff, but they are usually due to suspected or actual technical failures, like an engine failure such as a compressor stall occurring during the takeoff run.
A rejected takeoff is normally performed only if the aircraft's speed is below the takeoff decision speed known as V1, which for larger multi-engined airplanes is calculated before each flight. Below the decision speed the airplane should be able to stop safely before the end of the runway. Above the decision speed, the airplane may overshoot the runway if the takeoff is aborted and therefore a rejected takeoff is normally not performed above this speed, unless there is reason to doubt the airplane's ability to fly. If a serious failure occurs or is suspected above V1 but the airplane's ability to fly is not in doubt, the takeoff is continued despite the (suspected) failure and the airplane will attempt to land again as soon as possible.
Single-engine aircraft will normally reject any takeoff after an engine failure, regardless of speed, as there is no power available to continue the takeoff. Even if the airplane is already airborne, if sufficient runway remains, an attempt to land straight ahead on the runway may be made. This may also apply to some light twin engine airplanes.
Before the takeoff roll is started, the autobrake system of the aircraft, if available, is set to the RTO mode. The autobrake system will automatically apply maximum brakes if throttle is reduced to idle or reverse thrust during the takeoff roll.
An RTO is usually seen as one of the hardest tests an airplane has to undergo for its certification trials. The RTO test is performed under the worst possible conditions; i.e. with fully worn out brakes, the plane loaded to maximum takeoff weight and no use of thrust reversers.
During an RTO test most of the kinetic energy of the airplane is converted to heat by the brakes, which may cause the fusible plugs of the tires to melt, causing them deflate; and small fires may start. This is acceptable to pass the test, as long as the resulting fire does not spread to the airplane body. The airport fire brigade will have to wait for five minutes before they are allowed to cool the brakes.
- 2008 South Carolina Learjet 60 crash (an RTO above V1)
- Video of a Boeing 747 with an engine flameout on engine number 1 causing it to perform a rejected takeoff
- Airliners.net - Photos detailing a RTO performed by a Lockheed Tristar at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport
- Video of a Boeing 747-8 rejected takeoff testing
- Bernard Choi and Joe Parke (2011), Boeing.com - Boeing 747-8 Performs ultimate rejected take-off, article retrieved 30 January 2013.