Re: 737: Take-off without flaps?

Date:         23 Nov 96 20:09:55 
From:         "Mark E. Ingram" <markt@mickey.mo-net.com>
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On 23 Nov 1996, Bernie Gracy, Jr. wrote:

> Can a 737 take off without flaps down?

Yes, and years ago I knew someone who claimed to have done so -
inadvertently, but with the mistake having been discovered before a
premature rotation and lift-off (for the no-flap condition) was made.  A
hip-shot, "on-the-fly" additive was made to the Vr and V2 speeds, to
compensate for the lower-than-standard lift provided by a clean wing - and
fortunately it worked out just fine.

> The captain claimed we were in no danger.

A bit of a stretch, cf. the Delta 727 takeoff accident at DFW.  However,
the 737 may be more tolerant under such circumstances, and of course the
takeoff warning system *should* have alerted the crew to the mis-
configuration (this system failed due to switch misadjustment in the DFW
accident).

> What is proper procedure?

There is no *proper* procedure, as far as I know - except perhaps for use
by test pilots at Boeing.

> Aren't the flaps supposed to come down
> after pushback and engine start but before reaching the taxiway?

The flaps are supposed to be manually *put* into the takeoff position, by
the First Officer, normally right after engine start, but sometimes this
is delayed due to ice or snow, or even ramp congestion.  In either case,
most operators' procedures call for *two* checks of flap position, once
when they are actually moved, and again during a pre-takeoff confirmation
of critical settings.

If the Delta flight had had on board an alert "flap-watcher" like
yourself, the accident very well may have been prevented.

Mark E. Ingram

MarkT@Mo-Net.Com (also mingram@mail.orion.org)