Video Of Near Disaster For A Royal Air Maroc 737 On Takeoff

Flying is incredibly safe, and fortunately things only go very wrong very rarely. For every accident that actually happens, I imagine there are exponentially more “near misses,” or situations that could have ended very poorly but don’t.

Well a couple of days ago video footage was uploaded to YouTube of a Royal Air Maroc 737 taking off from Frankfurt… only it wouldn’t take off. Here’s the description of the video:

What was this pilot thinking? Watch as they rotate at a very slow speed causing the aircraft’s nose to lift off the ground but not generating enough lift to become fully airborne, & then shortly after stalling they continue to accelerate down the runway to rotate at a faster speed. I have no idea as to why this happened, but some theories could include an incorrect flap setting, the setting of incorrect V speeds or an incorrect trim?

But in this day and age, surely error mistakes like these shouldn’t be apparent in commercial aviation? Even if the mistakes had been made, aborting the takeoff could’ve been a safer option, than putting the passengers, crew & aircraft at risk in this dangerous situation. Leave your opinions in the comments.

And here’s the video:

For those of you not at all familiar with how planes “work,” basically there’s a speed at which pilots are supposed to “rotate,” though clearly the pilots did so prematurely here. The plane seems to have a near tail strike, then leaves the ground without having enough speed (and therefore) lift to get airborne. If they had continued to pull up, the plane would have stalled, and it could have been catastrophic. Fortunately they brought the plane back to the ground, let it gain some speed, and then rotated at what I assume was the correct speed.

We really don’t know what happened, and it’s possible this wasn’t the pilots’ fault. There could have been a big gust of wind that changed their airspeed, or it might be that they programmed the inflight computer incorrectly. But one thing is for sure — they had a safe recovery, and that’s what counts, as it could have ended very badly for everyone aboard.

It’s not often you get video footage of stuff like this!


  1. I’m not an expert by any means but from that angle the flap configuration doesn’t look right either, but then they appear to finally takeoff with the same configuration so maybe it was only the speed? It does seem to leave the ground prematurely.

  2. Hi. The problem here was that the pilot forgot to extend wing flaps. Speed was right just wing flaps weren’t extended. Very critical error anyway.

  3. Looks like 2-5 degrees of flaps instead of 10. May have been they rotated at the correct speed with flaps at a different configuration since flaps allow the aircraft to develop lift at lower airspeeds.

  4. I was once in a similar situation in an Avianca 757 at JFK. We took off and then hit the ground again within a few seconds with a loud thump. Everybody, including the flight attendants, screamed. We continued down the runway and eventually became successfully airborne. Scariest moment I’ve had on a plane.

  5. I fly 737 for a living and I see comments to this post hasnt been correct so far.
    – Flaps are set, probably 1 degree. Normal range is 1, 5, 15 or 25. You can see they are set by the leading edge flaps and slats extended.
    – This is a pilot error. They may have set flaps incorrect according to calculated speeds and thrust, or calculated speeds and thrust wrong (used a lower take off mass that correct when calculating). Any way, I cant see anything else than an pilot error, one way or another.

    The good thing is that the pilot flying noticed and stopped the rotation. If he had continued, it would have been a tail strike. That is absolutely not good, but usually ends without harm to people. Tail strike is not unusual for the B737, but mostly the longer versions (737-800, 737-900 and 737-900ER). When i say not unusual, i mean worldwide there are several every year.

  6. +1 for the flaps not being in the proper configuration… Obviously, someone wasn’t following the take-off checklist.

    Incidents like this are why there’s extensive, often tedious, checklists for flight procedures. It’s supposed to be drilled into pilots’ brains that you follow the checklist, step-by-step until it’s finished. To new pilots, it seems like a waste of time, but those checklists are why aviation accidents are relatively rare.

  7. Sounded quite windy. Flap position would have been correct for an A320 taking off into the wind (I think). Of course, this wasn’t an A320, so I can only think someone up front recently transitioned and their work wasn’t checked, which speaks to CRM challenges.

  8. I am just a private pilot, but several of my family members fly heavy aircraft out of the U.S. Based on many conversations that I have had with them about aircraft incidents here and abroad, it seems pilot training, or lack there of plays a huge role. I am hesitant to fly on any airline who does not use pilots trained in the U.S.

  9. An error like this killed 154 people in Spanair flight 5022 and put them out of business. Since then I always pay attention to flap configuration and once saw we were pushing back and starting the engines without extended flaps and I flagged a FA and told her about it, to which she said “don’t worry, they’ll work it out”. Eventually the pilots extended the flaps but this does happen once in a blue moon and people have died because of it.

  10. Good reaction and correction by pilots,even if the issue may have been caused by them directly or indirectly.
    Was this reported to regulatory agencies and will there be an investigation?
    Would be good to hear the official explanation.

  11. I agree with Mark, looks like the flaps/slats configuration is likely to be in the 1 or 2 position, rather than the commonly used 5 position. There are certainly some degree of flaps/slats extended, though likely not quite at 5. With that said, flap 1 is also an approved take off setting, therefore would not trigger the takeoff config warning. However, it may be very likely that the pilots calculated the takeoff speed for a flap 5 take off

  12. Flying is very safe. I want to say there was a mayday episode involving Northwest Airlines where the pilots forgot to adjust the flaps on takeoff. One of the first episodes of season 1.

  13. “Mike” the backseat driver. Would have loved to watch you tell the FA about an incorrect flap setting at pushback/engine start. Would you also remind the pilot to put the gear down an hour before landing? Comedy.

  14. @Guyguyguy sorry but I’d rather say something and be wrong than be right and staying quiet. I have a one-year old at home, so I don’t really care what anyone makes of it.

  15. Problem #1 – Failure to follow the “before takeoff” checklist, takeoff configuration. Airlines use a challenge and answer checklist rundown. I’m surprised that the flight management computer didn’t have audible alarms going off. Definitely flight deck error. The captain should have executed a go-around, landed and had the fuselage checked. The airline should have grounded both pilots at least until an investigation is complete. Northwest flight 255 had one survived from takeoff crash with no flaps, pilot error. Improper takeoff configuration alarm failed to sound due to power supply problem.

  16. @Mike – Even if you were right, the FA still wouldn’t believe you and actually go talk to the pilots. It is best to not worry about these things since you ultimately have no control.

  17. Mark is absolutely right. I am almost sure they made a calculation with a wrong take off mass. A couple of 1000 kg less or more gives you different speeds. An error is easily made. A specially when only one pilot is doing the calculation. At the airliner where i fly for it is mandatory to do it both and compare. And yes errors like a “slip of the finger ” are easily made, but that is why you make both the calculation and compare!

    (i fly the B737-700) Flaps 1 configuration for take of i very common.
    I would say 9 out of 10 times we use flaps 1. The checklist that we use, directs you two times to the flap setting, 1: before taxi checklist and 2: before take off checklist. That means that we select the flap setting after push back while the engines are already running.

    Adam your common is really irrelevant It has nothing to do with where the pilot are trained. As i only can speak about Europe, the training standards are really high and. It is a pilot error that can happen to everybody if you don’t follow the checklist correctly or don’t compare your calculations wit each other for take off and landing.

    The FMC (Flight management computer ) is stupid in that sense shit in is shit out. If you put in incorrect values i will calculate with those values. At the airliner that i fly for we manual put in the V1, VR(rotate) en V2 speeds. That means if i put in a VR of 120 kts instead of 140 kts it will show 120 kts as the speed as which a have to rotate the aircraft. There is no other safety protection for errors like that than double check the calculated speeds by the first officer and captain.

    Sorry for my bad spelling.

  18. Seems this guy tried to take off without flaps and pulled up thinking he had reached the correct VR. Usually have to reach a faster speed which means longer runway. His copilot must of missed an item on his takeoff checklist. He’s lucky he had plenty of runway.

  19. Tom says:
    August 26, 2016 at 4:10 pm
    @Mike – Even if you were right, the FA still wouldn’t believe you and actually go talk to the pilots. It is best to not worry about these things since you ultimately have no control.

    Mike did jump the gun a bit…flaps are routinely extended during taxi. That said, I would encourage any passenger who seems something that bothers them to speak up. Two cases in point: A passenger boarding the Aloha 737 that shed its roof noted a rip in the fuselage skin, but was afraid to say anything. Had she done so, the death of the FA and injuries to many could have been avoided. Also, in June, 1979, a Concorde blew one or more tires on takeoff, and the wing suffered significant damage. A passenger tried to alert the crew, who basically blew him off at first. He insisted, and eventually a cockpit crew member appeared. When the alert passenger actually pulled the pilot’s head over to get the right angle to see the damage, that pilot said, “Mon dieu” at the size of the hole, and they went back to land post-haste.

  20. The first thing I noticed was the A330 on approach to runway 7R crossing directly ahead of the 737. Using the FAA’s ATC training handbooks and other sources, a simple diagram showing wingtip vortices spreading above and along runway 18 makes it easy to see the true cause of this event. The 737 encountered the lower half of both vortices during the takeoff roll. Such an encounter would emulate a microburst on the surface. Indicated airspeed would read high then drop . Only after clearing the second vortex would airspeed rise and indicate normally. Bottom line is the 737 departed with insufficient delay after the A330 passed.

    EDDF airport configuration is a major contributor to this incident. See poster Jon Nevin’s link to AVHerald for additional information.

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