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6 Answers

Intersection Departure From Non-towered Airport

Asked by: 4393 views , , ,
FAA Regulations, General Aviation

The other day reading about departure procedures, i read about intersection departures. That got me thinking: if it's standard terminology and procedure at towered airports, then it would be ok to announce at a non-towered airport, "Podunk Traffic, intersection departure at midfield, runway 99, Podunk." Modify appropriately to the site your using, and don't entertain using such procedure on a busy day or trying to cut someone off. Mix in plenty of looking to make sure no one is arriving or departing without using the radio. But at $140+/flight hour, empty or nearly empty airport, non-busy day, it saves a few bucks and gets one out of the airport quicker.

Sharing with other pilots, some think that's dangerous maverick procedures, and others agree with the perspective above. What say you, oh wise ones of the askacfi world?

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6 Answers



  1. Bill Trussell on Feb 19, 2013

    Intersection departures are good,useable procedures intended to keep traffic moving at busy airports as well as allowing for mixing of aircraft classes and weights on the same runway. I do not recommend using it in a training environment unless it is to facilitate knowledge of how to execute one properly. Beyond that, you have paid for the runway to be used, why not use it all? The possibility of needing that runway for execution of an aborted takoff is very real ( I have hand multiple instances of it in 30+ years) and you might need that runway you have left behind.

    If you are in that big of a hurry perhaps another hobby is more suitable to your taste than flying. All time entered into a log book is valuable time. I would hate to see your log book come to a premature end due to your haste, IMHO.

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  2. Sam Dawson on Feb 19, 2013

    I disagree in some cases. Taking off in a J-3 that needs a takeoff ground roll of about 400′ there may be no need to taxi all the way to the end of the 10,000′ runway. If I can’t make it off in that 5000′ remaining at the intersection I may need a different hobby. I have also been in situations where the runup area prior to a runway is blocked so I use an intersection. Many cases I can think of where an intersection departure is perfectly safe. Even under 121 with all of the added safety margins it was perfectly legal and safe if the intersection was listed in our takeoff data.
    Now there are times when doing so does introduce unneeded risk. But not always.

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  3. Ernest R Ortner III on Feb 19, 2013

    I believe that the use of intersection takeoffs in the interest of traffic flow is perfectly acceptable. However the use of an intersection takeoff in the interest of time is something that should be avoided. Much like was said above you may need that extra runway you chose not to use. If something happens that could have been avoided by having that extra runway it will be used in the investigation, much like the comment that is seen over and over, no flight plan was filed. I am not a CFI and I am still working on my commercial but one thing I have learned thus far, always slow down and take your time. Every minute you are operating the aircraft you are learning. Those are my $.02.

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  4. Mark Kolber on Feb 19, 2013

    There are those who think intersection takeoffs are a problematic procedure, whether the airport is towered or not. After all, the potential need for that “extra” runway in case of a problem doesn’t have much to do whether there is someone in a control tower or not. So I won’t answer the question from that perspective.

    There is, however, a potential safety issue with intersection takeoffs at non-towered airports that don’t (ordinarily) exist at a towered one. It’s the absence of (1) the controller’s extra set of eyes and (2) required communication.

    Even with an acceptably short takeoff roll for your aircraft, if you are at an intersection, you are somewhere other traffic does not ordinarily expect you. Much of our rules and AIM SOPS for operations at non-towered airports are there in an attempt to decrease the likelihood of runway incursions and mid-airs in the pattern. Even with those rules, we’ve seen an increase in the past few years in the FAA’s concern and emphasis on incursions (even where there is a Tower and required communication)..

    Being in a position on the runway where another aircraft may not expect you to be seems to me to be an unnecessary added risk. It’s arguably small but the current emphasis on incursion prevention suggests it might not be.

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  5. Sam Dawson on Feb 19, 2013

    I do concur with Mark’s concerns about intersection takeoffs at non-towered airports. I obviously went out and said I do not have a problem with them, but having written that I would add some cautions.
    Ensure you are not conflicting with other traffic. At some airports you may not want to do an intersection takeoff if an aircraft on either end can not see you or you can not see them. (ThoughI also had an issue once with not being able to see a NORAD airplane on the other end of a long, humped runway at a non-towered airport. In that case an intersection takeoff might have prevented a near miss.) I normally announce as well the intersection I am departing from for those aircraft on frequency.
    Know your performance. I teach pilots to only take off from runways if they have 1.5 times the book distance. So if the book says you need 1000′ of runway I want 1500′.
    There are times and aircraft where I insist on the full length. For example, in MEL I normally insist on the full length…though I have under 121 used an intersection takeoff- and we were not permitted to do so unless the takeoff data listed the specific taxiway and runway. However this was in part 25 aircraft where I was assured accelerate/go distance.
    On the flip side, how many pilots who are against intersection takeoffs don’t have an issue with touch and goes? Essentially a touch and go will be an intersection takeoff. You are not using the full length. Now there are some aircraft where I DON’T do touch and goes.

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  6. Matthew Waugh on Feb 24, 2013

    Intersection takeoffs at uncontrolled airports – to each their own.

    I just want to pipe in and remind everybody that intersection takeoffs at controlled airports are rife with their own set of problems. If we all line up and takeoff one by one from the end of the runway there is still a complex inter-play of runway operations that the controller is trying to keep in their head.

    Add additional locations on the airport where planes are taking off and it just gets more complex – not to mention the occasional knucklehead who takesoff from an intersection the “wrong way”.

    So even at a controlled airport, intersection takeoff, head on a swivel, know the flick and be careful.

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