On March 8th, the jet taking the Michigan Wolverine basketball team to Washington D.C., for the NCAA basketball tournament, had a problem on takeoff that caused the pilots to abort the takeoff. The plane went off the runway at Willow Run Airport and sustained some damage, but there was only one minor injury among the 100+ passengers and crew. What happened to cause the pilots to abort the takeoff? The following is from the preliminary accident report from the NTSB:

"Examination of the flight data recorder data indicates that during the taxi and take-off roll, the left elevator moved normally, but the right elevator did not move. During takeoff roll, the left elevator began a large airplane nose-up movement (consistent with rotation) [takeoff] at an airspeed of about 152 knots and continued for five seconds to about 166 knots. There was no change in the airplane pitch attitude during this time. [wasn't taking off] The airplane data then are consistent with the takeoff being rejected. The maximum recorded airspeed was about 173 knots." (BTW - 173 knots = 199 MPH)

Which means the airplane was at flying speed, but had a malfunction of one of the elevators (see the photo to the left), meaning it was probably NOT going to take off. Which (IMO) was going to become a serious problem. So the pilots did the right thing and aborted the takeoff. (Whoever you guys are - nice job)


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