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Emergency Turn
Article Information

Category: Emergency & Contingency


Content source: SKYbrary


Content control: Air Pilots


1 Description
2 Regulatory Requirement
3 Takeoff Performance
4 Standard Instrument Departures (SID)
5 Emergency Turn Development
6 Flight Crew Actions
7 Suggested Controller’s Actions
8 Related Articles
9 Further Reading
Emergency Turn refers to the path over the ground that is followed by an aircraft that
has experienced an engine failure during takeoff. An Emergency Turn is interchangeably
referred to as an Escape Routing or as an Engine Out SID.

Regulatory Requirement
Takeoff and initial climb performance requirements following an engine failure are
specified in National Regulations. These regulations require that the aircraft be capable
of meeting a specified minimum climb gradient, the value of which is dependent upon
the number of engines installed and the regulatory criteria under which the aircraft has
been certified, until reaching 1500' AGL or the minimum enroute altitude.

Takeoff Performance
Takeoff performance can be limited by any of the following:

runway characteristics including Take Off Distance Available (TODA)

(/index.php/Take_Off_Distance_Available_(TODA)), Accelerate Stop Distance
Available (ASDA) (/index.php/Accelerate_Stop_Distance_Available_(ASDA)),
elevation, slope and the presence of contamination
atmospheric conditions including temperature, wind and pressure
aircraft limitations including maximum takeoff weight, maximum tire rotation
speed, maximum allowable time at takeoff thrust and any performance
decrements due to Minimum Equipment List (MEL)
(/index.php/Minimum_Equipment_List_(MEL)) or Configuration Deviation List
(/index.php/Configuration_Deviation_List) criteria
certification criteria for engine out climb performance

Under the regulations, the Maximum Takeoff Weight (MTOW) can be limited by
certification criteria that require a gross engine out climb gradient of 2.4%, 2.7% or
3.0% for two, three and four engine aircraft respectively. To ensure obstacle clearance
while allowing for aircraft performance degradation and less than optimum pilot
technique, the gross gradients are reduced by 0.8%, 0.9% and 1.0% respectively to
calculate a net gradient. This net gradient is then published in the AFM
(/index.php/AFM) performance data and, in actual operations, must ensure that the
limiting obstacle in the departure path is cleared by a minimum of 35'. If there is an
obstacle within the departure path that cannot be avoided and would not be cleared
by 35', the planned takeoff weight must be reduced until minimum obstacle clearance
can be achieved. Note that turns during the intial climb are limited to 15° of bank and
that turning will result in a reduction in aircraft climb capability.

Standard Instrument Departures (SID)

Standard Instrument Departure (SID) (/index.php/SIDs_and_STARs) routings are
designed to allow efficient traffic flow, avoidance of noise sensitive areas and
deconfliction from both arrival traffic and the traffic from other aerodromes. They also
ensure obstacle clearance provided that the standard minimum climb gradient of
200'/nm (3.3%) or, when published, a specified higher climb gradient is met. The
standard 3.3% SID gradient exceeds the certification requirements for engine out climb
capability in virtually all transport category aircraft. Consequently, in the engine failure
case, following the SID routing does not necessarily ensure obstacle clearance.

Emergency Turn Development

AFM charts allow calculation of the MTOW that meets the minimum regulatory climb
gradient. These charts take into consideration the runway characteristics of slope and
contamination and the prevailing atmospheric conditions of wind, temperature and
pressure altitude. However, unless the departure path is also assessed for obstacles,
obstacle clearance and safety of flight is not assured. Obstacles may be natural, such
as hills or trees, or man-made, such as buildings, towers, light standards and power
lines. If an obstacle penetrates the obstacle identification surface of the required
regulatory gradient, the departure aircraft must either turn to avoid it or the gradient
must be increased to provide the minimum required obstacle clearance. In either case,
a reduction of MTOW will be necessary. Note that it is possible that Emergency Turn
and SID routings will partially or completely overlap.

It is a commercial imperative to maximize payload capability without compromising

safety. Emergency Turns are intended to achieve that goal. Whenever possible, escape
routings will avoid turning as turns result in a loss of climb capability and necessitate a
reduction in weight. If turns are required, turns below 1000' AGL will be avoided unless
there is no other alternative. If a low turn is required, the minimum height above
ground for turn initiation is the greater of 50' or one half of the wing span of the
aircraft. The maximum allowable bank angle below 400' AGL is 15 degrees. Procedures
must also be designed to ensure that the 3rd climb segment (level acceleration / flap
retraction) can be safely completed and thrust/power reduced to maximum continuous
prior to the regulated time limit for takeoff thrust.

Some airlines have performance engineers on staff to conduct runway analysis and
produce Emergency Turn data for their company. Other Companies utilize third-party
providers to generate the required information. In both cases, for any specific runway,
crews will be provided with an escape routing, a minimum acceleration altitude and
the means to calculate the MTOW. Calculations will take the existing atmospheric
conditions and any runway contamination into consideration. The calculation medium
might be paper charts or an Electronic Flight Bag(EFB)
(/index.php/Electronic_Flight_Bag) for crew use or a TLR (Takeoff / Landing Report)
generated by the dispatcher.

Flight Crew Actions

In the event of an engine failure after takeoff, crews must be prepared to immediately
deviate from any cleared routing that is inconsistent with the Emergency Turn routing
while concurrently carrying out the specified engine failure after takeoff (EFATO)
Engine_Transport_Category_Jet_Aircraft) drills. Both elements are critical to a
successful outcome as the engine out drills ensure aircraft control and optimum climb
performance while adherence to the Emergency Turn routing provides for obstacle
clearance. Failure to comply with either element could result in disaster.

In the event of a deviation from the cleared routing, flight crew should advise ATC of
the deviation as soon as practicable incorporating the term “STANDBY” at the end of
the message to limit the distraction of subsequent ATC calls until the flight deck
situation is under control.

Suggested Controller’s Actions

Best practice embedded in the ASSIST principle could be followed (A - Acknowledge, S
- Separate, S - Silence, I - Inform, S - Support, T - Time) :

A - acknowledge the emergency and ask for the crew's intentions when their
situation permits. Respect the “STANDBY” transmission and wait for the flight
crew to indicate when they are able to provide further information
S - separate conflicting traffic from the emergency aircraft. This is particularly
critical when an emergency turn requires the aircraft to deviate from its cleared
routing. Prioritise it for landing and, when appropriate, keep the active runway
clear of departures, arrivals and vehicles
S - silence the non-urgent calls (as required) and use separate frequency where
I - inform the airport emergency services and all concerned parties according to
local procedures
S - support the flight experiencing the engine failure with any information
requested or deemed necessary (e.g. type of approach, runway length and
aerodrome details, etc.)
T - provide time for the crew to assess the situation, don’t press with non-urgent

The controller should be prepared to:

Acknowledge emergency on RTF

Take all necessary action to safeguard all aircraft concerned
Suggest a heading, if so required or requested
Provide separation or issue essential traffic information, as appropriate
Emergency broadcast if necessary
When the flight crew indicate they can accommodate further R/T communication,
ask for pilot’s intentions and other important information, such as:

Aircraft damage
Fuel remaining
Total passengers and crew

Related Articles
Uncontained Engine Failure (/index.php/Uncontained_Engine_Failure)
Engine Failure During Takeoff - Multi-Engine Transport Category Jet Aircraft
Net Take-off Flight Path (/index.php/Net_Take-off_Flight_Path)
Engine Failure: Guidance for Controllers
Rejected Take Off (/index.php/Rejected_Take_Off)
SIDs and STARs (/index.php/SIDs_and_STARs)

Further Reading

Guidelines for Controller Training in the Handling of Unusual/Emergency

Situations (

UK CAA - Safety Regulation Group

CAP 745 - Aircraft Emergencies - Considerations for air traffic controllers


Airbus Flight Operations Briefing Notes

Handling Engine Malfunctions (

Revisiting the “Stop or Go” Decision
Understanding Takeoff Speeds
Getting to Grips with Aircraft Performance
( pages 63 and 64.

US Federal Aviation Administration

Pilot Guide to Takeoff Safety (

Airport Obstacle Analysis (

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Categories (/index.php/Special:Categories):
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