- WestJet Encore pilots aborted take-off due to a cellphone ringtone, showing caution is important to new commercial pilots.
- Cockpit alerts in the Dash 8-Q400 are audible and blinking lights, making it easy to mistake a cellphone ringtone for an alert.
- Rejected take-offs are rare, with an average of 2,000-3,000 aircraft movements needed before experiencing one.
Overly cautious WestJet Encore pilots decided to abort the take-off of C-GENK, a de Havilland of Canada Dash 8-400, from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada to Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada on January 14. The decision to abort the take-off came not from the modern Dash 8-400 cockpit but from a cellphone.
Aborting a take-off for a cellphone ringtone?
First, it’s worth remembering that WestJet Encore pilots are new to commercial flying with limited hours and experience in a commercial aircraft, so more caution is a good practice. Second, according to the FlightGlobal report, the Transportation Safety Board of Canada found,
Upon further inspection by the flight crew, the unknown alarm came from a cellular telephone.
Since the Dash 8-Q400 cockpit pictured below lacks Engine Indicating and Crew Alerting System (EICAS), alerts are mostly audible and blinking lights. So yes, when cellphones can make ringtones similar to cockpit alerts, and that cell phone is going off on takeoff, it’s ordinarily prudent to stop the take-off and address the potential alert.
Photo: De Havilland of Canada
After securing the rogue cellphone, the Dash 8-400 made a second, successful take-off run on WestJet Encore Flight 3125 from Edmonton to get to Kelowna.
Would airplane mode have helped?
Airplane mode may have been created to stop cell phones from interfering with an aircraft’s electronic communication devices and radio altimeters. But airplane mode also stops both inbound and outbound attempts to call. One can read our guide to airplane mode below:
A guide to airplane mode on cell phones.
Additionally, safety is at a premium at take-off and landing inside the cockpit and cabin – so all phones should be in airplane mode. The failure to have all cellphones in the cockpit in airplane mode led to the rejected take-off.
What is a rejected take-off? Is that something to fear?
No, there’s nothing to fear, and here’s why. A rejected take-off is when, for a safety reason – like a runway incursion or, in this case, a perceived cockpit alert, a pilot reduces speed before it’s too late and goes around for another take-off.
A Simple Flying guide to rejected take-offs.
Rejected take-offs are rare, considering, according to the guide above, one would need to experience, on average, 2,000-3,000 aircraft movements (take-offs and landings) before undergoing a rejected take-off.
Photo: Joe Kunzler | Simple Flying
According to Statistics Canada, in November 2023 – the last month statistics are available – there were 301,317 itinerant civil aircraft movements – or take-offs and landings between airports – throughout Canada. Hence, on average, 151 rejected take-offs would be expected that month, and therefore, the odds of experiencing a rejected take-off are rare, like 0.05% of Canadian flights in a month.
Another WestJet Encore incident of late
A review of AeroInside shows that the caution of the WestJet Encore pilots on Flight 3125 on January 14 was wise. For instance, on January 28, a WestJet Encore Dash 8-400 in C-FWEW had an engine failure shortly after take-off from Edmonton but made a safe landing.
As AeroInside explains:
“The Canadian TSB reported the aircraft was climbing through 10,000 feet when the crew heard a bang, observed a right DC generator light and abnormal torque indications for the right hand engine (PW150A). The crew worked the related checklists, shut the engine down, and landed safely back to Edmonton. Company maintenance determined that the right-hand engine’s 2nd stage low-pressure compressor had failed.”
Ultimately, WestJet Encore pilots are trained to handle these rare incidents professionally and calmly. So, if you experience a rejected take-off, understand it’s for safety’s sake.
Have you experienced a rejected take-off? Please share in the comments.
- IATA/ICAO Code:
- Airline Type:
- Full Service Carrier
- Calgary International Airport, Toronto Pearson International Airport, Vancouver International Airport
- Year Founded:
- Alexis von Hoensbroech