Todd Walker

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UM pilot aborted takeoff broke rules, saved lives

UM pilot’s aborted takeoff broke rules, but saved lives

Neal Rubin, Detroit Free Press

The pilot who rode the University of Michigan’s basketball charter off the end of a Willow Run Airport runway last year broke protocol, confounded the higher ranking pilot next to him — and might well have saved 116 lives.

No one was seriously hurt on March 8, 2017, when an Ameristar Air Cargo MD-83 skidded 1,000 feet past the end of runway 23L on a day so windy that the control tower lost power and was evacuated.

But according to the transcript of the cockpit voice recorder, part of the investigative report released last week by the National Transportation Safety Board, the pilot’s terse “Abort” at 187 mph was met with a historically sensible, procedurally correct and potentially fatal response.

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