The Hurry-Up Syndrome Revisited

Past ASRS research has documented that the “hurry-up syndrome” ? any situation in which pilot performance is degraded by a perceived or actual need to rush the completion of cockpit tasks ? often results in downstream safety incidents. In practical terms, this means that omissions or oversights made during pre-flight and taxi-out often manifest themselves during takeoff and departure.

A cargo pilot?s report to ASRS shows how the hurry-up syndrome and complacency can lead even an experienced pilot to make a novice?s error ? in this case a wrong-direction departure:

The departure ATIS was calling for departure on Runway 8L. I was cleared to taxi and hold short of 8L at intersection D for intersection departure behind company jet traffic. Tower cleared me for takeoff and I proceeded to turn onto the runway and started takeoff roll. At approximately 500 feet AGL, Tower informed me I had departed Runway 26R and to turn right to 360? and then on course. No traffic conflicts occurred, and there was no shortage of runway as taxiway D is at the midpoint of a 10,000-foot runway.

From the beginning of the taxi for takeoff, I was rushing for departure and preoccupied with my departure preparations. I was late and the weather was moderately low, all factors that increased my anxiety and haste to depart. I am very familiar with the airport and I believe this allowed complacency to set in. The departure from midfield made it difficult for the ATC controller to anticipate my mistake… [Also] the company jet did not take off in front of me, but crossed Runway 8L/28R on the way to the south set of runways. No other aircraft were taking off or landing, which would have warned me of my mistake.

1. Allowing oneself to be rushed increases chances for mistakes to happen and go unnoticed

2. Be suspicious and think through intersection departures. Check heading indicator on line-up to verify departure runway. Slow down to allow the controller to stay in the loop and help avoid mistakes.