I’d assume when pilots enter a weight estimate for the plane prior to takeoff that there would be a decision aid to prevents gross miscalculation. It certainly seems like an undue load (no pun intended) on the pilot to require entering multiple components for weight correctly. From the article linked below I am no longer sure how much automation is involved. Apparently, the pilot forgot to account for the weight of the fuel. Doesn’t it seem as though that would be the easiest weight to automatically enter?
From the article:
“The weight of the plane dictates the speed required to take off and too little speed could have caused pilots to lose control of the aircraft. Luckily, the captain realized something was wrong and compensated before the plane ran off the runway.
According to the report there have been “a significant number of reported incidents and several accidents resulting from errors in take-off performance calculations around the world in recent years.”
On a side note, I’ve been on small planes where we all had to be weighed as well as our luggage prior to boarding. If the margins are that thin, I sure hope no one made any data entry mistakes!
Photo credit martinhartland @ Flickr