What is RTO in Aviation? (Rejected Takeoff)

Rejected takeoff, abbreviated as RTO, is a term used in aviation to describe the procedure in which a pilot aborts the takeoff of an aircraft before it becomes airborne. This decision is made due to various factors that pose a threat to the safety of the flight. Rejected takeoffs are crucial moments that require quick thinking, precise actions, and a deep understanding of the aircraft’s performance capabilities. In this article, we will delve into the details of rejected takeoffs, exploring the reasons behind them, the procedures involved, and the importance of this maneuver in ensuring safe aviation operations.

The Decision to Perform a Rejected Takeoff

A pilot may decide to perform a rejected takeoff for several reasons. One of the primary factors is when the aircraft experiences a critical system failure during the takeoff roll. This could be a malfunctioning engine, loss of braking ability, or any other issue that could compromise the safety of the flight. In such cases, the pilot must act swiftly to prevent the aircraft from becoming airborne and to avoid potential disaster in the air.

Additionally, rejected takeoffs may be performed if the pilot detects an abnormal indication on the flight instruments or experiences a loss of control during the takeoff roll. These indications could signify a serious issue with the aircraft’s performance or a failure in its systems. By stopping the takeoff, the pilot can mitigate any risks associated with these anomalies and allow for a thorough investigation and resolution of the problem before attempting another takeoff.

In some cases, external factors such as wildlife on the runway, a runway incursion, or a sudden change in weather conditions may also prompt a rejected takeoff. The pilot’s primary responsibility is the safety of the aircraft and its occupants, and if any potential hazards are identified during the takeoff roll, it is imperative to abort the takeoff and reassess the situation.

The Rejected Takeoff Procedure

Performing a rejected takeoff requires precise actions to ensure the safety of the aircraft and its occupants. The following steps outline the general procedure for a rejected takeoff:

1. Pilot Recognition: The pilot must first recognize the need for a rejected takeoff. This could be due to any of the aforementioned factors, such as system failure, abnormal indications, loss of control, or external hazards.

2. Power Reduction and Braking: Once the need for a rejected takeoff is identified, the pilot initiates a reduction in engine power and applies maximum braking force to bring the aircraft to a halt as quickly as possible.

3. Reverse Thrust (If Available): If the aircraft is equipped with reverse thrust capabilities, the pilot will deploy the reversers to further assist in deceleration. Reverse thrust redirects the engine’s exhaust airflow forward, effectively generating a braking force.

4. Emergency Evacuation (If Necessary): In certain circumstances, such as if there is a fire or structural damage, the pilot may need to initiate an emergency evacuation of the aircraft after a rejected takeoff. This procedure ensures the swift and safe evacuation of all occupants.

5. Investigation and Resolution: Once the rejected takeoff has been executed, the pilot, along with maintenance personnel, should thoroughly investigate the cause of the aborted takeoff and address any underlying issues before attempting another takeoff.

The Importance of Rejected Takeoff

Rejected takeoffs play a vital role in maintaining the safety of aviation operations. By promptly aborting a takeoff when necessary, pilots can prevent potentially catastrophic incidents from occurring during flight. The decision to perform a rejected takeoff demonstrates the pilot’s commitment to ensuring the well-being of everyone on board and highlights the importance of prioritizing safety above all else.

Furthermore, rejected takeoffs help identify and address any issues or anomalies with the aircraft that may have gone undetected during pre-flight checks. By conducting a thorough investigation following a rejected takeoff, maintenance personnel can analyze the root cause of the problem, rectify it, and certify the aircraft fit to fly. This process contributes to the overall reliability and performance of the aviation industry.

It is worth noting that rejected takeoffs are relatively rare events in commercial aviation due to the rigorous maintenance and inspection protocols in place, ensuring the aircraft’s continued airworthiness. However, pilots undergo extensive training to handle such situations in the event they occur, enabling them to make split-second decisions and take the necessary actions to mitigate risks effectively.


Rejected takeoff, also known as RTO, is a critical procedure in aviation where a pilot aborts the takeoff of an aircraft before it becomes airborne. The decision to perform a rejected takeoff is made when various factors, such as system failures, abnormal indications, loss of control, or external hazards, pose a threat to the safety of the flight. Pilots follow a precise procedure, including power reduction, maximum braking, and potentially emergency evacuation if necessary. These rejected takeoffs play a crucial role in maintaining the safety and reliability of aviation operations. By promptly identifying and addressing potential hazards, pilots ensure the well-being of everyone on board and contribute to the overall robustness of the aviation industry.

For More: What is CHP in Aviation? (Course Heading Panel)