A balanced approach: How weight and loading are critical for takeoff

Last week, it was reported that the incorrect loading of a Prague-bound A321 out of London Luton Airport caused “takeoff issues” for the pilots. A last-minute change was made to the aircraft operating the service, from an A320 to a longer-bodied A321. However, the passenger seating was not changed, meaning that there were more people towards the front of the aircraft than the rear.

Reaching Vr, the speed at which the pilot pulls back on the controls to rotate the aircraft into the air, the first officer pulled back on the control stick but nothing happened. He pulled harder, almost to full deflection on the control stick. Still, nothing happened.

At this point, the captain pushed the thrust levers all the way forwards giving full takeoff power. With the extra thrust, the aircraft was able to climb safely away from the runway.

So why did this incident occur and why are the weight and balance of the aircraft so important?

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