Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300: Risks of Rejecting Take-Off at High Speed

On June 24th, 2023, a Cathay Pacific Boeing 777-300 was on take-off roll from Hong Kong, China, when the crew rejected take-off at high speed. The plane heading to Los Angeles had 293 passengers and 17 crew members on board. According to the airline, the plane’s crew rejected take off after realizing a signal anomaly. After slowing down, an emergency evacuation was initiated.

Eleven passengers were reported to have sustained injuries. Two of the 11 passengers sustained severe injuries and had to be hospitalized. “Nine of the eleven passengers who received treatment during the incident have been discharged and we will continue to give our support to the two who are still hospitalized,” said a Cathay Pacific representative. 

Like any other plane accident, rejecting take-off at high speed can have severe health repercussions and legal complexities for the victims. Hiring one of our qualified aviation lawyers after such an incident is your best chance of handling it effectively.

How Often Are Rejected Take-Offs?

A rejected take-off is not a new phenomenon to pilots. It is bound to happen due to various technical hitches that may arise. According to Boeing, about 75% of all rejected take-offs are initiated at low speeds. Approximately 2% of these incidents are initiated at high speeds, resulting in passenger injuries or plane damage.

Personal Injuries after Rejecting Take-Off at High-Speed

Due to the numerous cases of plane incidents we have dealt with, we can point out some of the most common injuries from aborting take-off at high speed.

  • Head and brain injuries

The motion resulting from the sudden application of brakes at a plane’s high speed can cause luggage placed in the overhead storage bins to fall off passengers. The force these objects apply to a passenger’s head can injure the brain. The injury’s severity depends on the magnitude of force involved. Besides concussions, a hit on the head can cause contusions, skull fractures, or a brain bleed. Common symptoms associated with brain injuries include chronic headaches, seizures, dizziness, or mental confusion.

  • Back and spinal injuries

Take-off abortion at high speed can cause a strain on the back due to a passenger’s sudden motion. Applying sudden force on one’s back can result in spinal injuries. While some spinal injuries may improve with time, some may lead to permanent damage, such as paralysis. Other symptoms associated with spinal injuries may include muscle weakness, reduced sensation, or limited muscular coordination.

  • Psychological and emotional distress

Most plane incident victims disregard the emotional trauma caused by such scenarios. They tend to put more attention and resources towards their physical pain. Psychological trauma is worse than physical pain. Even after fully recovering from physical injuries, psychological distress can linger on longer. Like physical injuries, psychological trauma can substantially affect a victim’s life course by hindering them from engaging in activities they did before the incident. Psychological distress can also interfere with their sleep. Therefore, after such incidents, victims should seek psychological help. 

Risks of Rejecting Take-Off at High Speed

Rejecting take-off might seem like not so big of a deal, especially in certain situations. The truth is its consequences can be severe and long-term, mainly if applied at high speed.

  1.  Braking system overload.

Brakes play a central role when rejecting take-off. However, the sudden slamming on the brakes can cause excessive strain on them. Brake pads can overheat, accelerating their wear and tear, resulting in reduced braking efficiency or brake failure. The sudden force applied when rejecting take-off can also cause cracks in brake hoses, resulting in brake fluid leaks. If not corrected soon, the entire braking system could fail, leading to a crash.

  • Tire blowouts.

The sudden and forceful slamming on the brakes when rejecting take-off increases friction between the tires and the runway, producing heat. Heat build-up increases the chances of tire blowouts. Burst tires are dangerous, especially when a plane is still in motion. They can result in a plane’s loss of control, leading to a catastrophic accident. 

  • Engine damage

Bringing an aircraft to a sudden halt at high speed can stress its engine by inducing excessive pressure on its components. A strained engine can lead to the development of mechanical failures, such as turbine damage. A slight mechanical failure in a plane affects the entire system. Therefore, if such errors are not detected and corrected immediately after the incident, the plane’s second take-off attempt can result in a fatal crash. 

  • Limited runway space

Adequate runway space during take-off rejection should be a critical concern. Before rejecting take-off, crew members must ensure there is sufficient distance to accommodate the plane until it comes to a standstill. Suppose there a runway’s length is inadequate. The sudden abortion of the plane’s take-off may not be accommodated. This may cause the aircraft to overshoot the runway, colliding with stationary objects. 

  • Passenger panic and injuries

Imagine being in a plane, moving at high speed during take-off roll; then, suddenly, it is brought to a halt. This may cause objects to fly freely in the cabin, along with the back-and-forth motion of passengers while in their seats. Such a scenario would cause panic among the travelers. This incident could also be unfortunate for some passengers, especially those not buckled up during the incident, as they may sustain injuries. Due to the chaos and confusion resulting from such an incident, additional risks could develop as each victim fights their way out of the plane. 


While the primary goal of a take-off abortion is to avert a potential catastrophe, crew members should not take such a decision lightly as it also carries significant risks. Therefore, before making such a decision, all involved parties should carefully assess the situation, weighing all the risks. Are you a victim of a take-off reject? You do not have to deal with the legal complexities following a takeoff rejection alone. Contact our firm today for a qualified Houston car accident lawyer for legal guidance and representation.


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